Thursday, 5 December 2013


When I was buying a lot of French brocante, or bric-a-brac, mostly from wayside dealers in Normandy, I found a lot of large dinner services from the twenties and thirties, often in perfect unused condition. They were obviously wedding presents that had been carefully kept in the armoires and cabinets, their owners had passed away and the next generation thought them far too old-fashioned to use. Some of the designs were really pretty and original and were often hand-painted or decorated with stencils in excellent colours, mostly flowers and fruit.

The services usually had 12 each of soup and dinner plates, several meat plates, 2 sauce boats, two very large veg. dishes with lids and a large bowl for salad - hardly ever any pudding or side plates. I could buy these for about 150 - 200 Francs (take a nought off to convert to pounds) and always took one set to every fair and English buyers were so very pleased with them - and occasionally I eat off them at friends' houses - now rather in fashion! The circular metal stencil templates with openwork for the flowers and fruit, all from the art studio of a pottery, were a particularly good find one day and sold immediately at a London fair - wish I had kept a few!

One of the customs (and there are many) at le dejeuner which included a first course with veg and meat gravy. was le chabrol . The rule was that you should not start drinking the wine on the table until you got to the main course - so the thirsty peasants slaked their thirst by pouring a dash of wine into their soup plates and supping with a large spoon. Cunning!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for acquainting me with this clever custom...le chabrol. Perhaps it continues to be practiced, in slightly different mode or vessel, when folks would like a little wine before the host or hostess thinks they should.

    Your posts are always wonderful to read...I always learn something.