Sunday, May 18, 2008

Le Diner Etrange

Only in Paris, with a group of French people expected at a dinner themed Le Diner Etrange would the first thoughts of what to cook be peppered, excuse the pun, with the ingredients above.

Chili. Strange to French. Espresso Chili. Strange to the few Americans.
Chiles. A heavy hand with both the whole ones from Passage Brady and the flakes from Istanbul and homemade chili powder.
Spicy Hot Chocolate with the Mayan Chocolate from San Sebastian.
Donuts. Savory ones. Sprinkled in paprika. Sel de cannelle. Fleur de sel.

The strangest event of the day was the 80F temperature while I cooked kidney beans for hours and then melted chocolate into milk before steeping it with some cinnamon and more chile.

What am I doing?
I emailed Dana , why am I cooking these spicy things as I sweat in my 5th floor apartment?

How can I make jello shots out of sheet gelatin? Dana replied, and thus the collaboration of 2 American girls feeding a table of French people strange food began.

I served up fat bowls of the chile, which after cooking all day had the creaminess of mole ("it's a savory dish with chocolate!" I'm later explaining, with the help of the lone Chilean, to a Frenchman. "Chocolat?" he clarifes. 5 times. Then asks for exactly what I mean by the fact that there is espresso in the chili.).

I watched as people picked, very politely, bean by bean, mixing in the creme fraiche as their last hope - "there's more creme!" I offer, but they all assure me they love this chili, before putting it down and blowing their noses.

We 2 American girls and mostly-American Liam have cleaned our bowls and are salivating over the others'.

Dana cooked up amazing broiled shark and a watermelon and feta salad and people picked at the Lemondrop Jello-shots.

I spent a long time re-heating hot chocolate spilled so many times in transit that I was relieved to see Dana pull out shot glasses to serve it with fruit and donuts that failed miserably. Gourgeres. Sans fromage et avec sel de canelle.

"These are quite wet in the middle," a Frenchman cautioned me, "they should be more dry."

I attempted to explain how I didn't know how to use Dana's oven, how the hot chocolate had spilled on the parchment in my bag, and then I dropped it, winking my eye to say .. ."etrange? eh?"

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