It’s Friday evening and I’m waiting for dinner to start. Normally, my host family won’t feed me on the weekends, but since we just got here the day before she’ll make an exception so she asks if we want pizza for dinner. It isn’t exactly what I want, since I can get that anywhere and I would prefer a home cooked meal rather than something bought, but I said yes to be polite. Alas, I settled in for a lazy night of pizza on a Friday night, just like I’ve done dozens of times in college with friends and family alike.
Boy was I wrong.
Dinner started at about seven, when my host mom brought in a couple glasses of wine and bread covered with foie gras, a delicacy I had completely forgotten about since I first tried it in high school. It was just as delicious as I remembered.
Next, her son showed up with the pizza, and I was surprised because there only two medium pizzas but there was five of us in total. It didn’t seem like it was going to be enough, but I figured that might just be because it was a Friday night and everybody was planning on doing something later. So I grabbed a slice, unexpectedly enjoying the familiarity of something as simple as pizza after two days of culture shock, and grabbed another one after I polished off the first as we sat in the living room discussing language differences between English and French.
Suddenly, my host mom and her boyfriend stand up and head to the kitchen. As my roommate and I struggled through a conversation in French, the boyfriend returned and started setting the table with silverware and bread as my roommate and I glanced confused looks at each other. As our tired minds turned to figure out what was happening, my host mom returned.
With her, she brought a good slab of pork and a bowl full of peas and carrots. And of course, there was the traditional baguette to go with it. After I struggled to finish my food, she brought in a couple pieces of fruit for us to eat for dessert, which I managed to eat despite my stomach telling me I was full 30 minutes ago.
I was shocked. In the course of one meal, I had eaten what was the equivalent of at least three, maybe four, meals back home. During what I thought was going to be a lazy night.
For comparison, a lazy dinner back home includes chex mix and a yogurt.
There are some cultural differences I think it’s going to take me a while to adjust and some that should come more quickly. Saying hello to people every time I walk in a new room or building has come pretty naturally, largely thanks to my midwestern background. Having class for three hours straight once a week rather than having three one-hour sessions is going to be difficult.
But lazy pizza nights that wind up being a four-course meal? That’s one that I think I’m going to enjoy.