Test Guests and Butter Brain.

We may or may not have eaten all of this cheese.

It’s been far too long since I updated you (few) loyal readers on my latest Parisian antics. And that’s in part because I’m kind of working (booo! hiss!) and taking too many French classes to count (mon dieu!). But it’s also because we had our very first guest, all the way from Finland!

This was a momentous event for many reasons, but mostly because in my 30 years of life I have not yet been forced to be a real grown-up host. You know, someone with an official guest room, someone who provides matching towels, someone who isn’t totally satisfied letting you pass out on the sofa with a sleeping bag for the night.

Believe me, I certainly never thought I would be such a person. It’s not that I don’t love having my friends and family over. But your hosting standards have a hard time evolving past those of a college undergrad when, well, you still live in a hobbit hole of an apartment like a college undergrad.

Still in the “throw some chips in a bowl and call it a party!” mindset, I even foolishly put all my hosting-appropriate wedding gifts into storage before moving to Paris. I thought I was too cool for chafing dishes. I scoffed at crystal stemware. A dining room table? Whatever.

And then we moved in to the most ridiculously opulent apartment I will ever live in. Suddenly I would give up anything for a silver Well and Tree.

(Attention young readers: once you desire something like a Well and Tree, your life is over.)

Anyway, Dylan from Finland was our first real official visitor. A Test Guest if you will, because I planned on trying out all my hosting best on him. I ran around for groceries, I stocked up on wine, I scrubbed the toilet and the bidet (don’t worry, no one uses it. Right Husband?). I figured if all else failed, I would ply Dylan the Test Guest with enough champagne and French food to thoroughly blur any real recollection of his trip.

So from the minute he showed up on my doorstep, we ate. Cheese and champagne, pâté and rabbit, even pancakes and bacon. We plowed our way through onion soup and macarons and a ludicrously wonderful pain au chocolat aux amandes. By day four we were slowing down a bit. But somehow we made room for roasted goat cheese with honey granola and, craving some vegetables, settled on a lentil soup topped with foie gras.

(This is where things get hazy, but somewhere along the way we did see the Pantheon, and then I got hit by a bicyclist as I crossed the street in a pastry-induced stupor. I think that might of hurt, but I don’t remember.)

After a final morning of crepes and a quick pre-lunch stop for a mille-feuille, I left Test Guest at the Arc de Triomphe, dazed and smiling and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Success!

I returned home to detox, assured of my hosting prowess. That is, until I got a rather urgent sounding email from Dylan. Seems he missed his bus, then got on the wrong bus, then got on the right bus, only to miss his flight back to Finland. He didn’t make it home until 4am.

Uh oh, was that a hostess-fail? I don’t know. He looked pretty damn happy when I left him. But perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here: maybe it’s best not to get your guests hopped up on pastry cream and goose liver and then send them out into the city to fend for themselves.

But then again, maybe that’s exactly what they’re coming to see you for in the first place.


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  1. Maria

    You are a talented writer! Christopher asked our neighbor what her bidet was (when he was about three or four years old). She said it was “for washing her bottom.” He said, “Mrs. Schu, will you wash my bottom?” I say, give it a try, Jen!

  2. anna rose

    i’ll still love you if we DON’T have matching towels. I was even going to ask you if you wanted us to bring our own! ha! And, just so you know, i will greatly enjoy being all hopped up on pastry cream & goose liver. Throw some french champagne in there and i’ll be a happy fille!

  3. Lauren

    Hmm, so the key to Dylan subterfuge is being nice to him, and only then will bad things happen to him? You see why this puts me in a pickle. If only I was *guaranteed* that bad things would happen to him if I choked out some kindness…

  4. Dylan

    Shut it, Burgoon.

    Anna Rose, you are definitely going to enjoy yourself! Jennie and Nate are great hosts. Thanks again, you two!

  5. 100 Funny Things. « Unlikely Diplomat

    […] Looking back through all my anecdotes and diatribes has made me realize just how much we’ve all learned over the past year. You readers are so totally prepared for life in France now! You’ve got Paris covered, no sweat. Why? Because I’ve shared all there is to know about dog poo covered sidewalks and how to call someone a “nice beetch.” You know all about hoo-ha molds, danger bees, and of course, baby jesus in velvet pants. You have been well versed in the many merits of champagne and pain au raisins for breakfast. And the looming danger of butter brain. […]

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