Pizza and a Movie: Best of Enemies

This weekend’s Pizza Toppings at Corner Pizza:

  • Arugula
  • Ham
  • Sliced Tomatoes

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Best of Enemies

This was kind of like a ham and tomato and arugula sandwich, on a pizza – except that it was light on the ham, which was fine. My husband chose all the toppings, and they suited me. He also chose the film, which didn’t completely suit me.

I didn’t dislike it – I found it enlightening, witty, and entertaining. Later, I asked him if he thought people ate arugula back in 1968 (the year the events in the film, a documentary, took place).

“I’m sure they had it, but it probably wasn’t on anyone’s table in America,” he said.

We were children during the 1960s, and as the oldest of nine kids*, when his mother served a “salad” at dinner, it was sliced iceberg lettuce (only), with homemade “French” dressing (ketchup mixed with water, or, if mixed with mayonnaise, “Thousand Island”).

Salads at my house were a close cousin: either torn iceberg lettuce, or green leaf lettuce I was assigned to pick from our garden. Our dressing was oil and vinegar – I remember thinking you had to eat at a restaurant to have other options.

We did have tomatoes in our salads, if we had some in the garden. My dad used to pick them early and put them on a window sill to ripen. Other garden ingredients I recall are green onions and radishes.**

As for ham, I like it well enough, but my husband isn’t too fond of it, so I was surprised he chose it as a pizza topping. But I know, over time, he wants to order every conceivable topping combination (see PIZZA AND A MOVIE tab above), so I assumed that had something to do with it.

Back to the movie. If you like politics, culture, and (especially), debates, you should see it. The footage from 1968 alone was great, and I found myself marveling that it happened the year Nixon was elected, and just a few short years before he resigned and the Viet Nam war ended. Watching the two “enemies,” William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal, go at each other was amazing; there were more than a few unexpected and unscripted moments.

And I bet each of them grew up in homes where arugula was served, occasionally.

* For more about my husband’s large family, read my latest book ALL THE ABOVE. Several people in the family (including his mother) appear in it.

** What ingredients were in your salads when you were growing up?


Dinner parties, fêtes, et la politique

In my novel MAKE THAT DEUX, Jenny and her friends — like most other college students —  go to a lot of  fêtes (parties), and to at least one French picnic. But they don’t go to any dinner parties.

And they hardly ever discuss politics — or the events going on in the world  — during their year en France.

For the French,plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” is a favorite reference to politics. For Americans, it’s often one, and I think it applies to last week’s election very well, no matter what your feeling about the result.

J’aime bien les fêtes et les dîners, and so do the French. My  husband and I have hosted (and attended) quite a few of both during our years together. And, comme tout le monde, normalement we politely avoid the subjects of politics and religion.

But we’re also members of a dinner-party group in which those topics, though not our primary discussion, are not exactly taboo.

Our friends’ table before a recent dinner party

We four couples meet for dinner three or four times a year, and we’ve been doing it for over a decade. In the American fashion, we each bring a course to share and some wine; the host couple provides the entree. We’re all about the same age and have been together for about as long, and — I guess because we know each other so well — we feel comfortable bringing up our differences, and discussing our ideas.

We begin with cocktails around 7:30, and almost always stay at the table long after dessert, til the wee hours of the morning. We talk about typical dinner-party subjects, like movies, books and sports, but almost inevitably, current events come up, and that leads to politics….and to differing opinions. And sometimes, bets are made on the outcome of elections.

But we always end the evening as friends who respect each other, and each other’s different views. Last summer, when my husband and I visited Versailles,* I found myself thinking about 18th century French nobility, and how they handled their differences, when I took this photo in the King’s apartments:

Back to our own group. Besides discussing politics, we catch up on each other’s lives and families, we eat good food and we share a lot of laughter. Over the years, we’ve had so many memorable evenings, that I wish I’d recorded what happened.

Because truth is stranger than fiction.

Our next evening together probably won’t occur until 2013. However, next month, we will invite these friends and many others to our annual Christmas fête.* At the party, politics never rarely comes up in conversation. People typically chat about the holidays, their families and their recent activities, and share funny stories.

 Our table at last year’s gathering

In MAKE THAT DEUX, Jenny is away from home for Noel. I won’t say if she goes to any parties, but she has a memorable Christmas in the Alps.

Avec les émotions et les amis, et sans la politique!  

*more on Versailles — and Noel — in upcoming posts…

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