My curious female friend asked me the other day, “If I could invite five French men (from any era) to dinner, who would they be?” I really had to think hard. There were so many to choose from. I had to base my decisions on some very important criteria.
I wouldn’t invite anyone who would not appreciate my cooking nor did I want someone who would dominate the conversation across the dinner table. It was then that the delightful Marcel Marceau sprang to mind who I knew would be duly appreciative, behave himself impeccably, sit non prejudicial of other guests, remain a decorative chap in harmony with his surroundings. What you see is what you get with Marceau as the sublime French mime artist. He’d wear a broad red grin when happy, frown when sad, be an undeniably good listener not to mention very hygienic wearing his trademark white gloves so he could help with the dishes.
Then I gave a thought to sitting at the table with Francois Hollande, France’s current Prime Minister. Without his wife of course. Though his powers of seduction may intrigue, I doubt he would stay long in the company of predominately male guests and he would consequently be preoccupied with affairs on his mobile to be of any real interest. Well, perhaps he can stay for a while and talk Socialism and equality for women but let’s not mention marriage and film stars in the one sentence.
Now let me think …Perhaps Johnnie Depp would be by next guest and yes I know he’s not officially a Frenchman, he does act like one and has a house outside the little French village of Plan de la Tour with its little French vineyard. Besides, he was very nice on our first encounter, stopping at the roadside crossing for me in Saint Paul de Vence, remember (https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/awaken-to-saint-paul-de-vence-france/)
According to People’s Magazine, Depp has been voted the “Sexiest Man Alive” so naturally he’d be instantly forgiven if he arrives a little disheveled. I know he’d appreciate good wine and my chocolate for sure, though I read his taken to devouring scorpions which are currently not on my menu. I’m certain though a tad shy and hibernating, Johnnie would no doubt feel freer as the night went on and conversations of a bohemian life and his music would be easy listening especially with a guitar at hand. He’d do party tricks and make his tattoos dance and trying to focus on them after much wine appreciation would make for a jolly evening. Yes, Johnnie’s good value at dinner. Let’s not put him too close to Marcel though as I believe he has a fear of clowns.
My fourth guest has to be Napoleon. Now given he’d have a strong competitive streak and so the wine that Johnnie brings would be depleted in no time but he has been known for Plan B assertiveness and will no doubt have his hip flask of favourite cognac inside his top coat. Some people don’t realise that’s why he’s given to losing one arm underneath. Napoleon will relish my beef bourguignon (my recipe can be yours at: https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/awakening-to-french-recipes/
And it’s a loyal act when Napoleon would tackle any man to the floor who doesn’t eat. Dear Napoleon with his feisty thirst for adventure and beautiful spirit may add be a touch of rivalry among the ranks but he’d have a lot in common with Francois Hollande and I’m certain that Deppe could lull him with a song or Marcel would place an invisible box over him if that fails. One can’t deny Napoleon would make great conversation with sordid tales of war and frenzy, socialism and political dramas in his redefining France. He does well generally under pressure, though I think I stand for the whole party when I say that I hope he doesn’t bring up the whole, boring “construction of roads through France”contribution but mention the part he played in his renewal of the Catholic Church in France instead. That could certainly encourage debate.
Lastly, it would be a toss between Jacques Cousteau, the Marine Conservationist with the lovely tan, (who on second thoughts, wouldn’t enjoy my St Jacques scallops nor appreciate sucking claw meat from our deep sea lobster as much as the others) and either the existentialist thinker Jean Paul Sartre or maybe Voltaire the poet and philosopher would come instead.
I have an overriding sense that if Jean Paul will not acknowledge he’s actually present at the table it leaves me with no other choice but to invite Voltaire. After all, Voltaire with his ill health needs a good feed and wouldn’t waste any morsel of food. Besides, he also understands spirited liaisons (just ask Emilie du Chalelet) and with his sharp wit and hilarious verses, we’d all be enlightened by his truthfulness and candour. He’s sure to remind us at the table that, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung”.
So there you have it- my list of five for dinner. Have I left anyone out? Who would you invite?