Genetics and Aperitif

“What are you doing ?’  MB has walked into the kitchen to find me scarfing down a bowl of pasta.

“What do you mean?  I’m eating,” I say as I shove another forkful into my mouth.

“Ouais…” he looks at me oddly.  “We are about to go to a dinner party.”

“I know.”

“So, why you are eating?”  MB looks thoroughly confused.

“Because I’m not French.”

I have decided that the French have a special gene that the rest of us (well, maybe Italians) don’t have; something akin to a wooden leg, something that allows them to consume copious amounts of wine without the slightest effect on their behavior.  While my French companions can blithely drink three or four glasses of wine on an empty stomach with no effect; I find myself clutching the table for support and hoping desperately that I can pull it together before dinner. 

Now normally, at a restaurant per se, you would just have one aperitif (often champagne) before the meal; however, it has been my experience that at dinner parties this rule is somewhat…flexible.  It would not surprise me to go to someone’s house for dinner and perhaps have wine for two hours before actually sitting down to eat.  Oh, but don’t worry, it is usually accompanied by something really substantive…like olives.  At one of the first dinner parties we hosted, I learned the dangers of beginning the evening in France with an empty stomach.  I will sum it up by saying at the end of the night I may have fallen off a chair, I definitely started a country music dance party, and I picked a ridiculous fight with MB a la “overly emotional teenage girl at prom”; there was crying.  The following 24 hours was spent nursing both a hangover and my ego. 

So what is a girl to do?  I can’t go into a dinner party and shovel all the olives into my mouth.  I can just imagine it…

“THE AMERICAN IS HERE!  Everybody run!!!!!!!!!!”  Accompanied by screaming, terrified French people pulling their children out of my way.

Nor can I realistically decline the offer of an aperitif.  1) Because I really like wine. 2) It would be considered quite an odd thing to do.

“This girl, she does not want the wine.”

“Quoi!  C’est bizarre!”

“Ouais, mais elle est Americaine…”

So, I eat snacks.  It may not be the perfect solution but until I figure out how to change my genetic coding, it’s the only one I’ve got!



  1. Hilarious every time! The French do seem to have a higher tolerance than we do. I don’t like eating at French people’s houses because they don’t eat until super late (mostly because they have 3 aperitifs…)! I get cranky if I don’t eat at a reasonable hour. Cranky + drunk off of the aperitif = a bad combo.

    I now eat dinner closer to 8/8:30 (before I ate around 7), but when we eat with other people sometimes we don’t get the actual dinner until around 10pm!



    1. Right!? I love an early dinner and it drives my boyfriend crazy. He comes home from work and I’m already cooking when for him he would prefer 8 or 9. It’s okay though…I’m starting to mold him to my ways. Muhahahahaha! 😉

      But yeah, at other peoples houses and even when we do our own dinner parties…never before 10. Sheesh!



  2. I just found your blog through Crystal’s and I’m loving it! I just read through your entire archives (good thing you haven’t been blogging for that long!) and it’s bringing back all kinds of memories of being the American in France. Love your perspective and your voice–can’t wait to read more!



  3. I love your blog! Glad to send some new readers your way (ie. Rachel from Diary of Why).

    As for the eating before dinner parties…I do it too. Any dinner party I’ve ever been to in France has started around 7pm, but we don’t actually sit down to eat til around 10pm or so. So that period between 7 and 10 is used for chit chat and drinking with minimal snacks (olives, as you mentioned, saucisson sec, which I don’t eat, maybe some peanuts or pistachios…) Considering the last time I ate in the day was probably noon, if I don’t eat before leaving for the dinner party, I’m 2 glasses of wine away from being a sloppy mess. And because I’m such a picky eater, I’ve often found myself not able to eat anything the host has prepared (besides the salad and bread), so I don’t see anything wrong with filling up at home beforehand…just in case.



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