If You Could Invite Any Eight People – Living Or Dead – To Dinner, Who Would They Be? And What Is On The Menu?

If you could invite any eight people - living or dead - to a dinner, who would they be? And what is on the menu?

Whenever I’m put on the spot to choose my favorite song, book or movie, I get flustered and find it impossible to narrow my choice down. It’s much easier to select a group of people to dine with – a lot to do, I imagine, with the improved conditions in my comfort zone whenever wine and good food are on offer.

I stole the idea for this post from an interview I read on The Squiz recently, because I love these types of games – especially now, as time hurtles forward, and I can appreciate the wealth of interesting people that have made an impact on the portfolio of my life.

Admittedly, narrowing the guests down to eight wasn’t easy, mainly because of my insistence on getting the balance right – to ensure that my guests would play nicely together at my fictional dining table – but also because I had to exclude family and friends – for obvious reasons.

Interestingly, as I finalized my selection, I realized how imperative for me it was to mix up the age range of the group, and it also became very clear how much I am influenced by people that touch my life in some way now, in the present, in this new, exciting phase of middle age. It is also noteworthy that I am drawn to people that don’t take life too seriously.

So, here’s my guest list, in no particular order:

Caitlin Moran – Little or no explanation required if you read my blog. Awesome writer, feminist and “ladette,” with a similarly devilish humor to my own. For this lady, I’d have to screw table etiquette and seat her at my side.

Benjamin Law – Australian writer, swimmer, activist and the person I hold responsible for my addiction to Twitter and Instagram. A thinker and a doer, he makes me laugh out loud, think deeper thoughts, and vow to do better.

Barack Obama – The imposter in me (when it comes to politics), would be honored to sit at the feet of this great man at my table with the dog. Sage, humorous, a man that exudes love and trust and who has proven to be an invaluable asset for women’s rights and discrimination, I hope that he would bring Michelle along with him.

Mick Jagger – Mick is there for his raw energy, stories, talent, and unapologetic maleness. He is my “older man” fantasy. I need someone at my table to flirt with, someone who has extracted every ounce of living out of life, with the kind of stories that make everyone’s toes curl.

Russell Brand – More raw maleness – there seems to be a bit of a pattern here. I am full of admiration for the way this man has turned his troubled past around to embrace a more spiritual, altruistic path in the public eye. The way his “different” mind works intrigues me. He reminds me of Kurt.

Graham Norton – He appeals to the undiscovered columnist in me. Secretly, I lap up gossip and gratuitous material about the decadent, torrid lives of celebrities. I have always liked Graham. He has always remained true to himself in what can’t have been an easy start for his career, and I admire the way he has leveraged his innate talent – his charisma – into a profession.

Clementine Ford – I’m Clementine’s fan-girl. I devour everything she writes and I am often moved by the power of her convictions, her bravery, and her transparency. We share the loss of our mothers at a young age, and I admire how she has used that loss to empower herself. I admire how unafraid she is to demonstrate her struggles and the emotional sides to her personality as well as her more well-known public persona, her radical side – a range that stretches from staunch feminist and activist to vulnerable partner, mother, and fellow anxiety sufferer.

JK Rowling – I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only read parts of the Harry Potter series. Where the old man will only read books with dragons, I have never been able to get to grips with fantasy or sci-fi. NC read the series before she could walk, and Kurt wasn’t interested in them. But I’ve seen and read enough about this lady to know how much I would learn from her about self-belief, authenticity, writing, and humor.

And for my menu:

I’m will ignore the likelihood that there are more than a handful of vegetarians at my table. However, I would choose oysters for my starter as a nod to sustainability, a medium-rare tuna steak for the main – and creme caramel for dessert – a favorite since my childhood.

Tell me who I’ve missed?

What Did You Learn From Your Parents? I Learnt About Eating And Drinking Really Well

MY father taught me how to drink alcohol and eat fine food, really well.


My education started from the age of about seven, when he would take me out to our local Chinese restaurant on a Sunday, (because my parents were divorced), and we would indulge in the sport of Chinese Food Flicking. A prawn in the lap of the person on the opposite side of the table provided the lowest score; a perfectly-aimed grain of rice in the eye secured you the trophy.

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After a week in Hamilton Island, and five days in Sydney in the company of this great man, the temple that was once my body has been transformed into a bloated mass of toxins and excess lardy bits due to the un-heartsmart quantities of alcohol and fine food subjected to it.


I have a ‘buffet mentality’ when food and drink are seemingly ‘free’ (or someone else is paying for it)


I have no ‘stop’ or ‘full’ button. Rather like the hamster who stores its food in its cheeks, I have stored it all over my body during what has been a no-holds-barred binging session as my father indulged all my food and wine fantasies from one Sydney restaurant to the next.

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This food journey began with some memorable lunches and dinners on Hamilton Island and then recommenced more seriously in a six-course degustation menu, courtesy of Captain Cook Cruises in Sydney.


The good Captain teased our palates with lobster, duck gnocchi, fillet steak and seared tuna and that meal was followed the very next day by a fish frenzy at the local yacht club, where, genetically incapable of resisting King prawns, NC and I attacked a massive bucket of the critters with our fingers, like piranahs tearing at fresh meat. Then, not content with what Australian cuisine has to offer, our stomachs demanded an Asian infusion and so off we headed to Darling Harbour for another feast, of spiced delights this time, that included beef satay, chilli prawns and caramelized aubergine.


I could go on and on and taunt you with detailed descriptions and visual porn of the food fantasies my father helped me sate, but I know that would be cruel.

What Did You Learn From Your Parents?
Did I mention the desserts?


Suffice it to say, that the meagre food offerings I made for him, chez-moi (back at the block), in return for his generosity, (offerings the family has labelled as ‘bits and pieces’ or more commonly known as ‘what’s in the fridge’), were embarrassing by comparison.


I’m not sure if addiction to fine food and fine wine is a genetic issue, but it certainly seems to be the case in our family. 


I had thought that my father’s food indulgences were linked to his recent lifestyle change, dictated by his retirement, when he suddenly found himself in a more comfortable financial position and with more time on his hands and so could treat himself to lunch every day and a whisky or eight at night.


Since he left Sydney, my body feels bereft and empty, like that of a woman who has just given birth – accustomed as it was to 3000 calories per day. It still craves that glass or two of sparkling wine as an aperitif at lunchtime, and the perfectly chilled bottle of white wine in the evening that compliments Sydney Rock oysters just so well.


It was fun living the life of a wealthy foodie connoisseur for a couple of weeks, but my digestive system is threatening to strike and even my muffin top has raised the alarm. Obviously, weeks of denial, longing and imposed rehab loom ahead for me while I adjust back to the reality of my usual diet of ‘what’s left in the fridge’.


Meanwhile, my father has moved onto Dubai where he is no doubt converting the locals to the merits of alcohol as an accompaniment to every meal.