The other day, I was telling one of my theater friends about the "French Theater Dinner Party" that my host family and I threw when I was an exchange student in Paris. (See my previous post, Un dîner théâtral, for information on the party and the thematically appropriate dishes on the menu.)
"Now you've got me wondering--what would you serve if you hosted an American theater dinner party?" my friend asked.
We racked our brains, but could come up with nothing as appropriate and clever as Gogo and Didi's Carrots, or Ragueneau's Almond Tart. In fact, we had a hard time thinking of any American plays that featured memorable foods... all we could think of were beverages, and alcoholic ones at that. The Tyrones' whiskey. Stanley Kowalski's beer; Blanche DuBois' Southern Comfort. George and Martha virtually emptying their liquor cabinet in the course of one long and harrowing night.
There is probably something to be said here about the differences between French and American culture, and French and American theater... a subject for further investigation. Indeed, I just remembered that the final line of Cocteau's Orphée is "Peut-être arriverons-nous enfin à déjeuner" (roughly, "Perhaps now we can finally have lunch"). The act of sitting down to lunch, in that play, is a signal that everything has been happily resolved. Eurydice pours wine for the other characters, but you can tell that no one is drinking to get plastered, the way they do in American plays. How civilized!
P.S.: Evidently the April 2010 issue of American Theatre magazine was all about the links between theater and food and community, so maybe things are changing in this country. See also Mead's post about an upcoming production, On the Table by Sojourn Theater in Portland, that culminates in a communal dinner. I wonder what's on the menu?