Years ago, in the States, Patrick and I were going to have dinner at a friend’s place. Dinner was at 6:30 so I was ready to jump into the shower around 6 p.m. After all, who eats dinner at 6:30? Having spent a good part of my life in Europe where dinner didn’t start before 8 p.m. and a year in Spain where dinner normally begins around 11 p.m., I didn’t think anyone really planned on sitting down to dinner in the early evening, or let’s say, the late afternoon.
“What are you doing?” Patrick had a worried look on his face.
“I’m going to get ready for dinner. Did you forget that we’re invited tonight?”
“I know, but it’s almost 6 o’clock and it takes about 15 minutes to get there.” Patrick knew it took me at least an hour - okay, a couple of hours to get ready. “We’re suppose to be there at 6:30, you know, or did you forget?”
“Well you don’t really expect us to arrive at 6:30, do you?” I was looking at him like he was crazy.
“That would be rude…..” we both said at the same time.
Patrick ended his sentence with “….to be late.”
While I ended mine with “…..to be early.”
Sometimes I wonder if Patrick really is French. He spent far too many years in the States and his punctuality proves it. I had to remind him that here in France it is considered rude to arrive on time.
“You mean, we’re suppose to be late?”
“Uh, yeah, that’s the polite thing to do.”
It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t come on time because no one is ever ready for their guests when they told you to come. So when your host or hostess tells you to come to dinner at seven, he or she really means eight o’clock, and if they tell you to come at eight, they really mean after 8:30 or closer to nine.
We invited friends over for dinner this past weekend and we told them to come early around seven so we could have a few drinks and chat. I let the chef do his thing, turning our kitchen into a disaster area, but I knew better to stay out of there because he always concocts wonderful dishes without any help from me.
I was a little worried, however, when I saw him starting to run around the kitchen in the early afternoon. “You do know that they won’t be coming until around 8 o’clock or later, right?”
“No,” Patrick said, ever the optimist, “we told them to come early so we can have a few drinks and chat.”
“I know, but if you had really wanted them to come at seven we should have told them to come at six.”
See! I told you they wouldn’t be here at seven!
Maya Muses: I think tomorrow I’ll ask Patrick to show me his birth certificate that shows he was born in Normandy. Kind of like Obama, I want to make sure that paper is authentic!
What about my lamb?!
Oh yeah, I was afraid that Patrick’s leg of lamb was going to be more like mutton by the time we came to eating it, but he had let it bake slowly on a low flame. It was so tender and moist, it broke apart with your fork and the herbs had had time to infuse their flavors into the meat, it was wonderful!
No need to see his culinary school credentials! I know he’s a top chef!
Photo Credits: Flickr and Personal Photos