For the homo homme, there's an unspoken expectation to be completely enamored with France and all of its potentially pretentious cultural affectations. It's impossible to survive a proper brunch or progressive dinner without being able to drop your preferred year of Bourgogne (do not get caught saying "Burgundy"), quoting obscure Godard screenplays or mentioning an anecdote from a boutique boulangerie in the Marais.
Why the Francophilia among this one section of society?
We could make generalizations about decadent indulgence and a keen handling of oral motor skills (necessary for mastering those difficult accents). Or maybe it's the French expectation of stylishness, or the fact that the culture's most iconic architectural manifestation is so phallic.
And while a love of all things French may be considered de rigueur, at one point I took the higher road and deemed this fascination as, dare I say, cliché, and leaned toward Spanish-speaking pursuits (or maybe it was because Buenos Aires was featured in the New York Times travel style magazine the week I was deciding what language to take in high school).
Although I have managed to know my way around the 19th and consumed a politically incorrect amount of foie gras, it wasn't until I impulsively enrolled in a beginner's language course at the Alliance Française that I actually got a pied in the door of French education.
I learned a few lessons from my original attempt at continuing education, but ultimately I found myself finishing homework as it was collected and reinterpreting any difficult question towards a conversation about baguettes or the preferred tables for people watching at Au Petit Paris. With the understanding that I'm more interested in eating French than being French, I made a reservation at the Beaujolais Soirée, a yearly harvest fête hosted by the French-American Chamber of Commerce.
Waltzing into last Thursday's event at the JW Marriott, I was first struck by the ballroom's glaring fluorescent lighting (actually, I was first struck by the confusing architecture of the parking lot, but I'm also not about to admit that I didn't valet). The authenticity of the food was questionable — perhaps the red velvet cake balls and sushi referenced a new, globalized France.
A band performed such decidedly American classics as "Rolling on the River," while Maroon 5 singles broadcast between sets. The emphasis seemed to be on the "American" in "French-American."
Of course, the main event was the tasting of the just-released Beaujolais Nouveau. If you're not already familiar with this annual process, don't worry, because it's not necessarily as classy as it sounds. The light-bodied red wine is fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November, which is commemorated across France as a light-hearted celebration of the season.
If Bud Light managed the marketing of Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine's "drinkability" would be a main selling point. Because it's yet to have developed more complex flavors, drinking Beaujolais Nouveau has been likened to eating cookie dough. I would doubt that Beaujolais would make such a great accompaniment to ice cream, but I'm not going to come to any quick conclusions.
Back to the party — cracking the requisite "getting BeaujoLAID" jokes gets old fairly quickly, and when it became clear that an auction item from Roche Bobois was not appropriate for exchanging French kisses upon, I made my way back home (picking up a few bottles of Georges Duboeuf on my way at Fiesta).
Aspiring to authentically identify with another culture is a big undertaking, and one that isn't to be taken lightly — so stick to light wines, steer clear of irregular verb conjugations, and most importantly, always take advantage of valet (remember, the "t" is silent).