Yesterday, my husband Paul, my friend Angie, and I attended Eau Claire’s third annual Diner en Blanc. The tradition of the Diner originated in France but quickly spread around the world. It’s a strange hybrid between a flash mob and a picnic. All the guests dress in white and bring picnics, complete with their own tables and table settings (all white, of course), and meet at a location that’s only disclosed immediately before the event. Everyone lines up their tables, sits down, and enjoys their meal. Then, they pack up and (at least in theory) leave the site looking as if they were never there.
Organized by French ex-patriot Anne-Marie Bittner, better known as Nanou, our event represented a significant step toward making Eau Claire’s Diner en Blanc worthy of the one in Paris. Despite a major rainfall the day before, the evening was clear and sunny, not too hot and not too cool, and the river flowed tranquilly by us as we ate.
As enjoyable as the company was, a major part of the fun was studying the passers-by studying us as they tried to determine whether we were members of a wedding party or members of a cult. A few brave souls dared ask a diner, but most quickly averted their eyes and scuttled on their way–clearly, they’d concluded “Cult.”
Darkness fell, but miniature torches illuminated the last diners as they reluctantly began to disperse. All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend our evening. Plus, for the first time in my life, I wore a white shirt without staining it. Progress is being made on all fronts.