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french party ideas

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so the murder mystery dinner i'm throwing is based in paris in 1940 - war time but on a high end train leaving the city before the war. still supposedly very exclusive though. know dinner and will of course have tons of red wine on hand. have some ideas for dessert as i have done this party before but would love new suggestions as well as apps and cocktails. pre prep or not too hard is good because i want to have fun but mainly because i'm also running the mystery part. thanks!!!!!!

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  1. Couldn't you choose say, 1935? Not a whole lot of partying going on in France in 1940.

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    1. Mpalmer6c is right! But let's not quibble. If you want to be really French, apps are quite minimal as to not spoil the appetite for the main event, i.e.bowls of nuts and olives, main course could be any fabulous French stew, ie Blaquette de Veau (my personal favorite) or Coq au Vin or Boeuf Bourguignon, followe by a simple green salad and cheese board.

      1. Gourgeres and champagne for your app. Tres chic, tres delicieux and tres simple! You can also have the option of a kir royale instead of plain champagne.

        1. While 1940 Parisians may just as well have been eating German food by then....

          What about escargots for an appetizer? Crepes for dessert. Or Crepes a la Reine for dinner.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gourmanda

            not all foodies and i don't know they'd all do escargot. it's why coq au vin is so great. it's lovely and traditional but it's made out of ingredients that everyone will eat.
            crepes are a great ides for dessert.

          2. Well, considering Larousse Gastronomique was published in 1938, I would reference an early copy for ideas (thanks to Amazon's search inside feature, you can keyword search and then view whole pages). For example, on a page about catering cocktail parties, dishes include: crustades, bouchees, timbales, vol-au-vent, pates, galantines and ballotines, chaud-froids, dishes in aspic, canapes, and ice cream and petit fours.

            1. These are obviously the élite, not the droves of poor souls leaving on foot, by bicycle, in overcrowed motor vehicles, with carts or whatever. I suppose despite some shortages they found dainties to eat. Champagne would have been hidden away in cellars, so there certainly was some for the means to pay for it.

              These are people with the means of leaving before the actual Occupation, during the so-called "phoney war" (drôle de guerre).

              As for the German occupiers, the officers at least certainly indulged in Parisian haute cuisine...

              But I hope your mystery dinner will have some allusions to the general living conditions there and then.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lagatta

                My French father-in-law used to say, "During times of peace, livi in the city; in times of war, live in the country." In wartime Parisians would go to their relatives who lived on farms to get provisions such as meat, especially rabbit, so rabbit stew would be appropriate (lapin au vin blanc is delicious if you can get over the source) or buy on the black market if they had the funds since everything was rationed. So have your champagne if you wish, or have a hearty stew with chunks of country bread with some simple wine to reflect some of the conditions at the time. BTW, coffee with chicory would also be appropriate as chicory was used to extend the rationed coffee.

              2. Curious as to what your dinner menu is.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nemo

                  the thing is it's all scripted on the box. they tell me it's 1940. june 13th to be exact and these select few people are about to get on the last train out before the city is totally occupied. so i can't make it 1938. :) it has taped parts you listen to and scripts for the characters and all. there are dukes and princesses and black marketeers and a parfumerie heiress and a RAF captain, etc. predone. VERY fun.
                  anyway the menu is coq au vin (suggested and what i did last time). i believe i had haricot verts and i personally prefer noodles to potatoes despite that being homier. may do roasted/parslied potatoes this time instead to seem more upsacale. last time i did it was years ago in grad school with very little money and i did a homemade chocolate mousse for dessert and cannot for the life of me remember what i did for an appetizer. it was seated because everyone is listening to the script.

                  1. re: AMFM

                    You could make profiteroles for dessert.

                2. Get some luscious napoleans from a good bakery, or a tart tatin served warm with ice cream.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: weezycom

                    tarte tatin is actually an excellent selection since in october apples are very in season in VA. and i could make ahead. thanks.