Friday, December 12, 2003

Elegance and Style
On Wednesday night, we went to the French Family Fete, as hosted by Mark's aunt and uncle. The invitation, a fancy affair unto itself, said cocktails and dinner, beginning at 6:00. We got there at almost 8:00, after a long, circuitous adventure in driving all around a rather unfortunate neighborhood of Detroit, only to find ourselves, obviously, on the wrong Hendrie Lane, as the one we wanted was in Grosse Pointe Farms, which is an altogether different sort of neighborhood.

When we finally did get to where we were actually supposed to be, I was amazed at first, the neighborhood, and second, the house. Every house there was huge and decorated in style that epitomizes the word "tasteful." As Mark was attempting to navigate through the half-remembered neighborhood of part of his childhood, he casually muttered to himself, "Right, so the yacht club is over there, which means..." I felt a bit like I had stepped into a movie.

When we got to the door, we were greeted by a small Irish woman who offered to take our coats and get us something to drink. Mark says that this is the woman Henry and Hadley "have in" to serve at parties. Henry is Mark's father's brother, and in that generation of the French family, the boys all went to boarding school, and when at home, still dressed for dinner, so everyone at the party, including us, was dressed nicely. Mark's 10-year-old cousin Welling was in a coat and tie, even. At shortly after 8, we were all directed to the dining room to begin the meal.

The dining room itself was a sight to behold. It was painted a glossy crimson red, with white baseboards and molding. There were three round tables set up, two for adults and one off to the side in a nook for the children. Each place was set with a gold-painted plate, a red wrapped present centered on each one, and had an old-fashioned Christmas popper above the dessert fork in red and gold. The seats alternated male/female, with name cards, of course, and when we opened the presents, it turned out that all the women had gotten lavender-scented shoe stuffers, and the men tiny mini power screwdrivers. The kids got toys of some sort.

The first course was thinly sliced ham with two canteloupe slices laid flat to form a circle around the edges of the plate over the ham. This course was followed by the main course, deviled chicken with sides of pasta and salad. Hadley told us the chicken recipe was one said to have been served to the Queen of England. It would appear that the queen eats well. Dessert was a pastry cut in half, filled with peppermint stick ice cream, and topped with hot fudge. After dinner, we retired to the living room to admire the Christmas tree, discuss Hadley's art glass collection, and drink coffee.

Truly, I wish I'd had a camera, although it would have no doubt been gauche to wander around their house taking pictures, because the entire evening was overwhelmingly visual. There were also a lot of names I was supposed to remember, but I think the image of the dining room is going to make a more definitive and lasting impression.

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