had a our first French family over for a meal. It was the same family we have been trying to have over for about a month or so. We were all too busy or sick to do it until today.
We decided to have a brunch (which, in French is called "brunch") since they have "littler" (which is not French and in English would be "smaller") kids than we do and they could get them back home for a nap, while still getting to enjoy a leisurely meal. I don't consider myself a great hostess. I have to really work to remember to put out things like napkins, forks, ....food. Actually, I usually remember the food but am hyper-critical of it, although I've learned to keep the comments to myself. I've also learned to try to make it as simple as possible (without succumbing to canned soup...yet).
The menu: I settled on egg strata and kept it simple by only putting cheese in it, no meat or vegetables. I added a side dish of oven-hash browned potatoes because I make them often and can usually count on them. I added onions and bits of bacon to make it more interesting. Then I thought I'd do a fruit salad. Then I thought about doing a spinach salad. Then I thought about adding some kind of bread. Maybe getting croissants at the bakery. In the end I decided we needed something more like a dessert and made a fruit tart. Then our guests volunteered to bring a salad, so I didn't need the spinach salad.
Like I said, I tend toward being hyper-critical of any food I make for guests. I'm never like that in other people's homes, just my own (in case you're now worried about inviting us over). So, the potatoes could have been less mushy, but there was too much moisture in the oven because it's too small for all I had in there. The tart was okay. I used creme fraiche instead of sour cream to make the bottom layer and it was lacking something in the taste area (not necessarily because of the creme, it just needed something else in it). I was going to make lemon curd to brush on top of the fruit, but I ran out of time. The strata was tasty and the wife seemed the most interested in it, asking for the recipe and saying she'd never had anything like it. She brought a delicious carrot and corn salad. I sort of wished I'd made the spinach salad after all, for no other reason but to add a color outside of the yellow/orange/brown family. Oh, well. We all ate it and nobody died.
The most interesting part was the conversation. I got about half of it as Mr. French tried to speak in French most of the time and they, who speak English pretty well, spoke in English about half the time. They would correct Mr. French's French (I'm not sure they would've done this if we hadn't talked about it previously) and even argued amongst themselves what was correct. The topics ranged from the differences between our churches (or what we're used to in the US vs. theirs) to travel around France, Europe, and the US. They told us about interesting museums they'd been to in France. One in Caen, particularly caught my attention, as it was an historical museum about World War II. It starts with the events leading up to World War I and covers what was going on in the world at the time and on until the first Iraq War. It sounds fascinating. They were in the museum for five hours (I assume sans children). They said it was very expensive but worth it. They said it was, "fiftee euros."
Then some children interrupted us. I think it must be 50 Euros because 15 doesn't sound abnormal for a museum. (But Mr. French thinks they said 15. So I don't know.)
In the end we had a good time. With all the French floating around, by the time they left, I felt like I couldn't even speak English very well. The wife invited me to come over to their home sometime to "practice" my French while the kids are in school. It's a great idea, once I actually have some French to practice.