Talk about “food for thought”. Last Friday’s WordPress Daily Prompt sure got my imagination going: “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. The world is ending tomorrow! Tell us about your last dinner — the food, your dining companions, the setting, the conversation.”
Lots and lots of possibilities. I’m overwhelmed with choices. Where to start, where to start.
I think, first, I have to decide where this dinner should take place. I know one thing. Wherever it is, we have to be comfortable. I love dinners that are slow and leisurely. So comfy chairs are an absolute must. Big enough to have room to move around in. Good support for your back. And soft enough to cushion you. We will be sitting there for quite a while.
Because I tend to be somewhat claustrophobic, I also like big dinner tables with a lot of room between guests. I hate feeling cramped and squashed.
Lighting is also important. Personally I love lots and lots of candles. I don’t mind additional soft lighting as well, but nothing bright and harsh. Music, if there is any at all, should be low enough so it doesn’t get in the way of the conversation.
So where? I still haven’t answered that question.
You all know how much I love books, so a room lined with bookshelves would be kind of nice, don’t you think? Guests could wander around, pick out a book or two, read from it or just discuss it. Would be interesting to see who picked which books and why.
Perhaps this ‘room’ could be transported to the desert; and we could be in a huge, opulent tent, with oriental carpets and huge pillows strewn all over the floor. Hanging from the centre could be a spectacular crystal chandelier (on a dimmer, of course) and the only other lighting would come from candles and lanterns.
The walkway to the tent would be lit with tall torches on either side. Between courses we could go outside and admire the sunset, and the brilliance of the stars and the moon. Nature’s chandelier. Huge silk pillows would be placed on the sand, just tossed here and there, in case the urge to lounge came upon us. Imagine how clear and beautiful the sky would be in the middle of nowhere.
Yes, that is definitely the setting for my dinner party.
Now for the fun part. Who would I most like to have dinner with?
My first inclination is to invite everyone I’ve ever wanted to meet. It’s a pretty big list. But I’m going to resist that particular temptation and keep it to a nice, small, intimate group. Much more conducive to good, meaningful conversation.
Maya Angelou, for sure. I have read every book she has ever written, including her children’s books. Not just once, but dozens of times. I love her style of writing, I love what she has to say and she has lived one hell of a life. I think she’d be a fascinating table mate. Let’s add the Dalai Lama to the list. I actually went to one of his teachings when I was in India. Pure serendipity.
When we arrived at our hotel in Varanasi our rooms weren’t yet ready. As we were enjoying tea in the lobby, we saw dozens of Tibetan monks wandering around. We asked our travel agent what was going on. She disappeared, briefly, and when she came back she told us the Dalai Lama was doing a teaching the next day in Sarnath, a nearby town. And, she had managed to secure passes for us. Unfortunately we couldn’t have a private audience with him because there was not enough time for the necessary security checks, but we did get to go. It would be beyond fabulous to have a chance to actually talk with him.
To be honest, I’d be perfectly satisfied if I could spend one-on-one time with both Maya Angelou and the Dalai Lama. But for the sake of this story, let me see if there’s anyone else I’d invite.
How do you feel about including Bill Maher? I love him and I think it would be great to have a shit disturber at the table. Not entirely sure about him and the Dalai Lama, but it would sure make for some interesting watching and listening. One more person, I think. I like odd numbers and five (including me) is as good a number as any.
Bill Clinton is my final choice. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like him. He’s smart, charming and interesting and I think he’d be a great buffer for all the others at the table. And he’s a great raconteur.
Okay, I’m breaking my rule. I’m going to invite two more people, but that’s it! Positively no one else.
First, Walter Isaacson, whose written biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger. Now the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, he is the past Chairman and CEO of CNN and the former Managing Editor of Time. Really like him.
And, last but not least, David Kelley, the founder of IDEO. For those of you unfamiliar with them, IDEO is a California-based, design firm and innovation consultancy and, essentially, they help both public and private sector organizations innovate and grow. I am an avid fan of their thinking and their work. Honestly, I would pay them to give me a job. So there’s nothing I’d like better than a chance to chat.
Frankly, with a group like this I think the food is supremely unimportant. But if you absolutely must know …
Obviously the Dalai Lama is a vegetarian, so meat should be off the menu, don’t you think? Actually, Bill Clinton is now a vegan, so healthy food it is. Vegetable biryanis … aromatic Moroccan tagines made with sweet potatoes, lentils, chickpeas, apricots, couscous and lots of harissa for some kick … noodles of every description … velvety soups … rich vegetable stews. And fish and seafood, for those who crave a different kind of protein.
Wine, of course. Both red and white. Fresh juices made with tangerines or pomegranates or lychees or blood oranges, for those who don’t imbibe. And pitchers of water, delicately flavoured with slices of lemon and lime or sweet berries.
Yoghurt, honey and chopped pistachios for dessert, with platters of both fresh and dried fruit. Simple and good.
All right, twist my arm. Maybe some petit fours-sized morsels of puff pastry, honey, nuts and maybe a little rose water. You know, baklava. The kind that just melts the instant it hits your tongue.
Turkish coffee, ginger tea, green tea; and some well-aged Port.
Ahhh … lovely, don’t you think? So who was the first to break the ice? Who got the conversation started?
Here’s where I get to turn the tables (no pun intended), and ask you. Who do you think it was? And then where’d we go from there?