It was supposed to be a day of celebration. After the Fourth of July, we were primed and ready for a fête, this time honoring Francois’ home country.
Each year the French Embassy opens its doors to French citizens to come enjoy a night of live music, dancing, and never-ending service of French hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine and beer. The anticipation was high on a stiflingly hot and sticky Washington D.C. evening.
The mood was understandably somber at the conclusion of his address, but did turn more jovial – and competitive – once the food began to be passed around.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that each year, French chefs have prepared mountains of French finger food for which the crowd goes absolutely berserk. It really is a sight to behold: middle-aged women elbowing each other out of the way to get a taste of liver pâté; men plucking mini sandwiches off of platters as they are being taken to tables; crowds of people angling to get the last slice of toast topped with chèvre and fig jam. It’s every man for himself out there.
What the people forget every year in their bum rush to the toast and brie is that the chefs have prepared so much food that nobody will go hungry. By about the fifth round of passed plates, people aren’t so grabby anymore. There are always leftovers. But don’t tell that to the person who just saw the first plate of mini quiches emerge from the kitchen!
It turned out to be a beautiful evening despite the horrible events that had unfolded in Nice. The partygoers struck a respectful balance of tempering the festivities with having the resilience to honor the Bastille Day holiday and keep the French spirit alive.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those affected in Nice.