Etiquette. It can be a big deal in France apparently. Much is written about what to do or avoid doing when dealing with the French such as always saying “Bonjour” when entering a shop-if you don’t you are thought to be rude. I recently read on a blog somewhere that you should never take wine as a gift when invited to someone’s home for dinner as the recipients will think that you think they don’t know enough about wine and need your help for the correct choice. I asked Maurice about this and he said it wasn’t true. It would only be true for a very formal dinner but for a dinner with friends bringing wine is fine.
So, we went to dinner at a friend’s-and brought a bottle of wine which was happily accepted-and Maurice brought up what I had read as I told above. The guy, who is a pretty formal person, agreed and said that you also shouldn’t take flowers because the wife is busy cooking dinner and then has to dig up a vase and take care of the flowers and it can be a hassle. I did once get a bouquet of flowers from three different people and have to admit he has a point as I could only find two vases. He said the proper thing to do,especially for a more formal affair, is to have flowers delievered a couple of hours before dinner. That had never occured to me.
We all got to talking about etiquette and a young man who was there told me that America has all sorts of etiquette rules for dinners. This was news to me. I told him that, except for being late to someone’s home for dinner, I didn’t think there were that many rules in the States. He informed me that he took a course in college and that I was wrong. For instance, if I had a senator to dinner where would I seat him? To my right. If I had two senators the one on my right wouldn’t be the one I liked the best but the one belonging to the State that had entered the union first. I’m assuming that if I ever host a dinner in Washington, DC or in the White House, I will have to remember these rules but I doubt if I will ever have this problem. I left that night thinking that this arrogant young man should learn that you don’t tell someone from another country what the etiquette is their own country. You shouldn’t tell someone what’s wrong with the meal you just served them either which has happened to me here in France.