As usual, this was not the blog that I set out to write… but my muse does like to play fast and loose with me and take me places I wasn’t expecting to go..
One of the bonuses of being a cook, is gathering people together, placing the food before them and sitting back and just watching, as the sharing of a meal, gives people time to connect and reconnect. And I’m often asked which famous foodie people I’d like to cook for, and I always give the same answer – “None! I’d get stage fright, and it would be a disaster!”. Lol.
But I do often give thought to who I would like to share a meal with, and invariably the guest list includes people who are not only foodies, but wordsmiths too. For what is a meal, without interesting conversations on the side. I would just have to hope, that my usual tongue tiedness around well-known people, wouldn’t strike, and I could hold up my half of the conversation.
Leading the “People I’d like to share a table with”, would have to be the late great Tony Bourdain. I loved living my foodie dreams of travel and exploration, vicariously, through his shows. I loved his irreverence, and his understanding that good meals are more about who are in the chairs, rather than what is on the table. I would’ve have loved to have had him at my table, breaking bread and having a couple of Polish vodka’s – not his tipple, but certainly part of my heritage.
I would also love to share a meal with Nigella. It is her love of words, that has been the secret of success. I enjoy reading her recipe books, as much for the language as for the food. And we certainly seem to share the same food philosophy. It also helps that she had the same horrified reaction to the question of who you would like to cook for.. lol
And to have spent time across a table from Rik Mayall and Robin Williams would have been sublime. Their rhythm and timing, especially when I saw them in interviews, showed the people beneath the comedy. And I do love a bit of speed in the repartee..
There are some friends that I have connected with over Social media, that I have never met in person, that I would be intrigued to share my table with. We seem to have life experiences and philosophies in common, tho… some of them have dubious food likes, so the actual meal might be a compromise… But they are witty, and funny and compassionate – and that is the fabulous upside of Social Media, making new relationships.
But really, the person I would so love to share a meal with is Bruce, my Dad. Taken way too soon, it is one of my few regrets in life, that he never met his grandchildren. Or, to be honest, really meet me as a functioning adult. While not a foodie, he preferred to eat in, rather than go out; it is his words I miss. One of the last “Gentlemen”, he was gentle by nature. Quietly getting on with life. He never learned to wear his emotions, until his final year, but I felt his compassion, and saw how injustices in life realty touched him,,
There is always that argument about nurture over nature, and I can honestly say, that the “Word thing”, as we like to call it, is surely genetic in this family. My 3 kids, all show it differently – from the one with the MASSIVE vocabulary, to the one who has taken his grandfather’s mantle for public speaking; to the one who’s imagination can run wild… And when all the cousins arrive, I love to see Bruce hovering, smiling at the word games and wit.
I am often torn, thinking he would’ve loved the new technology that we all take for granted – the internet and its infinite source of knowledge – all accessed from your ph, would have blown his mind. But the meanness and vitriol that is the daily diet of the internet would’ve really distressed him. But I would like to be able to talk out some things that trouble me too.
It goes without saying that I miss him. He was by no means perfect, he struggled with my youthful desire to listen to modern music, and he was old fashioned – definitely not cool when you’re a snotty teen-ager I like to think he would be amused that I now push old fashioned values of politeness and consideration on my kids. And in recent years, it would have been fabulous, to have his common sense on hand when things got complicated.
In his latter years, he was generous with his time. He, of course, belonged to Toast Masters – a public speaking community, but he was also involved in Defensive driving, and when learning that a whole section of society were consistently being penalised for driving without licences – because they did not have the literary skills to get a licence – he became part of a movement to teach these people the skills to pass their licence and drive legally. Seems such a logical thing to me. And I remember how sad he was, meeting people who were socially deprived, that they’re experience of life was so different to his.
While not a Foodie, he did like to emcee a gathering. Leading the speeches, and the toasts. Filling glasses, “holding forth” as Mum likes to say; he certainly enjoyed the social aspect of a meal. One our family toasts, a Polish one, now lives on in all our gatherings, and actually those of our friends too now, and it seems he lives on in all of us..
So to the first Wordsmith I knew, to the gentleman who set the bar that I measure all men against; to the man I see echoed in the next generation. It would be just awesome to have you at one last meal with all of us….
Bruce. “To The ladies, for the first time”.
Miss you, “Pops” 😉