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  Home > Europe News > Eat, drink, and learn at a Paris lunchtime seminar

Eat, drink, and learn at a Paris lunchtime seminar

Paris, France (October, 2004) -- Whoever said the three-hour lunch is a thing of the past may have to eat their words.

It is an overcast Friday in Paris, and American Barbara Pasquet James of The French Side is at elegant Les Beauvilliers in Montmartre making last minute arrangements in French with chef Keppler. With her are two couples from California – a neurosurgeon and his wife and a couple of trial lawyers. Not their first time to Paris, the foursome, avowed foodies, have already had their appetites whetted by a visit to a nearby open-air market where Pasquet James has given them a crash course on not only what goes with what, but what is what, and why freshness, variety and purity of ingredients are tantamount to French cooking.

Their gastronomic lunch will continue on that theme for two more hours, as they have opted for “Getting the Most out of Your Dining Experience In France,” one of several “lunchtime seminars” offered by The French Side, Pasquet James’ unique concept where cultural training and gastronomy meet head on.

By the time dessert arrives, they will have learned everything from how to navigate their cutlery, handle French waiters (who, she explains, are not necessarily rude but simply doing what they’re trained to: to wait), and “eat French.” At the end of their multi-course meal they will not only have some great food under their belts, but a grasp of regional wines/specialties and a greater appreciation for the French arts of eating, drinking and conversation. If there’s time, they will be plied with the secrets of how the French manage to stay so slim (and live longer) despite a diet high in cream, animal fat and red meat.

Besides a gastronomy seminar, which can be paired with a visit to a local marché, Pasquet James dishes out other seminars, including “Seduction and The Art of The French Woman,” “Communicating Effectively With The French,” and “L’Art de Vivre.”

A travel/lifestyle writer and editor who hails from Washington, D.C. (herself French on her father’s side and married to a Frenchman), Pasquet James has lived in Europe since the early 80’s and has a background in university teaching. Since 1991, she has been training European executives and Americans visiting France, and likes to think of her presentations as “My Dinner With André, with attitude.”

“Learning this way was a natural for Paris,” she says. “The French are descendants of the Gauls, and there is nothing they enjoy more than spirited exchanges over wonderful food and drink.” She finds that people “love the individual attention” and most enjoy combining topics, adding, “Everyone goes away with an entirely new perception about France, the French, and food.”

Recent clients include a young L.A.P.D. officer with her boyfriend on their first trip to Paris, and last week she received an enquiry on behalf of a Saudi Prince.

“This is a high-end product that’s very affordable. It’s a nice complement – if not alternative – to private tours.”

Working with a small group of in-the-know Anglophones who specialize in fine dining and French culture, she also helps design tours for The popularity of their Da Vinci Code tour inspired her to offer a two-hour Da Vinci Code Discussion Workshop over High Tea at the Hotel Ritz, where character Robert Langdon was staying when he received his fateful phone call.

Besides restaurants, seminars can be held in bistros, brasseries, tea rooms or wine bars, and even a château can be arranged - in short, anywhere, literally, to suit individual tastes.

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