March 13, 2010

I had an interesting trans-cultural experience last night.  My landlady, Dolores, invited me to have dinner with her and a group of friends who had met while taking an English class 10 years ago.  A couple of them, along with their instructor, still get together once or twice a year, and she thought it would be fun for them to practice (after all this time!) with a “native” English speaker.  The instructor still teaches English at the local high school, and one of the group is currently taking a business English course with her company.  But for the others, who haven’t formally or regularly dealt with English in the meantime, I find their proficiency amazing.  (For my frame of reference, I took French 12 years ago.  And you can refer to my post on the French ambassador’s lecture I attended a couple of weeks ago to see how well that turned out.)

The venue for this get-together was…the Peking restavracija.  Actually, it was fun.  I have this odd fascination with going to Chinese restaurants in different parts of the world.  Real Chinese food is so different from American Chinese, which is very different from Caribbean Chinese, etc.  So I had been curious about Slovenian Chinese.  I have to say that the restaurant looked eerily similar to those in the States.  In fact, I think they had a copy of the same painting as our favorite place in Ohio (some of you know where).  And I don’t know why I was mildly surprised that the ethnic Chinese staff spoke fluent Slovene.

But the meal.  The meal was a four hour event.  We started by ordering pivo while we waited for everyone to arrive – which was imported Chinese beer instead of the usual local Union or Laško. Then in a succession of courses, we had soup, a platter of assorted appetizers (spring rolls, dumplings, something else fried?), a number of shared entrees served on a turntable, and an ice cream-and-pineapple desert, which was followed by plum wine (they actually brought us two rounds of that).  We had closed the place down by the end.  The food was not notably different from American Chinese (although since I don’t always eat the same dishes, my experimentation is far from consistent).  Some things weren’t as good (the lo mein!) but others were very good (like this chicken, pineapple and sweet pepper concoction…).

It was, of course, interesting to find out new things about Slovenian life from this group.  I learned that high school students are not required to attend classes, only to pass their end-of-course exams.  This obviously has implications for my experiences teaching at the university level.  I also learned that it is custom here for each person to organize a group of friends to go out and celebrate his/her birthday with him/her.  And – so I’m told – it is also custom that that person pays for everything.  Fortunately, I will be in Italy on my birthday.  Otherwise, I might find all kinds of new Slovene friends coming out of the woodwork to “help” me celebrate!

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3 Responses to “”

  1. Betty Cocklin said

    Ah yes, the food – I imagine there are Chinese restaurants here in America where one could stay for that long, but I usually think of Chinese as order it, throw it down the throat, move on! the whole event sounded charming.

    I went to AAA today and got the best map of Slovenia they had, but it ain’t much! Poor old Slovenia just isn’t on the top of most people’s bucket list (which may be the very reason it’s a wonderful place to visit!).

    Can’t quite wrap my USA mind around the educational approach. What do folks answer when you ask “how’s that work for you?”

    Hugs to you Miz V

  2. Kelly said

    Have you had any Slovenian Brandy yet? Slevovitz? (However you spell it?) Jim and his family LOVE it! I think the smell is more than I can handle.

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