Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Age of Grace and Civility: The Aperitif

Betty Draper in Rome and l'aperitif

One day last week, I was watching one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations," when he referred to the aperitif as "one of the last relics of the age of grace and civility." In the process of getting ready to prepare dinner, my mind drifts back to what he meant. Now this may say something about me (and the French), but the last time I had this so-called "aperitif" was years ago in the Eiffel Tower's restaurant just before a meal that was as equally elegant as it was delicious. The show coupled with that lovely (too distant for my liking) memory led me to the question:

Has the elegant art of the aperitif become extinct or did it ever even exist in America? And furthermore, what other "relics of the age of grace and civility" has my generation lost?

Now let's get one thing straight, it's obvious a po-dunk little town in western North Carolina is not going to offer Kir Royales at their local Applebee's, but what's the excuse for the rest of America? Having lived in a big city, perhaps the greatest of all, and by sources to whom I will always be grateful, I was lucky enough to be able to experience more than an average broke on your ass college student. There were countless, glorious nights out on the town beginning with drawn out happy hours (not the kind that consists of cheap beer and half-priced wings, mind you, the kind where Sarah Jessica pops in a few tables down) followed by slow, leisurely dinners peppered with bottles of vintage wine and at the minimum 3 courses. Class? Yes. Smance factor? Yes. The price tag to match? Yes, and yes, but yet no sign or offering of the elusive aperitif.

And why not?! This meal opener serves to spark the appetite and the conversation. It encourages you to slow down and savor. With each sip it beckons, kick back, relax, stay awhile- the best is yet to come!

I don't know about you, but I'm going to take it from the French and make it a point to put this lost art into practice. Grace, civility, and Campari- here I come! CHEERS!

Fabulous bar cart fully equipped for the aperitif, after dinner digestifs,
and everything in between! via Fifi Cheek

p.s. Stay tuned...Mr. Bourdain inspired a whole list of things we are so bringing back. And also, I realize Campari is technically Italian, but it sounded better than lillet or get the picture ;)
Unknown said...

that first picture is soooo elegant.

PS I would love it if you dropped by my new blog!! <3

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