FRENCH CULTURE MYTH: Parties are a multi-generational, all-night, drink a lot (but not too much) affair.
FRENCH REALITY: No joke, three for three. It was exactly like what I’ve read, and an absolute BALL.
My first “French” party!
I’m not talking a nightclub, either. Please. I’m talking an in-house fete that began at six o’ clock in the evening, and didn’t let up until FIVE IN THE MORNING. I’ll fess up and be the first to say I got tired after midnight, so I ended up “leaving” (read: seeking refuge in my bedroom downstairs) at about 1:30 am. But almost everyone else pushed through the night. I guess all the champagne and free sushi gave them the energy, while my one glass of red wine just made me sleepy.
Ah, the perils of being small and asian. Oh well. C’est la vie. And you heard right. SUSHI. I guess that was the slightly unusual part of my first French bash – not a morsel of french food in sight. But the man of the hour, my host mother’s son, loves sushi, and as it was his birthday….sushi it was! Two sushi chefs came to the house and made a giant table’s worth of rice, seaweed, and fish packages, which are far too easy to pop in one’s mouth. I think I had twenty pieces (well, that’s the conservative estimate). I’d never tried it before, so I hoped my taste buds would be accepting. Turns out I needn’t have worried, because me and sushi NOW? We’re best buds. I’ll eat sushi all day, everyday. Part of me is wondering how to study abroad in Japan.
So we know I ate well, but honestly, it was also probably one of the best nights I’ve had since I started college three years ago. What it is we actually did for oh, I don’t know, ELEVEN HOURS (seven and a half for me) mystifies me, but I know it involved a lot of toasting, striking up conversations with everyone in the room, drawing portraits of the kids at the party, dancing goofily to loud music, and laughing…lots of laughing. I loved that there were children and seventy-year-olds (and every age in between) all in the same room, having a grand time. There was no “children’s table”. The older folks didn’t putter off to bed (that would be me!). It was just….fun.
Confession: drinking culture in the U.S. has always confused and evaded me, especially in college settings. It was extremely refreshing to realize this past Saturday that drinking too much would have been embarrassing, a sign you can’t handle yourself; whereas at most American Universities throwing up the contents of your stomach after a prolific night of cheap liquor is…celebrated? Alcohol is treated like a taboo subject around little kids, whereas in Quebec City (and in most of Europe, I’ve heard from others) it’s just a facet of life that children don’t necessarily participate in, but definitely understand.
The whole night made me want to throw a ton of fantastic dinner parties that last well into the morning, and involve investing in some high quality wine. So that’s on the list for when I return!
Until next time,