I’ve lived in France a  long time, and I entertain a lot. If I’ve learned one thing, it is not to listen to what people say here when they first walk in the door (unless it’s from list number two).The guests who say they are tired stay the longest; those who say they’re not hungry eat the most; those who are suspicious of something new almost always love it; and those who sniff at bending the rules jump in with gusto and do it the next time they have a dinner party. A good time is always had by all.  But when I first moved here and someone said, the second they arrived, that they weren’t going to eat much because they weren’t hungry,  I felt deflated. However, no more. Provocation is as French as….cheese after a meal.  (Or, as a French friend put it, maybe it is just a case of bad manners!).



  1. I’m not hungry.
  2. We’ll leave early, we’re so tired.
  3. You only have white?
  4. Yes, I eat raw beets but not as an appetizer..
  5. Oh, the portions are so large.
  6. Can you turn up the lights? I can’t see my food.
  7. Cheese, too?
  8. You serve the most unusual things.
  9. White after a red? That’s not normal.
  10. Have you gained some weight?
  11. Where is the ice cream?



  1. It smells so good – I could smell it right out to the street.
  2. We’ve been working so much, this feels like vacation.
  3. I love white or red, so whatever you’re pouring.
  4. Raw beets as an appetizer, with cumin? What a great idea.
  5. I thought I wouldn’t finish it, but it was so good I did.
  6. I love all the candles.
  7. Oh, the cheeses look incredible.
  8. I would never have thought of serving this together – I’m going to do it all the time, now.
  9. I’m so surprised – white after red is great.
  10. I feel happy, what a meal.




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18 Responses to A Certain Form of Etiquette

  1. Chip Parker says:

    Wise advice to remember! It’s much more generous (to the host and yourself) to let go and be in the moment – to fully appreciate the gift you are receiving of this new adventure. We love being on both sides of this – as hosts and guests.

    • Susan says:

      Absolutely, and nothing is more difficult for some. But then, that’s the point of the aperitif hour – get into the moment. Thanks for writing!

  2. LOL there is so much truth in this article! I think I may have been guilty of #3, so sorry. Being a host more than I am a guest makes me really appreciate your words of widsom.

    • Susan says:

      Cathy – I laugh every time it happens. My favorite is still “Oh la la, I’m not very hungry I’ve been doing nothing but eating for the last few weeks….” Then, plate wiped clean. People don’t realize that good manners are still the oil that greases humanity.

  3. Hello Susan, Joe here… The fellow with family in Muids. I just wanted to tell you I enjoy your blog and that I look forward to purchasing “In a French Kitchen”. It ‘s been a lovely autumn in the Pacific Northwest USA. Cheers.

  4. Peggy Bradley says:

    Dear Susan

    They do stop saying those things after a repeat dinner don’t they! What some don’t seem to believe is that I like doing those so-called extra things, and it isn’t a challenge for them to match.

    I so look forward to these entries.

    • Susan says:

      Peggy! It always makes me laugh, now, because none of it really means anything. It’s just people not thinking about what they are saying – perhaps they’re “mal eleve”!

  5. Shera Pillsbury says:

    I hope I didn’t say any of those things! 😉 All I can remember is what an amazing and memorable meal. One of the best experiences of my life to have visited your home. Thank you again! The company and food was divine!

  6. kellylytle1@gmail.com says:

    I totally agree with your comments, Susan! I would add that I have also become accustomed to Julia’s habit of “never apologizing for the food”. I think a gracious hostess makes for a memorable meal, even if the food is less than perfect. Thanks for reminding us how to be gracious guests!

  7. Oh my! After sampling several of your ice creams, can we really blame the person guilty of #11 on list one?

    Great tips!!

  8. Nan says:

    Very nice posting, sad some must be reminded…

  9. Marian Howell says:

    I entertain a lot and have never had a guest say anything negative like you have posted here. In fact, the minute my guests sit down they are too busy meeting and catching up with other guests. People who come to my home always rave about my food and genuinely gush about my table setting. They love sitting down to a beautiful table. I also am very particular who I invited so that my guests can enjoy interesting conversations.

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