The Dîner en Blanc is synonymous with an elegant summer party between close friends and new friends. And I was lucky enough to [pseudo] attend two in Paris, the first at Place des Vosges right in my Parisian neighborhood and the second in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Few people know, however, the story behind the annual flashmob picnic which started over twenty years ago when a Frenchman decided it was time to return to Paris after years of living abroad. So many wanted to come to his return party that they opted to meet in the Bois de Boulogne. Before the age of cell phones, the invitees decided to come dressed in white so they could find each other.
While I thought it was would be a fun idea for a private party, it was actually my mom who approached me with the idea for a small welcome back party soon after my return to Philadelphia. And how appropriate considering the origins of the opulent Parisian affair?
Under a canopy of lanterns and patio lights, dressed tablecloths of clean white were draped over a single line of tables. White dinner plates with silverware dotted the place settings. Fresh floral arrangements of ivory and blush were evenly placed as the center pieces. And for a final touch, candles were lit across the long white table.
Champagne was poured just as the guests were arriving. The menu, as happenstance would have it, was a perfectly synchronized mix of Provençal, American and Parisian specialties – all homemade by my mom and I. Although, credit for the mouthwatering delicious desserts goes to a close friend who also happens to be a professional pastry chef.
Soon I was surrounded by a sea of white as the deck filled with guests – my closest friends and family. Their laughter carried throughout the evening making me feel all the more assured that I had made the right decision to return. Night fell and the air filled with music, an eclectic mix of French and English ambient and jazzy tunes.
And so my return to the US began…