Living abroad always seems to bring about unexpected surprises. One of those surprises happens to show up around the dinner table. How about you? Are you a picky eater or do you just gobble up anything that is placed before you without asking?
It's now been over six years since I began my life abroad and yet I still am caught off guard by the generosity of people. And often times that generosity shows up while sitting at the dinner table. My husband and I often get invited to neighbors or friends to share a meal. It is a place where people get to share their favorite recipes and memories. The table is a place where you share a part of yourself with those around you. It is my favorite part about the life we lead, however it does not come without surprises.
It's funny. We as humans, we all kind of look alike...well okay, maybe your skin color is different from mine or maybe your accent is hard for me to understand but essentially we are all one. The table is where our differences really begin to shine.
Last week we were invited to friends for dinner. I love hanging with this couple even though they do not speak English and my Polish, although is getting better, is still far from being able to carry on a conversation. It's amazing how far hand gestures can take you!
As we walked in the door I noticed the table was set, the candles were lit, the music was playing...ahhh a relaxing afternoon lies ahead. Oh how I romanticize life. I know that about me, but I refuse to take off my rose colored glasses.
We sit, sip on some wine, maybe have a shot of vodka or two...we are in Poland afterall. Some traditions I have come to adore and living in Poland my love of vodka has grown immensely. Then...it happened...my heart racing...I begin sweating...my mind is searching for a way out...
As the food begins to find its way to the table my eyes try to focus on what is placed before me. Could it be? Do they really? What do I do or say? Can I?
This is a delicacy I tell myself. And what do people wish to share with you...their very finest...delicacy. What's for dinner you ask? Steak tartare and Aspic is the main meal. This is where differences in cultures arise. As my eyes bug out of my head, my husband is rubbing is hands together with excitement. The hosts see my expression and are verklempt as to what to do. There is no plan B.
I can do this, I say silently to myself. They haven't died yet so maybe there is a chance that I won't either. I'm just gonna put my big girl panties on and grab a spoonful of the Steak Tartare and the other offerings that are on the table yet I stop at the Aspic. I have to draw the line somewhere. Seeing the jelly shaking with the turkey meat inside just freaks me out. Seriously! I know, I know, the jelly is all collagen and this dish is really good for you but my mind takes over. Does that happen to you? I know I can't be the only one...or am I?
Thank goodness for the bread basket. Poles love bread and are excellent bakers so I can always make do. This time, I took the Steak Tartare and spread it on a slice of bread. Steak Tartare is made from the finest cut of beef and ground on the spot from the butcher. You then add spices and some Worcestershire Sauce and capers laying some fresh onion on the top. Many times Steak Tartare is served with a raw egg on top, thankfully that was not the case here although I found out after the meal that they had already mixed it in!!! Oh my, thank goodness I didn't know that ahead of time.
Bread in hand I slather it with the ground meat, take a shot of vodka...what is happening to me? All eyes at the table are on me. Sweating, heart pounding, my hand moves closer to my mouth. I take a bite and expect the worst. My head is swirling with the "what if" thoughts of...can I swallow this...what do I do if I can't? Then my mouth explodes with the delicate flavor of the spices all gently melding together. It is magic. I am actually enjoying eating raw meat and raw egg and I didn't die. Am I becoming Polish?
And although the Aspic never made it to my plate, the hosts were so thrilled to be able to share this part of their world with me and I also feel joy in being able to get yet another sneak peak into the lives of another culture.
Hand in hand, we all walk the Earth together. Wishing you a day with your rose colored glasses on seeing the world in a new light.
11/13/2021 03:06:39 pm
Nope guess it would be bread basket for me !
11/14/2021 06:39:27 am
Hello Merry. I just found your blog on FB. My husband and I also live abroad in the Republic of Georgia. We bought an apartment in Chiatura, in 2019. We were perpetual travelers, for many years, and enjoyed visiting Poland. Now, since the pandemic, we are doing less traveling, but are busy with some renovations on our apartment. I'd love to stay connected and look forward to reading more of your posts.
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