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.


  1. Celeste,
    Lovely entry. Do your table settings always look so nice? LOL..I'll have to pay more attention to my own..
    Interesting conversation. Five of my grandkids are biracial. Sometimes they refer to themselves as black. I think they should acknowledge all of their heritage by referring to themselves as biracial..white and black. I don't think either race has to be or should be omitted.
    Just my opinion:)
    Hope your week is going well,

  2. Fantastic post Celeste. I love that all the world leaders seemed to be equal opportunity targets over the antipasto. Next time you must tell us what was said over dinner. :-)

  3. I too have black grandchildren, they tell me they have experienced racial discrimination here too.
    Your table is just the sort of table I like and, sometimes, have: good food, excellent wine and people who can have a real conversation, not just small talk and gossip. Unfortunately, small talk and gossip are the main ingredients at many other tables we visit.

  4. Good food is perfect for interesting conversations, isn't it?
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leading me here.

  5. Oh wow. Good food, good company and good conversation! It makes me miss my friends and want to go home!

  6. Beautiful table!

    I was so interested in this post. Race vs. Health Care - Wow! Interesting that the one thought the alleged racial incident brought up (not accidentally, I'm sure) by the final reporter was the center of it all. Sad. And that the stupid birth certificate rumor was also of primary interest. I never even heard of that one until last night when Jon Stewart brought it up and poked fun at it. But then, I do know that when you mention the U.S. in Europe, there are many people who want to know if you're talking about NY or LA - as if those are the only two cities here. So sad that cable news is what is heard over there. I never listen to it myself. I listen to Public TV or Radio, so I get facts instead of the more slanted version.

    Love the image of Palin as a clown.

    By the way, my great-grandmother was black. I guess that makes me black too - or would in the eyes of some people. That's fine with me. We also have some of the younger generation in mixed marriages.

  7. Sounds like very interesting company and great conversation. I love the flowers!

  8. Interesting discussion. Our PM is spending money like a mad man and sending us broke.His latest is to spend a heap of money on health care and then charge us even more for it when the loss of jobs etc is sky rocketing.
    He loves the sound of his own voice but no practicality. Politicians!

  9. Pate' and Antipasto are so good, but the conversation really made the time together entertaining. Now if people could just accept that Obama can get some things done that have long been ignored and let him do his job! I wish we could ship all the Sarah Palins and other negative people to an island and let them fight it out together.

  10. That sounds like a very fun dinner party – the food and the conversation. They do have a problem here about their racial profiling – and they sometimes don’t even realize it. When I was flying back from Senegal years ago I read in the magazine Jeune Afrique that a young “Asian” golfer was winning at the Masters’ in Augusta, Ga. So when I got home I asked my husband if the young Asian had won. He does not watch golf so we turned on the TV and we could not see any Asian golfer but they were calling the winning golfer “African American” his name was Tiger Wood. When he won the African-American community here was overjoyed, but the Asian community got very mad because they said his mother is Thai and his father was part Chinese, American Indian and black, so he was more Asian (like Jeune Afrique thought). Tiger himself said that he was multi-racial and angered the African American community. It will take a very long time here for people who are not white Anglo-Saxon to feel welcome everywhere. During the Iraq war I had a small French flag on my car. My car was “keyed”. Another time someone forced me off the road and another time drove into my lane and almost made me have an accident. After I received many hateful emails I took the French flag off and placed a European one on my car (because my husband asked me). It’s very sad.

  11. Celeste you just took a lot of the weariness away but you left me very hungry. I love the conversation. You are the best!! I am so glad you found me. I would not care if you were white, black, green, or purple, I consider you my friend. Thank you.

  12. I love visiting you, feeling like I'm in a western coutry while sipping coffee, gossiping and dipping in the cheese looked so yummY :) Beautiful table setting as in a magazine.

