November 4, 2016

Casual Smart Cultural Dining at the Swiss and Belgian Embassy

Antwerpse handjes

Two weeks in a row I was dining at an embassy. Not bad at all, I wouldn’t mind getting used to this. The first dinner was a cultural get-together at the Swiss Embassy, which is in between the Hauptbahnhof and the Reichstag in a no-man's-land. Apparently it was the only building that was not bombed in that area during World War II. The tables were arranged according to Swiss cheeses and I was at the Sbrinz cheese table. It’s funny, right, to arrange your tables according to cheese.  It’s a very Swiss thing to do. French people would never think of arranging their tables according to Camembert, etc. It’s the kind of Swiss humor you also see at work in the art pieces by Roman Signer and Fischli and Weiss. The confusing thing was that the cheese never made it on the table for real. The same at the Belgian dinner, my table was named after Isa Genzken and she never showed up. 

The Belgian dinner was organized for the visit of people from the Middelheim open air museum near Antwerp. On the table were delicious “Antwerpse handjes” and Belgian chocolate, but the highlight of the evening was the speech of the wife of the Belgian Ambassador. It was her mother’s birthday and she shared with us an advice her mother used to give her, which is to pay attention to everything that comes your way. Also to people. So I turned myself to my right side (I already knew my left side, which was occupied by my friend, art lover Shuai Wang). Sitting next to me was Stefan K├Ârner, who works at a big German auction house. We had a great conversation about his correspondence with Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld is all about efficiency, he told me. If you repeat yourself, he’s quick to say that you’ve already said that. No surprise for the man who said "I'm lazy all the time, I just know how to exploit it." Lagerfeld also writes real letters on special, beautiful paper. Like love letters. Isn’t that the sweetest thing to do? 

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