Saturday, August 26, 2006

What comes around goes around

Even before I ever studied abroad, I had a knack for befriending international students. In church youth group in junior high, it was Suzanna from Brazil. In high school, it was Andrea from Switzerland and Tim from England. (I always felt a little sorry for the foreign students who decided to spend a year in the States and then lo and behold, they get plopped smack dab in the middle of Idaho). And there are too many names to mention from college.

But the friend I thought of tonight was Jean-Pierre. I met him at our campus writing center when he came in to get some help with a paper he was writing for one of his MBA courses. Jean-Pierre was (and still is) the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome, with startling blue eyes, and a French accent to boot. "Can you help me with zis paper?" he asked.

Sure, just as soon as I can speak proper English again, I thought as I scooped my chin off the table.

But despite my initial infatuation with his Frenchness, I quickly learned that his Frenchness came with a dark side, including a girlfriend. And while he might have been willing to forget about that pesky detail, I was not.

Nevertheless, we became good friends and spent a lot of time together, including dining in the student cafeteria. I remember thinking it very, very odd that the Frenchman sitting at the table with me insisted on eating his French fries with a fork.

"Jean-Pierre," I admonished. "Just because you're French, doesn't mean you know the right way to eat French fries. Anyway, French fries are Belgian. Furthermore, French fries are finger food. That means you eat them with your FINGERS."

"Well, in France we eat pommes frites with a fork," he retorted as he stabbed a fry and took a bite.

I never did convince that Frenchman of the proper way to eat French fries in America.

But tonight I ate humble pie.

Actually, I ate French fries. With a fork.

And to add insult to injury, I didn't order fries. I was at a British pub, so they served me some chips along with that humble pie.

6 Comments:

Blogger InMyHumbleOpinion said...

Too funny! I one time had dinner at an old boyfriends house with his grand-mother and his father, both born and raised in Russia, his sister and her boyfriend (2nd generation from Puerto Rico), and me, the Southern American. We had Fried Chicken, and everyone used knives and forks. What's up with that??

8:58 PM  
Blogger nels, ed, nitro, and/or xing said...

i can totally relate--we had an intern from france, and invited him to go fishing with us. we had some really nice sandwiches (crusty bread, lotsa veggies, good quality deli meats) at our house before we left, and he insisted on cutting his sammich into bite-size pieces and eating with a fork--a tremendously time-consuming and clumsy procedure. go figure.

kitties' mom--cheryl

12:24 AM  
Blogger trulsa said...

Just out of curiosity: which part of Idaho are you from?

It's really funny to read about these kind of things. I once had a discussion with a mexican guy at the UofI about how to raise daughters. He asked me if I would ever let my daughter go to a college abroad? When I replied I would encourage her to do so, he looked at me with great surprise and said "but you'd only let her live in a sorority house, right? Where no boys are allowed". I told him that no, I would trust her and hopefully have given her a good self esteem and raised her in a way that she could take care of herself, so no, she would get to choose which way to live on or off campus. He was chocked.

He meant that he would raise a daughter like a princess, spoil and pamper her, but keep her in the house and forbid her to meet guys. He knew how guys thinks. It was my turn to become chocked... ANd no matter what kind of arguments I had, we could not agree. He thought I was from another planet. And I thought he was from the 17th century, and being very hipppocratic - dating girls himself.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous docrotk said...

Don't you mean FREEEEDOM FRIES!!! What bothers me most is that I had a very elegant solution to that problem which you already touched on, a way to express their anger at the French, without saying something so idiotic, and while simultaneously expressing their gratitude towards the British - simply start calling them chips. Incredibly, the only place I've been to which actually had "freedom fries" on the menu was actually in Stockholm.

7:07 AM  
Blogger Different said...

ha ha ha
well, I've always eaten fries with the fingers if they came from McDonalds, but with a fork at Hard Rock.

11:21 PM  
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10:01 AM  

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