Tag Archive for 'french wedding menus'

french wedding traditions: bread tastings


Attention Bridezilla’s! I’ve just found a new wedding stresser for you, and it’s a doozie!  So, you and your planner have just left the final meeting with your catering manager. The meal has been dutifully pre-tasted and modified to your liking.  You’ve confirmed the lighting and decor of the dining room, made sure that the flowers will be vibrant and open (but not too open too early), the cake will be moist (but not too moist), the champagne will be cool and crisp and served in 6 oz champagne flutes (and not the 4 oz. ) but…what about the bread? My GAWD, WHAT-ABOUT-THE-BREAD????

At American weddings, not much fuss is made about the bread served with dinner.  It’s pretty much the same basket of rolls that you get in finer restaurants from coast to coast. But in France, where NO meal is complete without a baguette, it’s kind of a big deal. Big enough to warrant fairly detailed guidelines for choosing correctly when selecting your wedding menu, as outlined in this article on MarieClaire.fr. Here’s my translated recap. Who knew?:

Wedding Bread

“The bread served during a wedding dinner is often practical, but is unfortunately not always of good quality. For a successful dinner, take care that the bread that you offer compliments the meal. To make sure that everything goes smoothly during your wedding dinner, pay attention to even the smallest of details, which are, despite everything, very important- including… The Bread” (emphasis is mine).

“Indeed, each dish has its bread of reference, and the dish will taste differently whether you serve it with pain de campagne, rye bread or leavened bread…”

The choice of the bread

“It’s normally up to the caterer to decide which bread will be served with a meal. Usually, they will propose a more french-heart-breadobvious choice, like baguettes or bastards (huh? I swear it says that! What does that mean???) Ask your caterer if you can taste all of the breads that he is proposing: keeping in mind that just because a bread is called “pain de campagne” doesn’t mean that it will have the taste and quality of a pain de campagne….If you’re not happy with your caterers choice of bread, you can always order a different one yourself elsewhere.”

“If you want a specialty bread, like a fougasse aux gratons, originating in the Languedoc region, or Bretzels, from the Alsatian area, know that certain bakers will make them especially for you, if you order a large enough quantity of it. Don’t hesitate to flip through caterer or bakery brochures to get an idea of what types of breads they provide.”

And then the article goes on to describe the different breads: “Pain de Mie: Easy to slice, used for aperitifs, toasts and canapés. Pain de Seigle: Goes well with marinated fish, seafood, soft cheeses… Le Baguette or Batard (which does mean bastard, right?): Accompanies cold-cuts, red meats and raw veggies. Best seller in France, baguettes (or flutes, depending on what region you’re in) is indispensable in any meal…)”

I found this article so funny and so charming because it illustrates another subtle cultural difference between French and American weddings.  I’m imagining a French bride in New Jersey asking her American caterer to do a “bread tasting”…she’d probably be met with the same reaction as the American bride in Paris gets when she presents her French photographer with her “Wedding Photography Shot List” (a perfectly acceptable thing to provide in the States, but completely frowned upon by photographers in France.).  Ah, well. Vive les differences!

- parisian events, May 2007

parisian party giveaway: thanksgiving pies


Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with it comes the love/hate relationship that I, along with several other of my American expat friends it seems, have with celebrating Thanksgiving in Paris. We, of course, love the nostalgic flavors of the dinner buffet, the chance to spend a nice, pressure-free time with our immediate family and/or friends, and the very un-French opportunity to don maternity pants and eat ourselves into a coma. What we all agree that we HATE, though, is the hunting and gathering (and trial and error) involved in trying to prepare a culturally traditional feast in a foreign country. Things like figuring out where to buy a “Butterball” turkey (and how to say “please remove ALL the feathers as well as the head, feet, AND giblets” in French), how to pay less than 8 euros for a can of pumpkin, where to find pecans in Paris, or the key  to making your grandma’s sweet potato pie recipe out of the pink African patates douces that you find at the market. That’s where my good friend Alisa comes to the rescue. First, she told me about the épicerie G. Dutou in the 2nd  arrondissement where you can find “home grown” spices and fixings from around the world- including things like pecans and dark molasses for pecan pie. Then she agreed to take it one step further and team up with me on a Parisian Party Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway!

Alisa, who is the owner of Sweet Pea Baking in Paris as well as a cookbook author, has literally written the book on Meringues, sweet-pea-paris-piesCupcakes and Birthday Cakes in France.  Together, we’re going to make your Thanksgiving in Paris that much easier, AND your dessert buffet that much sweeter-  by giving away a (figurative) cornucopia of holiday pies!

Sweet Pea Baking is putting together a mixed box of a dozen classic American mini pies – pecan, pumpkin and lemon meringue- made especially for one lucky parisian party reader.

To win this down-home, holiday goodness, all you have to do to is:

1. Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Thanksgiving pie or dessert is (mandatory).

And for extra chances to win:

2. “Follow” parisian party on Twitter (then leave another comment here telling me you did so).

3. “Like” parisian party on Facebook (then leave another comment here telling me you did so).

4. “Like” Sweet Pea Baking on Facebook (then leave another comment here telling me you did so).

The contest is open until Friday, November 18, 2011 at 8:00PM Paris time. One winner will be chosen and contacted on Saturday, November 19th, 2011. The winner must be able to pick up the dessert box from Sweet Pea Baking in the 15th arrondissement in Paris on either November 22nd,  23rd or at a later, predetermined date.  For any technical questions about the pies (i.e. can they be kosher/gluten free/vegan, etc.), please email Alisa at sweetpeaparis@gmail.com.

Bon chance à tous!

french wedding traditions: le trou normand

You’re at your very first French wedding reception and you can’t believe that even though you sat down to eat well over two hours ago,  they’re still bringing out food - with not even a hint of an end in sight.  Before you even made it to the table, you stuffed yourself full of amuse-bouche: Torsadées Feuilletées au Jambon, Tartinade de chèvre au basilic et à l’ail, and some little round meat-things that tasted like cheese.  Once comfortably seated à table, you gorged yourself on slabs of Foie gras de Canard aux figues & son chutney de poire et mangue, then Trois crusacés pour une Ecume & Son Coulis Pourpre followed by an amazing Magret de canette grillé sauce périgourdine.

After the plates are cleared, you scan the room for the happy couple, certain that its finally time to crack the croquembouche. Instead,  a waiter appears in front of you and sets down a  dainty little glass of what looks like a scoop of ice cream, but smells like fruity alcohol (??).  Ah, the famous “hidden” French dinner course: Le Trou Normand.


Le Trou Normand, The Normand Hole, is a strong alcohol served with a small scoop of sorbet that’s served during French weddings and large dinners. The idea is to clean the palate and stimulate the appetite- to give you a feeling of emptiness so that you can go back and tuck more in. The tradition, which started in Normandy, goes back several centuries. Originally, it was just a small glass of apple brandy (Calvados) served midway between a big meal. These days , any number of alcohols and flavors of sorbet can be served, depending on the region of France that you’re in or the course that is about to be served: Vodka and lemon sorbet go nicely with fish or seafood , whereas traditional Calvados  and apple sorbet are perfect for foie gras.

To make your own Trou Normand, place one or two small scoops of high-quality sorbet (if you can’t find apple sorbet in the store, try making your own- feel free to substitute apple with lemon or lime)  into a pretty martini glass or champagne coupe, then slowly pour the Calvados over it, top it off with a sprig of mint or lemon zest, et voila!  A simple recipe that can easily be incorporated into any French or Paris-themed wedding celebration.