  13. Interesting conversation and the spread on the table looks real good ; )

    I grew up in a mixed neighborhood in SF back in the day and remember reading the story in the newspaper about the guy who wrote the book Black Like Me and asked many questions then. Didn't understand then and still don't now, why people see others from around the world as different than us.

    Sad really, after all these years ; (

    Caught up with you other Portugal posts, lovely, just lovely, the views, the food ; )

  14. Hola querida suegra, veo que tu blog crece con rapidez, está precioso y las fotos son fantásticas, espero que tengamos una mesa tan bonita preparada para todos, besos y nos vemos el sábado!!!!

  15. Celeste, how beautiful you make this world! you connect people on your table as well as online!

    &, interesting how many biracial couples we know and to see how many there are here in your circle.

    The move towards unity and harmony is slow with many backwards steps, but keep the vision towards it, and our community of world-as-one will grow...

  16. Interesting food and interesting conversation, perfect combination.

  17. Wonderful conversation and delicious looking food. What better way to spend an evening with friends. The Palin comment made me laugh. Very perceptive.

  18. [M]minced oregano, marjoram and thyme, with garlic, salt and olive oil." Sounds like a pesto to me! And delicious, too.

    "The woman makes the man."

    You obviously have extraordinarily intelligent and observant friends.

  19. Celeste,
    This was indeed a great antipasto gathering, on your beautiful terrace, and splendid interaction. There will always be a large portion of people who are prejudiced: out of habit, lack of education, ignorance, envy, fear.
    And there will always be a large portion of people who are open and aware and value people and places for who and what they are, for whom prejudice is impossible.
    It is obvious you attract the latter into your life! And to this wonderful blog!
    And your food combinations are always beautiful and immensely appealing to the eyes, the mind and the stomach!!!
    Thank you!
    May beauty and diversity always be within you and around you!

  20. The table spread looks divine! I'm afraid if I was part of that gathering I wouldn't be saying a great deal because my mouth would be full of food most of the time ;) Interesting conversation! Perhaps you'll follow this up with the dinner converstion post. Brilliant!

  21. Hi Celeste,
    I so enjoyed the course of this conversation, first ladies, Berlusconi as the eternel clown and a touch of delicious pleurotes !

    about prejudice, unfortunately we live with it and it's not so easy to fight against it. But I truly believe, by talking we can understand each other and perhaps change things a bit...even a tiny bit
    Have a great day in your beautiful Portugal!

  22. Celeste,

    I have been catching up on your blog this morning. What gorgeous pictures you share. I feel like I am traveling the world through you. I enjoy the pictures you take of food as much as the beautiful views and sites. Reading this post, I felt like I was right there in the room with you, taking it all in. You are gifted with creativity in many areas, that is for sure! Just wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed your blog this morning.
    Your friend in Tennessee,

  23. I think people are so funny, no matter where we live. Isn't it amazing that everyone mixes politics and food without indigestion? Something I can never do.

    You could send my stuff to my email on my blog and just do it as an attachment. Is that what you need?

  24. I just did the blog tour. Is that your painting up there? Holy cow, you're brilliant! You take really good photos too, I especially love the ones of the theatre festival.

    And did you recall this conversation from memory? I would really love to be able to do that. But what an entertaining and witty conversation.

    Thank you for leading me here. I will be back often!

  25. That was fun to read. Isn't it too bad that people see color even in 2009. What a sad commentary on the human species.
    Enjoyed a whole bunch.

  26. Now that has to be one of my favourite blog posts of all time. To share the delights of good food and sparkling conversation with you and your guests was virtual perfection. Thank you. I very much look forward to more like this one.

    I was born and raised in South African during the abominable Apartheid regime where the matter of race was a vicious knife twist in an already suppurating wound.

  27. Good post CM. How on earth did you remember all the conversation?

  28. Wonderful blog. You are invited to follow my blog. Thank you

  29. hugs Celeste!
    thank you so much for this entry! It is inspiring!
    Your writing and your pictures too!
    Please come back and visit me!