by Paige Donner
Paris is catching on to a wildly popular UK dining custom called “Secret Dinners.” In certain parts of the U.S., such as L.A. and NYC, they are popular, too. Essentially, they are moveable feasts where the people, the food and, most importantly, the locales are never the same.
Parisian foodies will nod and smile and confess that they have no idea why the Secret Dinner trend hasn’t quite taken hold in their city. It might be partly because when you do a search on the internet under Paris Secret Dinners this huge article of a catacomb tribe who held seances (not really, much tamer than that, but it’s fun to spread these blasphemous rumors, isn’t it!?) in the secret tunnels below the Trocadero surfaces.
In Paris there are a few who are carrying on the UK tradition of Secret Dinners and Secret Lunches. One goes by the name New Friends Table and another by the name Miss Lunch. Neither wanted their photos published or even too much written about them, given that it’s all, well, you know, Secret!
The concept is a good one for travelers or transplants to a new city. Anyone can eat out at a restaurant, but how often do you get the chance to be invited to someone’s home where you can share a meal, meet other people, talk to locals, and generally get an authentic glimpse into how people live in a given city. Well, you might, if you have an old college roommate or a cousin living in a foreign city, but if you’re off for a romantic weekend or on business overseas for a week, you likely won’t get that opportunity.
As a single woman, it provoked some thought to agree to attend a Secret Dinner where an address isn’t provided until a few hours before the start time and where you must swear to secrecy about the identity of the people putting on the dinner.
So when a Secret Picnic was alternately proposed, I felt confident that this was the better choice. Sunshine and spring weather on a Saturday afternoon in a Paris park is paradise on Earth. Add to that a picnic basket filled with some of the best delights Paris has to offer, in the form of cheeses, bread, wine, olives, chocolate, traiteur salads and cold dishes, and a couple of outrageously decadent desserts all delicately spread out on a colorful flower tablecloth on the grass and you’ve got yourself a Picnic a la gourmand…secret or not.
Sightseeing is tiring. And while shopping for cheese and wine can be fun, you might not know where to get the best stuff when you’re in Paris for 72 hours. It’s also time consuming to make the pilgrimages to the various arrondissements to gather the truly famous goods.
You have the option of either joining in on a Secret Picnic already planned or you can order your private picnic for two, as you desire. Now you’ll just have to try to figure out who the Secret Picnic people are. Good LUCK! Hint: they are not in the catacombs under the Trocadero.