Monday, 7 July 2014

Dining in the dark

Do you remember the traditional 1980s style dinner-parties involving table-cloths, polished silverware, flower arrangements, and well-dressed guests drinking Blue Nun wine and enjoying prawn cocktail followed by chickien kiev?  Saturday night was nothing like that.

Preparations started in the morning with a trip to the supermarket – in Spain - as the prices are so much cheaper.  In fact I totally misheard the butcher and thought he was asking me for ‘Treize’ euros (13 euros in french, which I thought was reasonable) but he actually said ‘Tres’ (3 euros in Spanish – even better!)  Spending an afternoon slaving over a hot stove has never been my idea of a good time (I’m surprised M & S hasn’t gone bankrupt since I left England) and bearing in mind that the temperature that day was 38 degrees, we decided to cheat a little.   A lot actually.  Having decided on a slightly Moroccan themed menu we tracked down a restaurant and asked them to prepare a Tajine and sat and had a beer in the shade while they cooked it. 

The hardest part of the rest of the afternoon’s preparations was the immense amount of time it took to peel the stickers off the newly purchased plates and glasses – and also trying to stop all the sun-lounger cushions from flying into the pool as by this time a strong wind had picked up and outside was not just an oven, but a fan oven.  With just 5 minutes to spare (just time to apply a second layer of make-up and drag a brush through my hair) everything was ready and the guests arrived.  I had invited my ‘young’ tennis partners and their wives and my first surprise was not just how brightly coloured their clothes were but the wonderful presents they brought – plants for the garden, champagne, home-made conserves, etc.  All very generous and very welcome. 
While my command of the French language is OK on a one-to-one basis, when there are 9 people talking at once I find it very hard to keep track of what they are saying but it was an evening of fun and laughter – mainly at my expense I fear!  Hopefully the fact that the evening didn’t end until 1am speaks for itself, and I learned four valuable lessons.  Firstly, never/always invite Joel to your house – he never stopped taking photos all night and it felt a bit like an invasion of the Paparazzi (although many thanks to him for forwarding all 64 photos), secondly, if you have a dog who is addicted to playing with tennis balls it is always useful to invite tennis players to a SoirĂ©e, thirdly, I need lights in the Pergola – due to the high winds the candles kept blowing out and nobody could see what they were eating, but the final and most important lesson is to invite French friends more regularly