Occasionally for my day job I find myself reporting to the “Bureaucratic Mecca” of the known universe (aka Washington, D.C.). Now as Huntsville only boasts a small to medium sized airport it’s often difficult to escape people from your childhood and minor local celebrities. However, fate occasionally intercedes.
On this particular trip, I found myself sitting next to a truly remarkable individual for the 2 hour long plane ride. Of the roughly 400 million residents in the U.S., only 100 of them can claim to be U.S. Senators. And for a short plane ride I had a constituency of one! (sorry for the West Wing reference)
For 2 hours, this particular Senator and I discussed good food, experiences with French food, and of course great beer! Politics never entered into the conversation.
As the plane ride progressed, I thought that my idle conversations would begin to bore him. How do we, as normal (run of mill) folks converse with people who are used to talking to presidents and prime ministers? I couldn’t have been more wrong about my initial apprehension. Either he was the pinnacle of good Southern manners, or truly interested. The world may never know. But the end result was a very interesting conversation.
It turns out that he was familiar with French Provence style cuisine. I couldn’t resist. We shared a number of recipes ideas, food concepts, and tales of some of our favorite dishes. It was in any event an eye opening experience. And as a result we might have to step up our menu options at the Nook in the very near future (I’m thinking some kind of lamb!)
And as the conversation progressed, I found myself wondering what it must be like to be in this man’s position. Here was one of the most influential men in the country if not the world, and he was flying next to a 20-something wearing a bright red Hawaiian shirt prattling on about beer and food. But what was truly remarkable was his understanding and approachable demeanor. Perhaps it comes naturally to politicians, but I would prefer to hope this isn’t the case.
In any event, it was food and beer and our mutual experiences with both that brought us together. For 2 hours he wasn’t a U.S. Senator and I wasn’t a mindless government drone with an overzealous passion for the culinary arts. We were just two people, sharing an interesting conversation.
Many thanks to my understanding flying companion.
As always, eat good food. Drink good beer. And above all, stay classy.