Chez Bene&Bolle

Today’s review is not about a fancy new gig in town or about a promising young culinary artist on his way to stardom. Today is a small reminiscing about a great evening among old friends. It has been many years since we had last met with Bene and Bolle, and they have made it a night to remember. To add to the harmony, our best friends Patrick and Hilde were also at the rendezvous.

Lounging in front of the fireplace we started effortlessly, cracking jokes,  sharing views, casually, as if we had last met just the other day.

And it goes to say that the most important ingredient of a successful night out is not the food nor the dress or the music, it is the company

Having said that, with great company, great food is often not far away 😃

And Bolle definitely did not disappoint. With Bene as a perfect host serving us delicious plate after delicious plate. I liked the idea of fresh oysters with passion fruit (a great marketing recipe for a love potion!) and I wonder why so few people know about the never failing delight of freshly baked crispy cheese wafers.

One of the gains of finding yourself among real friends is that few subjects are off limits. We had neither time nor intention to deep dive into heavy personal topics this particular evening but it is comforting to know that diverting opinions do exist, that they are allowed to exist, that they are respected and that there is willingness to explore one’s point of view.

Of course we talked about the events in Paris, the brutal killing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, of the policemen and of the hostages at the supermarket. And of course we all condemned this barbary and there are no ‘buts’ to attenuate the circumstances. Yet, when all was said,  the one aspect I missed, not just in the evening’s  discussion, but in all I have  heard, read and seen in the various media,  was  a simple reflection, the question if we, if  our society, could have done something to prevent young  citizens, born and raised among us, homegrown children,  to get radicalised to the point of giving in to blind hatred and self destruction. The question has to be asked. And just like we, friends, try to understand each others point of view, why don’t we try to understand theirs? When Boku Haram in Nigeria kidnaps children and exterminates entire villages, we do frown, we do find it horrific, but then we shrug and get on with our lives. Only when it hits us at home, do we act. When a minute fraction of Boku Haram violence hits us close to where we live, we suddenly wake up and demand changes.  in my view, this attack did target Charlie Hebdo, but more than that, it targeted our Western society as a whole. Our response is now focused on repression when it actually should focus on better understanding and prevention. Unfortunately, that is  a type of language that did not seem to be lost to our current ruling politicians these faithful last few days.

On the other hand, the bouillabaisse, this particular evening,  was ‘to die for’ and when it was  followed by one of my all time favourites, a succulent roast of rabbit, any leftover resistance to restrain my calory intake was thrown overboard. Lucky too because just in time to accept several slices of  mocca and vanilla ice cake.

Hmm, somehow, after the terrorist paragraph talking about food suddenly sounds less appetising. But maybe it’s just me. I am not at peace with myself, I admit. I do feel a sense of guilt, being among the lucky few on this planet who can bathe in affluence. Even though I also feel that we deserved every bit of it, as we didn’t get it for free but through hard study and hard work. Even though I do acknowledge that our system has entrenched layers of solidarity and a well established safety net for our less talented or less fortunate co-citizens.  Yet, in spite of all of this,  I can not help to think that there is a lot of bias in our sense of ‘egality, fraternity and liberty’. It seems to me that somehow, some of us are still more equal than others.

So, let’s again raise our glass my friends! I praise myself lucky to live among you. You who are yourselves of sound mind and who, while sharing good wine, can uplift a nice and relaxing dinner into great and intelligent conversation. And isn’t that precisely what differentiates us from the other animals?