Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dîner Exotique

     After I came home from my sleepover I took the train to my friends house to cook. Rotary organized an event where the exchange students can prepare a dish from their country and present it. My American friends and I wanted to get together to make a spicy chicken curry dish with rice. Many obstacles stood in my way but we eventually completed our objective. I will explain my bizarre traveling experience, the awkward situation at my friends house while we where cooking, and the exotic dinner event itself.
     When I arrived at our renedez-vous in Liège I already ran into a problem. My friends where no where to be seen. Fortunately, I knew which bus to board but afterwards I had no idea. I tried asking the bus driver but he said he had no idea. As I sat on the bus I called my friends to no avail. Automatically my stomach turned and my anxiety kicked in. Why did my friends have to abandon me now? A stranger came up to me and asked where I was heading. I showed him the address and why not? I was already lost and hopefully he knew the way. Indeed he said he recognized the street and it was his stop as well. Happy with joy, I engaged in a conversation with the old man. He told me a Canadian exchange student stayed in his house last year through the Rotary program (like me). Our stop arrived and we quite the bus together. He asked me to see the address again but this time he said he had mistaken the address. I got off the bus too soon Sylvie's house was far off. He proceeded to offer to drive me if I would walk with him to his house just yonder. My instincts told me to refuse and I politely thanked him and explained I would take the next bus in a hour. He left defeated but not too long after he returned with his car. He rolled down his window and again insisted that he could give me a ride. He told me he knew the host father of my friend. I didn't give him the name of my friends host father so my confidence in him grew. I called my friend just to make sure and without a doubt the two men knew each other. With this in mind, I hopped in his car and arrived at my destination. This altruistic man went out of his way to help a lost exchange student like me and I felt so much gratitude. I think he had sympathy for me because he understood the complications of being a foreigner, since he knew the Canadian exchange student. Before we went our own ways I thanked him with much enthusiasm and entered my friends house.
     Right away we began to prepare for "the Exotic Diner." We made the chicken casserole and Oreo Fluff (a family recipe) as a desert for the Rotary event. For our lunch my friend Gretta made home made french fries with barbecue sauce. They where better than the Belgian fries (sorry Belgian frite venders!)
     While we were baking my friends dad walked in and told Sylvie that one of us had to go home. Sylvie's parents felt disrespected that 3 friends instead of 2 were staying the night. Apparently my friend Gretta forgot to ask permission to sleep over. The bigger issue was the fact that Gretta lived several hours away and it was already dark. On top of that, the trains didn't run late enough to take Gretta home. Obviously Gretta had to stay, however, my friend Claire and I didn't want to take the trains and buses home because it was dangerous. I also did not want to repeat my earlier experience on the bus. Sylvie and I talked to Sylvie's host dad to explain the situation and give our apologies. With much convincing and bargaining, Sylvie's parents allowed us to stay. I still felt uncomfortable and terrible about the awkward situation.
     We went for a walk when we finished cooking. My friend got tired so I threw her on my back and jogged for many yards. It was also fun showing off my skills. I plan to join the Air force or Navy so I jog almost everyday. Anyway, that night we stayed up late and the next morning got up super early. I had an idea to give the Oreo Fluff to Sylvie's family as a "we're sorry" present. The family were surprised but gratified. We survived the first half of our journey but it was not over.
     Sylvie's host dad gave us a ride to the Liège train station but we missed our train by a few minutes. As we waited for the next train we sat down in a café and ate the leftovers from our "exotic diner." Many foreign exchange students missed the train as well so we hung out with them and arrived together.
     When I walked through the entrance I inhaled the odor of all the traditional foods mixed together. I searched for the American section and found not many dishes were present. It is evident that dishes originating from America are low in supply since America consists of foreigners who brought their traditional foods with them when they immigrated. Nevertheless, many American foreign exchange students made foods like PB&J, hotdogs, and the sort. I was dying of hunger but all the foreign exchange students had to wait because the adults and guests, who paid for entry, had first dibs on the food. The foreign exchange students cheated and snuck food anyway. The Japanese, Indian, and chinese dishes where the best in my opinion (because they are my favorite). I left feeling very full and satisfied. Rotary events can be stressful with all the preparations but its worth it in the end.      

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