Allow me to explain the title right away. Mardi is Tuesday in French (oh yeah, Mardi Gras!) and Melting Pot is a reference to the sought-after dinners that I went to, every Tuesday, during my brief stay in Strasbourg.
What – The Dinner Club
Who – An always-present group of 8 comprising 1 American, 2 Canadians, 2 Italians, 2 Germans and of course the Indian. The youngest being all of 21 and the oldest …well, lets not get there. And every once in a while, a few other invitees gracing their presence.
Why – A random but brilliant suggestion from Rach, the Canadian in the first week we met. We got so taken by the concept that it became a weekly ritual thereon.
Why Tuesday– Because none of us had to teach on Wednesdays!!! (One drink was always reserved
for the French Education Ministry, bless them.)
Where: Mostly at the humble but comfy abodes of Mr/Ms Canadian or Miss. American and occasionally at others.
When: Starting around 1930 / 2000 . Typically ending at midnight when some of us rushed to catch the last tram of 0030.
Now for the interesting part – what ensued every Tuesday?
1) Food! The idea was that one person would cook and bring the food of his/her respective country. Repetition wasn’t allowed. So once we were done with pancakes, pastas and rice we moved on to exploring other cuisines – notably Cuban and Japanese among others. At this point, it is only apt that the rest of the group express their gratitude to me – how else would they have known that such amazing vegetarian options existed in their countries if not for me? *evil grin*
2) Wine! Some secret clubs have passwords. Ours was a bottle of wine (Champagne if you may, but no one ever got that generous barring once). The sane exception to this was the insane German boy who religiously got a carton of jus d’orange (we suspect he bought them wholesale). Must admit though that it was a wise decision, especially when other bottles had dried up. On that note, here’s some trivia: A bottle of wine from the supermarket can be bought for as little as 1 Euro. Les français, they sure have their priorities right.
3) Games. I’ve learnt some whacky and absolutely rip-roaring games over those dinners!
4) French. Being in the country that gave us an opportunity to come together, we kept it as the medium of communication. Occasionally cheating every now and then with English. I’d safely say that my French improved from 5% to 25% thanks to these dinners.
5) Swear words! In French, German Spanish Italian, Polish, you-name-what. Some in Hindi were promptly imparted. (All my hindi speaking friends, I can see y’all smirking at the girl from south. @#$!)
6) Melting pot. Of different nationalities. The serious fun part. Being the lone Indian who went to Strasbourg (there were more than 5 who went to Paris and other regions likewise) turned out to be such a blessing – it ensured that I dint roam around in ‘clans’ and consciously got out of my comfort zone to meet and make new friends.
All in all, a cultural/gastronomic enlightenment! So many new things observed, eaten, learned, experienced. Now I know that referring to USA as America can annoy the life out of a Canadian, that nothing could be more scandalous to an Italian than eating vegetarian bolognaise (no, not even Berlusconi), and my changed perception of Germans who have already got due mention in my earlier post! And finally an inference from this group that Indians seem to be the only ones who cant sip their drink patiently with dinner.
While each one of us are so different, there were so many things we liked and so much we all felt strongly about. If only being together was as easy as this, the world would be so much more peaceful! I’m starting to feel a li’l preachy now so time to bring this to an end.
Merci mes amis – all of you in the above pic – for all of the above!