Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dejeuner en Pleine Air or Backyard Lunch

The groom's parents held Sunday lunch the day after the wedding in their back yard.  Some 100 guests mixed, sipped and ate.  I believe we were introduced to everyone present and because we were at a private party at a private house, every single one of them greeted us with the double kiss!  Not even in my long career as a woman of no particular repute have I been kissed by so many, including four and five year old kids!

Richie, being from New York, is quite used to giving female friends a quick peck on the lips, so coming in for the side of his cheek rather confused him in the beginning.

The weather co-operated beautifully, too.  Having survived the kiss-a-thon, we got beers and browsed.  One end of the drinks table held salty snacks -- black or green tapanede (both made by our hostess.) crackers, baguette slices and olives.

Much was made of the presence of a whole Iberian ham.  These hams are cured for 24 to 36 months and were once wild boars, fed largely on a diet of acorns.  Their Spanish name is "pata negra" because they have black nails, the distinguishing characteristic of Iberian hams.  Beware though -- unscrupulous ham dealers have been known to paint the toenails black!  And at between $639 -$650 per ham -- Sue the bastard!  France is much closer to Spain than we here are, so maybe they're not quite as roaringly expensive there as here.  The American price runs about $96/lb. 

The texture is not as coarse as beef jerky, but not as flimsy as prosciutto.  I liked it (but not at those prices.)

The Next Showstopper was the arrival of four men carrying an enormous paella platter.  Naturally the lead guy was a clown who faked stumbles and dropping it.   This was not a popular move - French people take their food Very Seriously Indeed. 

Salad followed the paella and then came the cheese course.  Dessert consisted of your choise of four, different ice creams (presented in the cartons so that you could see which was which) - vanilla, citron, strawberry and pistachio.  The groom's mother had also made a huge mousse au chocolat that was out of this world!  She adds crushed, sugared almonds to the mix which gives it crunch against the silky texture of the mousse. (I had two slices...)

Next trays of fruit were passed around and the French fastidiously peeled their peaches or carefully cut slices of melon as we all lounged around the tables; their tableclothes speckled with crumbs and wadded-up napkins.  Over all lay a mood of deep contentment, punctuated by the occasional belch. 

The paella

Paella cooker


World's Best Mousse au Chocolat!
Iberian ham
This repose lasted only for a short time.  The sportier members of the group went out to the front yard to play sand volleyball.  (Our hosts have a court.)  It was all I could do to stagger to a seat in the shade and watch.  Very unAmerican, I know.  But you weren't there and you didn't eat like I did!

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