Welcome to our BBQ! Have a cup of juice, or the wine’s over there. Would you like some raisins while we wait on our assortment of sausages and turkey breasts to cook on our tiny electric grills? Various salads are inside, and don’t worry, the cheese course will come a bit later.
Sound like your idea of a summer cookout? Nor to us.
When we were invited to a French BBQ, we weren’t too sure what to expect. We were told to bring a dessert and our own meat. I didn’t want to over-do it on the meat with New York Strip Steaks or Filet Mignons (did you know “mignon” is French for “cute”? it’s kind of weird when people keep calling my son a steak), so I thought we could just blend in with some simple hot dogs! I bought the hot dogs, and then scoured our town to come up with some buns and eventually did so. That was my first mistake. As soon as we pulled our pork links off the grill and slapped ‘em between some bread, everyone stared. “Oh, they’re Americans,” we could see in their gazes. Turns out no one at a French BBQ would ever think of eating a hot dog on a bun in their hands. No no. Just sausages on a plate, in the middle of a bunch of salads, and with forks bien sûr!
Then after the meats and salads came the cheese course. A tray of four different stinky cheeses was introduced amidst the group. They were not equally stinky... one in particular had the smell of death combined with sewage from last January about it. It was bad. Not knowing which white/orange hunk was putting off that putrid odor, I asked my loving wife to grab me a small piece of the hardest cheese offered (I have yet to acquire a taste for the soft stuff). She did so and brought it by. Turns out the hardest one on the tray was also the source of the skunk-like perfume. I decided to be a trooper and broke off a small bite of it, then wrapped it inside a large piece of bread. When I bit into it, the wretchedness of the smell I had encountered became an equally awful taste, and I fancied myself a five-year-old taking cough syrup, held my breath and swallowed hard. Then I sat the rest of the cheese chunk aside on a coffee table. Barely a minute later, a two-year-old French girl walked by, picked up the remainder of my stinky cheese, popped it in her mouth, and walked off chewing and smiling.
Then came a funny moment in the evening when some French friends asked me to speak some Swahili for them. I did so, and they turned to JJ to ask what I’d just said. She proceeded to translate my monologue into English. They watched and listened quietly, and when finished told her they had no idea what she just said. She hadn’t even realized she was speaking English instead of French!
The eve ended on a positive note for the Americans, as our dessert became the talk of the night. A derby pie was a new creation to the frenchie folk, and they didn’t have any idea what to call it or how to describe it when it came dessert presentation time. But eat it they did, and loved it! So much that quite a few of the ladies insisted to JJ that she provide them with a recipe. She now has a bit of work ahead of her, as she must do a double translation... English instructions to French, and American measurements (cup/ounce/fahrenheit) to European/French. Bon courage!