French officials may have given precedence to wine over Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.
Letting the world know where the country’s loyalty lies, French officials reportedly canceled plans for a formal lunch between Rouhani and French President Francois Holland. The reason is quite absurd. Apparently the Iran’s administration had asked for a meal with halal meat and more importantly, no wine be served, which the French officials must have thought was an irrational request.
When Iran’s president asked for bottles of Bordeaux and Burgundy to be removed from the table at the Elysée Palace in Paris during his historic trip next week and to ensure the meat was halal certified, French officials politely declined to honor the request and scrapped the plans for the formal meal altogether, reported The Independent.
Incidentally, France’s administration tried to offer an alternative. Instead of a meal without wine, which clearly goes against France’s cultural and culinary customs, French officials suggested Hassan Rouhani could have breakfast with Francois Holland. However, RTL Radio reports the Iranians rejected the idea terming it “too cheap.”
It’s an established fact that France is hugely proud of its culinary credentials. In fact it was recently pronounced a UNESCO world treasure. Moreover, the Elysée Palace has an impeccably stocked wine cellar, which wine connoisseurs would die for. To have to forgo French dishes and a top-grade wine vintage as well as cheese, would certainly be an insult, reported The Telegraph.
Now the two leaders will meet on a rather mundane Tuesday, after Rouhani’s meetings with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Pope Francis and prominent Italian companies have taken place over the weekend. More importantly, there won’t be a dinner or lunch. The meeting is part of “working visit,” indicated a source.
“You don’t necessarily have to have a meal during a state visit.”
It is obvious that neither of the leaders were personally involved in the decision over sticking to halal meat and keeping wine off the table. However, the meetings are quite important for both the countries. France is gearing up to have extensive trade relations with Iran as the latter prepares itself to experience the world after crippling sanctions imposed against the country for a long time, are about to be lifted. In exchange, the country has agreed to have its nuclear program closely monitored, thereby assuring the world that it isn’t harboring plans to develop nuclear weapons.
Hassan Rouhani is visiting Paris as part of a four-day tour of Italy and France beginning November 14. The trip makes him the first Iranian president to travel to Europe in a decade. The country is quite averse to Western influence and has always been wary of Americans and Europeans. The country fears the Western’s influence will ruin Iran’s way of life. ‘Death to America’ is a very common term, pronounced with religious zealotry in the country. Incidentally, Hassan Rouhani, as well as Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei recently attempted to downplay the meaning of the seemingly offensive term, clarifying that ‘Death to America’, was aimed at the American way of life that can corrupt Iran’s youth.
Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Europe is critical for companies in the region. Already automakers as well as airplane makers like Airbus are hopeful the country will confirm an order for commercial jetliners during the president’s visit, reported The Express Tribune. During an interview with broadcaster France 2 and Europe 1 radio, Rouhani had said,
“We already use Airbus or Boeing planes today. Usually when conditions are right our buyers will buy from one or the other and probably it will be Airbus. During my visit, agreement protocols will be signed and this will form the basis for industrial and commercial agreements.”
With lunch plans now scrapped, will the two countries manage sign deals over boring meetings without the world-famous French cuisine and wine?
[Photo by Atta Kenare / Getty Images, Pascal Parrot/Getty Images]