Amir Haleem kicks off *Aurora’s mouth watering new series Come dine with me, by inviting Beethoven, David Ogilvy and Julia Child to dinner.*
On November 2 this year, I plan to celebrate Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican tradition aimed at celebrating and honouring those amongst us who have passed on. The Mexicans see death as a natural part of life; not an occasion for sadness but rather for celebration.
So I went to Saddar, found an old psychic, and asked him to send out a dinner invitation to three dead people I would like to meet on that day. My invitations were accepted and they promised to be there on the appointed day. The old man then promptly handed me a bill and I was surprised at the steep rate he charged for each invitation. Apparently, in the spiritual realm postal rates are not excluded from the current government’s taxation drive.
Nevertheless, with this deed done, I can now make my dinner plans - you don’t just invite the dead and tick them off by serving them bad food. That would be a sure shot way to start a good haunting in your house in The Grudge tradition. So I asked myself... what would each one of them like to eat?
My first guest is Ludwig Van Beethoven, a man who fell to the curse of his ninth symphony. If you are familiar with classical music, you will know that composers are very superstitious about their ninth symphony. So many have died soon after composing their ninth, which is why the music industry takes the curse very seriously. Apart from Beethoven, Mahler, Atterberg and Siegmeister, many others succumbed to the curse. I am a bit nervous because Beethoven’s ninth is exactly what I want to talk to him about. I hope he is not too sensitive about it.
My reasons, however, are not obvious. It is not the superstition I am interested in, but the fact that he composed this masterpiece between 1822 and 1824, by which time he was completely deaf. I have always been fascinated by what it I would be like for a man, whose life was entirely about music, to lose his ability to hear and then end up creating one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. To discuss this with Ludwig, I have settled on a good serving of schnitzel, a German favourite, served with grilled potatoes. I have to make sure that I serve exactly eight potatoes and not nine! You never know what may trigger a ghost.
My second guest is a different kind of Pied Piper. While Beethoven lured his followers with music, David Ogilvy enchanted with him words, and as an ad man myself, the power of words has fascinated me more than anything else in the world. Ogilvy was a master of words. Many of you know about him turning unknown brands into bestsellers, but did you know that turned around the economy of Puerto Rico with a single headline? It’s easy to know what to talk about with a man who won three accounts (Shell, Thom McAn Shoes and British Travel) with a single lunch date. But what do you serve to such a man? As someone who consistently preached a no-nonsense approach to advertising, I think I will serve the most no-nonsense food in the world – the Classic American Hot Dog.
I am, however, very nervous about my third guest. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that Julia Childs, one of the great celebrity chefs of all time and my childhood idol, had accepted my invitation. While most of you were enamoured by the likes of Amitabh or Sean Connery in the early eighties, I preferred to watch Julia pour butter on her breast – you should really try her Supreme de Volaille aux Champignons (butter splattered chicken breast fillet with mushrooms and cream) – it is out of this world. Having given it thought, I settled on her signature dish Coq au Vin (chicken in wine). Julia created the dish as a delicious way to tenderise the tough meat of an old bird for poor households. Now many of you might think it a bit audacious of me to attempt such a thing, but having survived almost three decades in the Pakistani advertising industry by taking tired old client briefs and tenderising them with a bit of Chardonnay to produce reasonable results I might just be able to pull off a Coq au Vin after all.
Do you agree with my choices of meals? If not, you can always write to me on email@example.com.
Syed Amir Haleem is CEO, Kueball.