A French dinner…

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Festival of France

Calcutta got a taste of France this weekend in the form of two events, designed by an experienced French chef, Stéphane Mathonneau, brought to town for the purpose by the Alliance Française du Bengale and the French Embassy, sponsored by Land Rover Jaguar, and hosted by the Hyatt Regency for the festival Bonjour India. 

Stéphane Mathonneau

Stéphane Mathonneau

The first of these events was a seated, 6-course fund-raising gala dinner. Any concerns that Calcuttans might be reluctant to participate in such an event proved quite unfounded as was testified by the numbers who arrived, to be received with chilled Champagne, foie gras and truffles and sad French melodies liltingly played on the saxophone. Diners were then ushered into Hyatt’s regency garden, where the white linen and roses, the silver and glassware, were illuminated by strings of white paper lanterns. The stiff unseasonable breeze that set these lanterns swinging did not succeed in cooling the convivial atmosphere as dish after dish of subtly conceived and elegantly presented haute cuisine were set down. The pièce de résistance was the meltingly tender duck in a fine sweet sauce. And although sadly ripe soft cheeses did not make it over from France on this occasion, very fine wine, tailored to each course, did. And that was compensation enough. Of the 140-odd who attended, those expatriates who came to have a rare taste of home, and those locals who came to have a rare taste of something different, were equally satisfied.

Besides the pleasure of good food, the aim of the dinner was to raise funds for charity. The organisers selected two local NGOs, influenced in their choice by the recent events in India that have so highlighted the issue of violence against women. The first, Sanlaap, runs refuges and offers help and support to children rescued from having been trafficked into Kolkata to work in the sex trade here; the second, Ektara, works in a very deprived part of Kolkata, providing education to children who might otherwise have ended up with little option save in the sex trade themselves. As all the costs of the dinner had been met by its sponsors, all ticket sales went directly to these causes, and at the end of the dinner, the NGO’s were delighted to learn that they would recieve two lakhs each.

Sanlaap

Sanlaap

For those interested in a more informal French affair, a French market lunch was on offer. The steady grey rain that would have washed away the dinner the evening before, thankfully held off for long enough to lend authenticity to the Parisian market ambiance, and did not deter the numbers who attended. Children carried plates heaped high with pommes frites and then splashed around in the puddles, while the adults chose from a variety of delicate soups, fresh salads, fricassés  and grillades, and  everyone appreciated the tarte aux fraises, profiteroles, and crepe suzette as a sweet conclusion to it all.

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Rédaction

Directeur de publication : Délégation Générale de la Fondation Alliance Française en Inde et au Népal

Rédacteur en chef : Laurent Elisio Bordier

Rédacteur/Coordinateur national : Siddharth Bhatt

Rédacteurs, contributeurs : Guillaume, Abhirami, Alexandre, Chintan, Cléa, David, Eleonore, Elie, Kanika, Karine, Nita, Thomas, Malvika, Marie-Joëlle, Meera, Mayuri, Mitushi, Alice, Prutha, Romain, Ritika, Manas, Supriya ...