Dîner en Blanc in Singapore

What an unattractive place to have a picnic. That looks like it’s in the middle of a concrete-and-glass jungle. (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. AP photo, from Yahoo! Singapore article. Click photo to go to source site.)

This Dîner en Blanc thing I’ve been reading about today is just hilarious, such comedy, and I have to record it here because I find it funny and odd yet fascinating. I’ve never heard of it until I read an article on Yahoo! Singapore about it.

Singapore is the first Asian city to be selected to hold this event, and that was at first lauded excitedly by some of our bloggers like Moonberry and Daniel’s Food Diary. Controversy surrounds it now however. The Yahoo! article linked above explains it, as well as a Wall Street Journal article where the excerpt below is taken.

Daniel Ang, who blogs at Daniel’s Food Diary, was told by the event’s organizers that the local foods – including the ubiquitous tau huay (soya bean pudding) and chicken rice – were not “in line with the image” of Diner en Blanc. Many in Singapore’s boisterous blogosphere deemed that judgment an insult to local cuisine, a source of pride for many in the city-state.

All versions of Diner en Blanc (Dinner in White) must adhere to strict rules true to the original event first held in Paris in 1988. Billed by organizers as a picnic that “recalls the elegance and glamour of court society,” guests must attend with another member of the opposite sex; men and women sit across from each other in a designated arrangement; and guests must bring their own white tables, chairs, fine china crockery and dress only in white.

I find it so funny because why on earth do some people willingly put up with such a thing? Not only that, I think they even consider it a privilege, to be part of an event where they must adhere to strict rules including wearing only a certain colour.

If I were to wear only red and white at the National Day Parade, it would be because I want to be part of the sense of unity in being Singaporean with the other audience, in celebrating our National Day. If a wedding I’m attending has a colour theme, I would honestly find it a little tedious but I would still turn up in an outfit of the selected colour, in honour of the bride and groom. A purpose that makes sense to me.

But for just a picnic that “recalls the elegance and glamour of court society”, gosh to me that’s just so pretentious it’s embarrassing.

And then having to lug a foldable table and chairs, in addition to a picnic basket of ‘quality menu items’, and dinner sets which must be white and elegant too. White tablecloths. White napkins.

All for what? Unity in what? In recalling the elegance and glamour of court society? In celebrating a love of beauty and good taste? That just sounds snooty, when I’d want it to be sweet and carefree, pretty and whimsical.

Maybe I just find it weird and I just don’t understand it because it’s an event with French roots and I’m not French. Well then just leave it to the French to be French, to do Frenchie things. Maybe the posh picnic thing is related to their culture and history, something meaningful to them in some way. Or something.

Or, I don’t understand it because I’m just not elegant or glamourous. Okay, I’m cool with that too LOL.

I just find the idea funny, but that’s all. I’m not laughing at the people who choose to be part of the event. I don’t hope it rains, and I hope they won’t be bothered at all by the heat and humidity of our outdoors, the flies and mosquitoes, and just have fun. I may not understand the event but that’s just me. To each his and her own idea of fun, and I sincerely hope everything goes smoothly for them and that they all have fun, and walk away with smiles and laughter and sweet memories and photos.

I hope they do it at the Botanical Gardens or Fort Canning Park. Some might consider that predictable but either one would really make a lovely setting for such an event.

Now that’s a gorgeous venue. (Place des Vosges in the Marais district of Paris. REUTERS Photo, from Wall Street Journal. Click photo to go to source site.)

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