Wednesday, August 08, 2012

lightening up

I don't know about you, but I could use a lighter tone today. My heart has been pretty heavy the last several days and something a bit more carefree feels in order.

I went back to the blog with the list of 30 ideas for conversation (or blog posts), and they are really more serious than I want to be for this post. Except maybe one: If you could have dinner with anyone in history who would it be, and what would you serve?

This used to be a regular question as part of the celebrity interview on the last page of each issue of Bon Appetit magazine. Consequently, I am prepared for this question. 

I have two answers. I have the one I came up with all those years ago courtesy of Bon Appetit, and another one because I am reconsidering my original, long-held answer, courtesy of Bon Appetit.

The first answer is Henry VIII. Bet you didn't expect that! I got quite fascinated with Henry and the saga of his many wives ages ago when Masterpiece Theater aired a series called, oddly enough, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. I was 13. This was also the era when I became absolutely infatuated with Franco Zeffirelli's production of Romeo and Juliet, and I memorized essentially the entire play by listening to the recording of the movie over and over and over again. (This is one reason I so readily recall the prince's exhorting speech at the end that I have quoted a few times on the blog. It contains the phrase, "all are punish-ed!" I can still hear the precise delivery of that line in my head). Was it the costumes?

But I digress. Henry. As a result of the aforementioned exposure to this Tudor king I bought and read the novel The Autobiography of Henry VIII when it came out in 1998.  The novel treats Henry somewhat sympathetically compared to most historical perspectives, and  I became convinced by the novel that Henry got a very bad wrap from history. He had a brilliant theological mind and a complete and total devotion to England.  These two realities in his life are what drove his decisions, no matter how we might evaluate them. I came to appreciate the specific challenges he faced as a monarch, and how his theological training and beliefs came to bear as he tried to make decisions that would result in the best service to his country. Seeing Henry in this light, the opportunity to dine with him and talk about the issues intrigue me. 

Today, however, I see this a little differently. I still view Henry much more sympathetically than most, but I suspect that I would find him much more closed-minded than I give him credit for being, and that might not bode so well for an evening of lively exchanges. Then again, he was an outstanding athlete, poet, musician and charmer, so perhaps the original renaissance man might make a fabulous dinner companion. As to what I would serve him: I have no idea. Think he'd like pizza with pepperoni and onions?

My second choice is my great-grandmother, my mother's mother's mother, Sudie. By all accounts she was an extraordinary woman. Her faith was deep and sustaining, her mind astute and quick, and her devotion to her family and others whose lives were intertwined with her own was unyielding. I realize that this could describe many women of her era (1869-1938). Something I learned about her not long ago, however, puts a little flesh on those general bones: asked what she would have liked to do with her life had she not married, she answered that she would have enjoyed being a landscape architect. How cool! She also had a brilliant mathematical mind. And her daughters thought she was perfect. (No joke!) There are an assortment of other things I've been told about her, but sharing all of that would result in a full chapter. And that from never having met her!

Sudie's dinner is a little easier to imagine: fresh produce from the garden for a salad and from which to make soup (I'm thinking tomato basil); a goat cheese and kalamata olive tart with sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar; rotisserie chicken marinated with a shallot, mustard and herb vinaigrette; mushroom risotto (and I don't even like mushrooms); and for dessert, fresh South Carolina peaches drizzled with a champagne-raspberry reduction. Dang, now I'm hungry!

So there you have it. Who would you invite to dinner? And what would you serve?


The Bug said...

My greatnanny was a hoot (my dad's dad's mom). She was under 5 feet tall & at one time in her life sold Mary Kay. But by the time I knew her she was quite elderly, so I'd love to have spent time with her in her younger days. We would probably eat Sunday pot roast & green beans & home-made rolls.

As to who else I would choose, hmmm... I have no idea! I'll have to think about that...

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm a Tudor fan as well...but as much as I admire Henry VIII and believe as you say that he was truly a smart man who had England first in his mind and heart with every decision, I don't think I would want to eat with him :p I'd rather eat with Anne Boleyn :) I believe from all I've read, that she, too, has been misrepresented in history. She was a pawn just as much as Henry VIII himself. I actually believe they were probably each other's true loves but, of course, that didn't matter. If I dined with Anne, I would want our meal to be as fresh and simple as her meals were...with a glass or two of wine with which we could continue our conversation in front of a roaring fire. :)

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