While I was studying in Paris, the mother of one of the French Jesuits told her son to bring all the foreigners for “a proper French meal” one Sunday. I should have known that something extraordinary was going to happen when we were instructed to be at the house by 10:30a.m. for lunch.
We sat down, truth to be told, to more courses than I can now remember. Suffice it to say that we were at table until after 4:00p.m. It was a gastronomic tour de force with oysters, crab, lobsters and other seafood, charcuterie, salads and several other succulent dishes. The main course was coq au vin – chicken cooked in wine – and I learned that this is an expensive dish if prepared properly because the wine used to marinate the chicken should be the same as that served with that course.
We weren’t only drinking wine. In order “to make room” for all the food, our hostess regularly plied us with le trou normand – literally, “the Normandy hole” – which consisted of shots of iced vodka. I remember taking several of those…
It will come as no surprise, then, that I don’t recall any of what must have been the excellent desserts or the ride home in the subway afterward! What I do recall is that when I got back to the Jesuit Residence on the rue Blomet, I decided to go to bed for a little rest… I woke up 18 hours later.
Now that’s what I call a lunch!