Tuesday 14 July 2015

Apero dinatoire

Last Thursday evening we went to an apéro dînatoire hosted by our friends Christine and Bernard. Apéro dînatoire is a sort of informal evening gathering where everyone sits around talking, drinking and eating small morcels of finger food for several hours.

The picnic table just before we all sat down.
(Left to right: Hubert, Bernard, Yolande, Christine.)
As you can see from the photos it morphed into what Christine called a pique nique, but that was OK. Everyone continued sitting around talking, drinking and eating. There were 20 or so people there and many contributed a plate of food or some chairs to help Christine out. I brought some dolmades, which I knew Christine really liked and many of those present had enjoyed at our party last year.

The melon came from a producer near Richelieu who set up his trailer selling melons in La Roche Posay. This year the melons are extremely good. The wasp was not invited.
The gathering was as a thank you for all those who had helped prepare the Poterne Museum in Preuilly for this summer season's opening. My contribution was to help pack up some prehistoric stone tools that need to go into storage, general dusting and vacuuming, and helping to clean a 19th century confirmation dress.

Sitting around eating, drinking and talking.
(Left to right: Claudine, Gilberte, Elisabeth, Jean-Claude, Dominique)
Topics of conversation throughout the evening included:
  • American intellectual films (that's when the man is more intelligent than the horse...)
  • the careers of some of those present -- nuclear physicists, art teacher.
  • the career of a grandfather -- pharmacist.
  • the wine cellar of a father (as in the contents of, which were considered magnificent and which we were benefitting from). 
  • horse studs.
  • famous people encountered in the street. This started because of an anecdote about Mick Jagger coming out of Bricorama, but included Lionel Jospin on a bicycle and a French judo champion, who is apparently enormous, and the fact that François Mitterand could be seen walking down the Champs Elysée without security (you wouldn't get that now...).
  • the merits or otherwise of Jacques Chirac, Jack Lang and one or two others I forget now.
  • when to say au Blanc and when to say du Blanc when referring to the town of Le Blanc. Interestingly, this discussion was not for the benefit of us Aussies but was triggered by someone saying he was very nearly born in Le Blanc.
  • The pronounciation of Montrichard. Likewise not for our benefit particularly.
  • Restaurants in the pays du Chinonais.
  • What was in the dolmades.
  • Mustard -- the moutarde aux herbes at one end of the table did not meet with universal approval and I was asked to pass the moutarde normale (bog standard supermarket Amora brand).
  • do you call a western whip snake a couleuvre or a cinglard?
  • dyeing with indigo and madder.


Le Pré de la Forge said...

"do you call a western whip snake a couleuvre or a cinglard?"....
so what do you call it, then?

Moutard normale... don't like Amora... too damned vinegary...
prefer Bouton d'Or... better mustard flavour and no vinegar dominance...
and herbal mustards... can work occasionally...but...
someone once gave us a Lavender Mustard from somewhere in North Yorkshire....
floor polish with your cold pork, sir?
It got BINNED!!


Ken Broadhurst said...

I've always seen apéritif (or apéro) dînatoire written as two words. You can also have a déjeuner dînatoire or a goûter dînatoire. The term dînatoire just means a big meal, equivalent to a dinner, but at unexpected times of the day — not at normal dinner hours and with less formal service styles.

Susan said...

Everyone claimed they called western whip snakes cinglards, but although I knew the term, I've never heard it used in conversation before.

I wouldn't know about the mustards, since for my tastebuds mustard goes with very little and I rarely use it.

Susan said...

I've corrected the post. I suppose I think of it as one word because that is how you say it.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Sound like you are having fun. When you're having fun is when you learn the language easily and quickly. Too bad about you and mustard. We like Amora, which is much hotter than Maille, and I like the cheapest grocery store brands because they are always hot and clean tasting, with the fewest ingredients. I bought some Coleman's (not dried but prepared) at SuperU but didn't really like it. The Amora or store-brand French mustards are hotter and have more flavor.

As far as the pronunciation of apéro dînatoire, well, French word boundaries are totally different from English word boundaries. English is spoken largely as separate words, but French is spoken as a series of what they call "breath groups" with no boundaries between individual words. Does that make sense? Thus «J'habite à Paris» is said as [zhah-bee-tah-pah-REE].

Ken Broadhurst said...

Another pronunciation example: «C'est un homme» is pronounced [seh-tuh-nuhm] more or less, with the last letters of words becoming the first sound of the next words in the spoken form.

Ken Broadhurst said...

As for the American movies: I think horses are generally more intelligent that people.

Susan said...

Crikey Ken! That's a bit worrying!! Horses are notoriously dimwitted creatures of habit and herd instinct. Mind you, I quite like horses ... :-)

Susan said...

Thanks for the pronunciation lesson. It makes perfect sense. It's the application of the technique that's the tricky part.

Leon Sims said...

Sorry to break up you and Ken's conversation BUT, I would have to say that our life has become richer for the tradition of the French Apero that you have both, and others in the region introduced to us. We have imported it into our Australian lifestyle at our abode. It might even replace the Beer Barbie.

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