Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
-
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

food and fun

With the business day coming to a close it was time for food and fellowship. Our Director for European Sales, Charles Spyra, is a US native who is living here in the UK. He arranged a reservation for 14 at the London Street Brasserie. I'm not sure what a Brasserie is, but the food was incredible.
http://www.londonstbrasserie.co.uk/map.html

It was a short walk from the hotel through town to the restaurant, so we left the hotel at 7:10 for a 7:00 reservation. Don't ask.

During large dinners, I get the impression that people from former eastern bloc nations like to drink and like to toast… to everything. Apparently Romanians are no exception. Col. Crasan, the ranking member of the 9 person Romanian contingent would from time to time during dinner say any one of many traditional Romanian phrases that really have no direct translation into English, due to an implied sarcastic intent or because of a play on words that loses its meaning outside of the native language. Each time, our Dealer, Laurentiu, would attempt to translate. One such phrase was "Batura i temelie, mancharea i fudulie!" (I don’t have the keyboard for the proper spelling but this is roughly how it sounds) which translates roughly to "The drink is the necessity, the food is just for showing off". The format for the night was roughly, toast eat, toast, eat, eat, toast, laugh, toast, eat… you get the picture. They know that's not the way it happens everywhere, and as we poked fun at them for all their toasting, they made fun of the Russians who are apparently even worse…

Col Crasan happened to be sitting at the head of the table. About halfway through the meal someone mentioned jokingly that this was the seating position of the king. Charles then suggested that Pete, who sat at the opposite end of the table, must be the queen. Then, apparently forgetting the he was in Britain, in a restaurant full of Brits, Charles got in on the toasting act and raised his glass in mock toast to Pete, "To the queen!" At that instant the adjacent tables, comprised primarily of locals who were of course not privy to our joke, raised their glasses and exclaimed "To the Queen!" then some of them actually broke out in song with "God Save the Queen". Our table, composed of entirely non-English, did an admirable job of controlling their laughter so as to not cause a brawl in the middle of the restaurant. Chuck later admitted that he had never actually said that out loud in public before. It’s probably safe to say that he will not be doing it again.

All in all it was a great time, And I really enjoyed getting to know, on such an intimate level, a culture which most Americans will never experience. Naruk!

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