Yesterday we had a family gathering at Yannick's parents in Barby, about an hour or so from Lyon. Everybody arrived around 1pm. The weather was very agreeable, warm with soft breezes, the sun was shining, and it was a pleasure to be in their beautiful garden and to see everybody again.
I have come to appreciate and love the French custom around the dining table, sharing a meal over leisurely hours through several courses, savoring and extending the simple earthly pleasure of eating to the maximum. The courses typically include apéritif (pre-meal drink), entrée (first course), plat principal (main), fromage (cheese), dessert, café, and sometimes digestive (after meal drink). Each course progresses slowly with a graceful pause between each course.
A traditional family Sunday afternoon get together starts in the early afternoon and goes on for several hours over a long multi-course meal well into the early evening.
We started with the apéritif at 1:35pm. And being with family is special and reason enough to celebrate with a bottle of champagne or two (two in this case). The pre-meal drink is usually accompanied by nibblies such as nuts, crackers, chips, dips, canapés, a charcuterie plate, olives, tapenade, etc. etc.
Chink chink ! Santé ! To your health! Here's Yannick, his father André and his mother Madeleine. If you don't know and wonder why they don't have Asian faces like Yannick, it's because Yannick was adopted. He arrived in France to be a new member of the Bertrand family on November 5th, 1973 when he was around 5 years old.
These are Yannick's niece Émilie and Yannick's sister Marie-Laure. Aren't they beautiful?!
A little over an hour later, around 2:40pm, came the first course. Jambon cru et melon which is raw ham and cantaloupe in English.
André was in charge of the barbeque. Seems universally to be the man of the house's task, doesn't it?
Grillade (colelette du porc), merguez (sausage made with lamb and beef) and godiveau (hot paté made of ground meat).
I meant to note the time of each course specifically to share in this post. But I lost track, which on such a beautiful carefree afternoon, one really really should anyway. And after a few glasses of this and that...
Barbeque meats, green leaves and tomatoes fresh from the garden, tabouleh which was forgotten in the fridge, boiled eggs, ewe-milk feta, pan roasted tomatoes with herbs, and risotto cakes.
And of course delicious bread. There's always bread in every French meal no matter what other starches (potatoes, pasta, rice) you might be having. There's always bread on the table. Literally. No bread plate. And no butter on the bread please.
Grilled Atlantic salmon for me. I think it was around 3:15pm when we started the main course.
Yannick and his brother Julien resting after the main course. But really I think it's Yannick fleeing the cheese course. Not a real French man after all, is he?
I think it must have been around 4:30pm when we started on the dessert. After the barbeque on a hot afternoon, ice cream was not only appropriate, but important. Do you see American food invading the French food culture here? We had Ben & Jerry's cookie dough, Haägen-Dazs caramel biscuit & cream-speculoos, Haägen-Dazs macadamia nut brittle, and Haägen-Dazs caramel brownie (I overdosed...) And do you know that Haägen-Dazs is American, created by Polish immigrants in New York in 1961, and is now owned by General Mill?
The ice creams were accompanied by Scottish shortbread and Canadian chocolate chip cookies, home made by none other than yours truly.
Let the battle begin! Water battle, that is.
Julien's wife Elodie (Yannick's and my sister-in-law).
For some people, the battle is best enjoyed from a distance.
A losing battle for Yannick...
Have a wonderful week everybody!