March, 2019: The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

(Book #107) Mary hosted this meeting and there wasn’t a dud avocado to be found. The food and conversation were great! What follows is the later-that-evening email:

Opening night of The Dud Avocado found us celebrating at the Contessa’s. Upon entering the Contessa’s great hallway, the guests noticed a shopping cart identifiably stolen from a nearby store. Someone commented that the Contessa has a reputation for taking what she wants. We walked into the kitchen/dining room where two guests had already seated themselves nearest the avocado-themed appetizers of salmon and avocado on biscuits ronds; avocado and tomato sur concombre; and guacamole with chips. There was a variety of wine from which to choose — a delicious rosé was the first to be uncorked.

Seven guests joined the Contessa at table though the names were a bit of jumble; there was a Goldie Fairy and her dog, Dolly originally from Dodge City in America; Shirley Maclaine from Valentine, Nebraska; and then there was a Terry, a Gertrude, an Anita, a Vallely (don’t call her Val!) and a nasty librarian whose name I didn’t catch. All expressed an interest in Savannah Grace’s appearance but she isn’t due to arrive in Paris for another 8 weeks.

The first course was served, a delicious mixed greens salad with golden beets, asparagus and cheese. The main course was a truly remarkable classic French cassoulet served with French bread et beurre. Dessert was un clafoutis aux bleuets, mais si à proprement parler si elle est faite avec des fruits autres que les cerises, on l’appelle flaugnarde. All was beautifully made and served.

Conversation around the table was lively: some felt l’auteur wrote very cleverly and used language well but didn’t have as much skill with working through the arc of the story. The last very romantic bit seemed to come from nowhere. Others felt this was too harsh a criticism and that the story worked well. One obnoxious guest had to read aloud from the script and chose as her favorite quote one that defines the Organized Sophisticate type of Tourist according to Larry: “(She) Finds the hairdresser who speaks English, the restaurant who knows how she likes her steak, and the first foreign word she makes absolutely sure of pronouncing correctly is the one for drugstore. After that she’s all set and the world is her ash tray.”

It was a lovely evening, with delicious food, crazy crossed conversations and strangely, a stolen shopping cart. C’est la vie!

Next month we thought we might cross the channel to Suffolk,England, where ‘Crazy Eyes’ Melissa will host us on Tuesday, April 23 to discuss I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

a bientôt,

(Unfortunately, for the purposes of this website, there are too many references in the summary above that don’t make sense unless you were there. The names of the guests all come from quirky conversations during dinner about the wilder women we have known, though the last, Savannah Grace, will be the name of the baby that makes one of our members a grandmother! All the French in the desert description is just explanation that because Mary used blueberries instead of cherries, it is more properly called a flaugnarde rather than clafoutis. The bit about the shopping cart — Mary walks or takes public transportation, so when she realized that she’d purchased more than she could carry, she “borrowed” a shopping cart and of course she took it back the very next day! The signature Terry is not me trying to imitate my sister-in-law, but comes from our conversation about the way people will call you by a diminutive form of your name no matter what. Once when being stopped for a moving violation, I gave the officer my license which is clearly emblazoned with my name Teresa. He wrote the ticket, handed it to me and said “Have a nice day, Terry.” As though that were possible.)

All were in agreement that Elaine Dundy was a very clever writer and has a way of almost sneaking the funniest bits right past you. Though not all agreed it was a great story, we were unanimous in our appreciation of her style.