|Everyone loves corn on the cob.|
I have two friend in the Czech Republic who, as you can see, are very much in love. They love each other in a way that is bigger than themselves. They love each other in a way that makes people wish they were loved as much as Petr and Ida love each other. I have had the pleasure of knowing both of them before they were in love, and watching their love and faith grow. Just last month they welcomed a baby girl into their family. More love to go around. This story, though, is not about love as much as it is about food.
|Petr & Ida|
So much culture revolves around food as well as language. We have to eat and we love to eat together. It was around a table with my husband Silas and friend P.R., that Ida told a story about food. I'll tell the story using my best language skills.
Ida, who is Czech and speaks wonderful English as a second language, was telling an embarrassing story, in English. A few days before, at a table full of people, she began to touch Petr's food. She had been missing touching his food because we had been at camp for several days. She had not been able to touch his food while at camp. (At this point in the story my mind is going crazy. Is it a difference in culture that touching other's food is a sign of marital bliss? Is this a language problem? Does she mean she likes to cook his food? I just sat at the table listening as if the story made perfect sense, but it didn't)
While eating dinner the other night, she began to touch what she thought was Petr's food. Finally after a while of this "food-touching" another man at the table questions, "who is touching my food?" (at this point I was able to eliminate some of my previous questions, okay, all of my questions. I was on the wrong track completely, the story made no sense at all, and people in the Czech Republic have the quirkiest traditions)
She went on to explain how embarrassed she was to be touching someone's food, which was not her husband's. I imagined her hands covered with universal brown sauce from the plate to her right, when she meant to be dipping her fingers in the sause and meat to the left. Whoops?!
Being confused is something you have to get used to while visiting a place where their language isn't your language. We just listened to the story, like it was no big deal.
After her story would have been the time for us to sympathise with her utter embarrassment. We didn't. No one nervously laughed with compassion. I was both completely embarrassed for her and her story and completely confused.
Finally someone poked a bit farther into the story to make some sense of it. It was a language problem, or, it was an accent problem. While we thought Ida was saying "food" the whole story, she was actually saying "FOOT"!!!!! Ah-ha!!! As the reader, you probably saw that coming the whole time you were reading. After a week of exhausting youth camp, and jet lag, and the story being told near mid-night, all I heard was "food".
I think it is a way better story if you use the word "food", but Ida was touching Petr's foot, not his food. I think she does touch his food when she cooks it, but it is not a Czech custom to finger your spouse's goulash.