My friend Madi and I got invited to a barbeque at our friend Xavier’s house in Eze, about a 15 minute drive from Nice. I was really excited, imagining the kind of food at an American barbeque: hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, coleslaw, potato salad, chips, beer, etc. This was absolutely nothing like that. Firstly, the culture around the invitation itself was different. For example, I wanted more of my friends to come, but our friend Xavier told me only Madi and I could attend as there were already 10 others going. With my American glasses on, this seemed a little strange—the more the merrier at a barbeque, right? Reflecting on this, I think it has to do with the peach vs coconut complex. It is often said that Americans are like peaches—sweet on the inside but a pit in the middle—and the French are like coconuts—tough on the outside, yet sweet at the core. French friends are a little tougher to earn than American friends, but some would say the connections run deeper. Thus, for Xavier, this was an intimate gathering to be shared with friends. Additionally, I understood the exclusivity surrounding the event more when I saw the food.
Instead of a serve-yourself barbeque with all the food I was imagining, I was greeted firstly with an appetizer of bread and pâté. Then, Xavier cooked an amazing steak and grilled potatoes with onions for everyone, then placed the plates in front of each of us. For desert, we were served a mixed fruit bowl and bread with hot cheese. Then, as is custom at French meals, we were given espresso. It was all very formal and planned out, each dish chosen and presented very carefully. It seemed so warm and reminiscent of home to me, yet so very foreign simultaneously.
The only similarity the event had to the American version of a barbeque was that it was outside. It’s so funny to me that cultural differences can be so evidently seen in something as trivial as a barbeque. Although it was completely contrary to what I was expecting, I felt so honored to be apart of a friend group in a completely other country. This small get-together has reminded me how deeply cultural assumptions affect my every-day life and more importantly, how lucky I am to be able to analyze and understand them on a deeper level by being able to juxtapose them with those of France.
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<p>I'm Brooklyn Kyrouac, a twenty year old junior who is extremely excited to go to Nice. I love to read and hang out with my friends. I'm a definite "yes" girl, and I take every opportunity that comes my way. A fun fact is that one of my thumbs is shorter than the other one.</p>