Sunday, June 29, 2008

Etiquette in Africa?

Hi all,
Well, I woke up on Saturday morning and I actually felt healthy for the first time in a week! It was almost like....I was the energizer bunny because I felt so well. It reminded me how sick really I had been because feeling well was so unfamiliar.

Big social event happened on Friday. We only work half days on Fridays, and the Ambassador had invited a select few of us to her house for lunch. Ok, now remember this is the foreign service. She did not casually walk by my desk and verbally ask me to stop by her place for sandwiches after work. Oh no. I got an engraved invitation! It was all very formal! Her house is very beautiful (nothing like mine) and she has a staff of servants to pour the wine and prepare the food. For those curious in the crowd, she served Lasagna (yea comfort food!) and bread and salad. For desert we had mixed fruit in a crystal dish, topped with chocolate ice cream. No, it's not Amy's Ice Cream, but I'll take it. Somehow, I am really missing ice cream over here. It's not very available and it does not taste the same as the US. Anyway, enough about the food. I had a mini-crisis about the forks! I took several etiquette classes at UT, so I pretty much know how to butter bread the correct way (yes, guys, there is a proper way to eat bread at a formal table), and to use the silverware from the outside in. Well......the table was set with the dinner fork on the outside!! I saw my salad sitting right next to my dinner plate and I thought...what??? Why isn't the salad fork on the outside? So, of course, I sat there confused until I watched the Ambassador pick up her dinner fork and dig into her Lasagna. So, I did the same. I ate the Lasagna first. Strange. I mentioned this dilemma to someone at Post and they informed me that in Europe, they serve the salad after the main course, so that's why they place the dinner fork on the outside so you use it first. However, this person also told me that that rule only applies if you don't actually see the salad on the table...clearly a violation because the salad was sitting right there! This person also added that European style table-settings should only be used in Europe, and not in Africa. But of course someone else stated that the Ambassador can do whatever she wants and that's the prevailing rule! Thank you Emily Post. Cheers! Becky

1 comment:

Tom said...

Forks, spoons, knives, oh my.. I am sure you will be invited to many more dinners like this and now you know there are different ways for different cultures. It was very smart of you to wait for the hostess to go first and follow her lead. I am glad you where able to enjoy an old home type meal.