Friday, 27 November 2009

Culture Clash

For us North American expats, lunchtime is an interesting anthropological study. For example, lunch during the school week is pretty laid back, a tuna sandwich, some fruit, a yogurt are standard fare. On the weekends, we might upgrade the sliced bread to a baguette, and add some cheese and olives. The emphasis on all of the aforementioned is 'cold lunch'. As in most Canadian households, dinner is the hot meal.

Not so in Geneva! Lunch is the big meal of the day and it's usually multiple courses. Salad and bread, followed by soup, a hot meal, and dessert. And never never never is milk offered as a drink, no it's always l'eau de robinet (tap water) and if you're really lucky sirop, which is a sickly sweet substance added to sweeten the l'eau de robinet.

Consequently, J has learned never to spontaneously invite anyone home for lunch from school. I need at least a day to ensure adequate groceries and time to prepare a large meal. I will never forget when J's copine (girl friend) Olivia looked at the sandwich plunked down in front of her 2 years ago, looked at me and moaned 'mais je ne mange pas des sandwiches pour diner!' (but I don't eat sandwiches for lunch). I was mortified.

So yesterday morning while getting dressed for school, this conversation occured with J:

J: Can I invite a friend for lunch?

Me: Oh sorry bud, I'm going grocery shopping this afternoon, I don't have any food in the house to make a hot meal.

J: Oh, okay. Can Adam come then?

We Canadians gotta stick together eh Cindy?


Anonymous said...

oh, so true. I NEVER have kids over to eat lunch unless I know ahead of time, because otherwise I feel I need to explain myself to the parents...

Sher said...

I hear you. My kids eat three courses with their nounou every day.

Mighty Mom said...

Try taking that three course expectation to the American public school lunch environment. After moving from Switzerland to the USA, my girls couldn't fathom eating the school's 'hot lunch' program that includes such American classics as Sloppy Joe's and taco salad. That said, I've been loading hot lunch into a thermos at 7:30am for months. This fall, Mouse was coming home with half her lunch half uneaten, insisting she didn't have time to eat. Quite concerned, I brought it up at our parent teacher conference. There I was told that the kids should be getting 20 minutes to eat and that the teacher would look into it. Twenty minutes!!! That's a salad course alone! No wonder!

sista said...

Oh Kik, another funny blog. I think you should rename your blog "Moments.....with j" You two make quite the comedy team!
Keep em coming.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I love the "oh...can Adam come then?" question....I can totally see J asking that!


Jawahara said...

That's one smart kid...and one who can already so easily navigate between cultures.

Jen said...

Funny post! Even in Brisbane I had to get used to the multi-meals they had here! "Snack attack", morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, and finally dinner! I feel like I'm shopping all the time!

Thanks for your comments on my blog! Yes, I'm a Calgary girl. Melissa and I used to live on the same block when they were in Calgary! I was actually inspired by her blog to start my own.

Brisbane is fun but we didn't bring our dog. If you time it right with vet shots/ testing, I think you still end up having your pet in quarantine for at least 30 days.