Monday, October 24, 2005

Dinner Pause

On Saturday, F and I had dinner with Vera and Ton at their house for the first time. We've had them over for dinner and we've been over to their house for parties and planning meetings, but we've never had dinner with them alone at their house. Vera is one of F's older sisters. She's the fifth and last girl, making her the middle of the nine. Ton is her husband.

When I met Vera about a year and half ago, I immediately took a liking to her. She's about 56 and is very friendly. The problem is that she doesn't speak much English and up to now, I haven't spoken much Dutch. So now we're getting to talk to each other without an interpreter. She's pretty patient. Ton is her husband. F and I have gone to the sauna with Ton and one of F's brothers, Matthy. Ton speaks English pretty good, but he has reverted to Dutch since I've begun speaking. Vera and Ton smoke, as do several of the sibs. They have two daughters, Jacquline (who lives in Antwerp with Martijn) and Simone.

When we arrived, we sat and had a glass of water. Then it was on to the red wine. Then Vera pulled out a couple of blocks of cheese with some paté. She asked which I would like. Then she spread it on a cracker and handed it. She was in control of the cheese tray the entire time. Sort of wacky, sort of nice. She wasn't stingy or anything, just in control.

Dinner consisted of fondu. I've had more fondu since I've been here than I had in my last twenty years living in America. It just went out of fashion there. Here, nothing goes out of fashion. I believe I wrote about eating cheese fondu with Henk and Yvonne several months ago. Talk about a rock in your stomach. But was it good? Oh my goodness - yes!

This fondu thing is about various meats cut into small chunks with boiling oil, which I could smell during the cheese course. It's amazingly slow. Not the cooking of the meat, but that you have to cook each one individually. There was salad and different sauces - they love a saté sauce here - and of course, bread. They love bread. Then they served ice cream, which lots of people really love.

The strangest thing about it - indeed, the reason I decided to write - is that in the middle of dinner (I guess a signal was given, but all conversation was in Dutch, so I might have missed it) everything was cleared except the dinner plates and the pickles and Ton announced a "pause." Then Vera and Ton smoked a cigarette. After that, everything was replaced and we commenced eating. A pause in the middle of dinner because you were jonesing for a smoke? What...ever.

I totally dig Vera. She's been aching to talk to me - and I her - for some time. So it's good to be able to chat. She seems to be in search of employment. I don't think she has to work to pay the mortgage, but she likes to keep busy and make some cash. I spoke with her friend, Ina, for an hour or so some months ago - before F and I began speaking Dutch together.They used to clean F's old apartment and I could totally dig them cleaning ours.

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