As best as I can recall, this is the conversation that took place while eating the antipasto pictured here. The group was mainly Portuguese writers – who have lived in the US and in various European countries – and one American and one Italian.
RB – Did you catch Obama’s speech on health care last week?
JS – You mean his comments on American racial prejudice. That’s where the feeling was.
LS – The US still hasn’t mentally digested black people in its society, even though American blacks have obviously intermarried with whites over generations.
CM – American blacks have nothing to do with African blacks, who are really black. American blacks are so light.
RB – In Brazil, if you have a drop of white blood, you are considered white. In America, if you have a drop of black blood, you are black. It’s a matter of cultural perspective, but the mixtures usually work out best of all.
JS – Obama was right to call the cop’s actions “stupidity”. It is something he feels. Once he was stopped by a cop because he was driving a brand new car, and now, blindly racist people challenge whether he was actually born in the US. It is hard for some people to accept that a black belongs in the White House.
LS – He is smoothing it over with a beer with the cop and the professor at the White House. Bush could never have done something like that. He was too insecure. What’s in this pâté? It’s good. Can I have more wine, please?
RB – Sure. It’s quail pâté.
JM – Cable news is reacting to the racial incident – and that’s important – but health care is more pressing. Race relations in America are going in the right direction and health care is going wrong. When I had an operation to do while I was working in America, I went to Canada.
LS – And you would be better off having it almost anywhere in Europe. Soon health care will be globalized and we will be touting Indian heart surgery and Chinese blood work, and Slovenian eye corrections.
CM – I still want someone reliable around the corner, wherever I am.
RB – Obama will probably get some kind of health care reform, but he will get bloodied politically in doing it. That’s what I like about him as President. He is going after the big issues, even though they take their toll.
LB – I would like to see Berlusconi suffer from his actions, but I guess that means he would catch a sexually transmitted disease.
JM – Go easy on Berlusconi. We all need clowns. What is this dark stuff?
CM – Well, America has Palin. It’s a duxelles of pleurotes – chopped mushrooms sautéed with garlic, olive oil and butter.
JM – Mmmmm!
JS -- And fortunately America has Tina Fey to tell us all just what we’re seeing.
LM – But the French theater with Sarkozy and Carla Bruni is more complete. Do I put this green sauce on the cheese? What is it?
RB – Yeah, it is just minced oregano, marjoram and thyme, with garlic, salt and olive oil. Can you think how sad a figure Sarkozy would be without Carla Bruni? That woman makes the man.
LM – You see how persistent Italian women can be?
CM – And Michelle Obama, too. Women are becoming more important to political leaders, even when they come into the picture rather artificially, like Carla Bruni. An American President could never do what Sarkozy did.
LS – Well, no one can ever accuse [Portuguese Prime Minister] Socrates of increasing his popularity with a woman companion.
CM – Maybe it’s time to move in for dinner.