I love apéritif, or apéro for short. (In plain English, pre-dinner cocktails). Taking a slow moment to enjoy your time with your friends/family over a drink and some light finger food or snacks is a great pleasure. Whether you’re having a neat whiskey (like F), a glass of cola with lemon (F’s sister), a mojito (F’s mom), or a nice, cold beer, it’s a wonderfully relaxing moment to converse and spend a nice moment together. To whet the appetite, the host may put out an assortment of small dishes to enjoy, such as: toasts spread with tapenade, radishes or cherry tomatoes, sliced saucisson (dry cured pork sausage), olives, nuts.
Then there is “apéro-dinatoire,” where cocktail hour extends through dinner, with various small dishes to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. If it’s a potluck-style affair, I like to bring something special, like ripe cantaloupe cubes wrapped with nice parma ham, or new recipes for which I need taste testers: mini falafel, savory cake, dumplings… I make a mean homemade garlic and herb spread, too. Thankfully, I find that my French compadres are very willing guinea pigs!
Apéro is something I’d love to do in the States; there’s no pressure to hurry up with the meal, and the emphasis is on taking one’s time and appreciating the company of the people around you. Slow down, take it easy… Yeah, I can get used to that.