How To Host The Perfect French Dinner Party
Imitating French culture is all the rage right now in the United States. The headlines keep pouring in: “Dress like a French girl;” “Do your hair like a French girl;” the list goes on. But want to know one of the best things you can do in your quest to “Frenchify” your life? Host the ultimate French dinner party.
Invite your most culturally sophisticated friends, take a stab at these authentic recipes and prepare to impress! We’ll even give you some French phrases to sprinkle into the conversation for maximum effect.
When you’re selecting a drink to accompany a French meal, wine is always a safe bet. But this is a special occasion, so let’s go with something a little fancier. Kir is a popular French cocktail made with Crème de Cassis (a sweet blackcurrant liqueur) and white wine. According to one recipe, the proper ratio is about one-fifth Créme de Cassis and four-fifths dry white wine, such that the final product is a pale blush color and only slightly sweet.
You can also take the elegance level up a notch by opting for a Kir Royal , which substitutes Champagne for the white wine. Pro tip: In order for the drink to mix well, always pour the Créme de Cassis into the glass first and then add the wine.
Entrée (Appetizer): Escargot
Before we get to the food, we need a brief explainer on terminology. When Americans call the main course an “entrée,” we’re doing it wrong. The word “entrée” means “entrance” in French, so it’s actually more like what we would call an “appetizer” — the entry point to the meal.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s snail time! If you’re going to treat your friends to a proper French meal, you’ve got to start with escargot. Some grocery stores will carry the snails you need for this dish, but you can also order them online. Here’s a classic escargot recipe — wild snails with parsley butter, garlic and shallots.
Main Course: Boeuf Bourguignon
Now it’s time for the main course, or le plat principal (not the entrée!). Boeuf bourguignon, which means “beef from Burgundy,” originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France. It’s essentially a beef stew cooked in red wine and flavored with onion, carrots, garlic and other spices. This recipe is based on that of famed chef and TV host Julia Child. Just make sure you start early because boeuf bourguignon takes about five hours to make. Trust us, it’s well worth the effort!
The Cheese Course
Yes, you read that correctly. The French will often have a plateau de fromages (“cheese platter”) between the main course and dessert. No complaints here! Check out this guide for an idea of what types of cheeses to include. Serve the cheese with some fruit, nuts, jam, and, of course, a French baguette.
Dessert: Mousse Au Chocolat
By this point in the meal, your guests will probably be stuffed to the brim. Fortunately, this dessert is a relatively light way to end the evening. Mousse au chocolat, or chocolate mousse, is silky smooth chocolate melted down into a pudding-like texture. This particular recipe calls for bitter dark chocolate mixed with egg whites, brandy, fine granulated sugar and whipped cream.
Key French Phrases
I’m hungry — J’ai faim
I’m full — Je n’ai plus faim
Please — S’il vous plaît
Thank you — Merci
You’re welcome — De rien
Enjoy your meal — Bon appétit
It’s delicious! — C’est délicieux !