Checks whether he is my guest

Worcestershire

Senior Member
We are at the Jubilee, a cosy French restaurant just around the corner from Kissinger’s Midtown Manhattan apartment. <-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)-----> When we order, Kissinger checks whether he is my guest.

‘Ah yes,’ he says, chortling after I insist he is. ‘Otherwise that would be corruption.’

——Henry Kissinger: “We are in a Very, Very Grave Period”
By Edward Luce in Financial Times

By the Financial Times’s US national editor, I found this article vividly interesting, not only because it dwells on the solemn topic of the future of the world order heralded in by the Trump era, also because the article weaves in anecdotally gossip about how Kissinger conducts his famed consultancy business, giving a peeking insight into Kissinger’s personality.

The exchange about Kissinger making sure he was the guest for that lunch is one of such gems.

My question: is such practice of checking who is the host and who is the guest common when dining at a fancy restaurant? What exact language one uses to do that?

Thanks.
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    My question: is such practice of checking who is the host and who is the guest common when dining at a fancy restaurant? What exact language one uses to do that?
    I cannot answer about fancy restaurants, but in business (and I dare say politics as well) it is sometimes very important to establish who is paying for compliance reasons, exactly as Luce describes. It happens in the most mundane situations, such as having lunch in the pub round the corner when a customer is visiting a supplier, or vice versa.

    There is no particular language used. Usually the person making the suggestion also makes it clear that they will pay; alternatively that they cannot pay for the other party.
    "Shall we go and get some lunch? I'm afraid I cannot offer to pay for you."
    "That's okay, I'll pay for you instead."
    "Thank you very much."​
     

    Worcestershire

    Senior Member
    What supprised me is that Kissunger is apprently not in Government anymore. Presumablly the sole owner of his consultancy busuness, Kissinger & Associates, he should not have concern about ethic issue that I can unferstand would arise in the circumstances where one being treated as the guest works for a company in which he has no direct financial interests beyond receiving paychecks.

    Culturally, nor is it my experince that friends going out to dine socially would delineate host/guest status before hand in such express terms.

    Maybe the fact that the situiation here is not purely social between two close friends would explain it?

    I have to say it is in stark contrast in China There the question of who will be picking up the tab is rarely openly discussed, especially before hand. Mostly, this is decided by an implicit social norm that visitor would be treated as a guest, except in business and government affairs in which case the person who holds a higher power or status would alomost always be the guest.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    he should not have concern about ethic issue that I can unferstand would arise in the circumstances where one being treated as the guest works for a company in which he has no direct financial interests beyond receiving paychecks.
    I'm not sure I've understood you but I think Kissinger was suggesting that if he paid for the writer, a journalist, it could be viewed as consideration for the advertisement that the article would bring his consulting business. I don't know if it was a joke.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    America has very strict laws on corrupt practices (which affect anyone working for an American company anywhere in the world), which often makes this sort of discussion necessary when a meal or entertainment is taken as part of business. Social norms have nothing to do with it. I don't know what Kissinger's role was at the time, but I expect he was being entirely serious, and that the corruption referred to was a crime, not just a matter of gaining advertising.
     
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