Which leads me to say ... what the hell?
Apparently the French government is fearing the country's highbrow food traditions have "alienated the average consumer." So, in an attempt to boost sales of wine and cheese -- France's most lucrative exports -- it is promoting a world-wide "aperitif" -- the moment before dinner when the French kick back with a glass of wine and finger food.
The French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, along with a bunch of French wine and cheese producers, is going to spend $2.1 million to sponsor cocktail parties in 19 countries across the world, including the United States. More than 14,000 Americans have already signed up to host a party, but only 1,000 lucky few will get chosen. Those chosen will receive coupons offering 15 percent discounts on certain French wines and a free gift when they order French cheeses on specific websites. They'll also get a hamper of French-themed party gear, including a CD featuring pop singer Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In return for the gifts, hosts must hold a party, take photos, and blog before and after, all in an effort to create a buzz about French wine and food. Afterward, they have to answer a questionnaire about how they like the products they tasted. French wine and cheese producers plan to follow up with a series of special promotions of French goods at local shops and supermarkets.
Actually, the more I think about this, the more brilliant this appears. Who doesn't want to get paid to throw a party? There's got to be a way to apply this to Wisconsin cheeses somehow ... anyone want to sponsor 1,000 Wisconsin wine and cheese parties during June Dairy Month?