Blogger Leonardo and his friends try to make sense out of their cultural diversity during dinner.
My head’s dizzy as I take the last of the spiral steps. The lungs plead for air. ‘Damn you, broken elevator’. I catch my breath; finally manage to stand straight. The sign in front reads ‘13A’ in black letters, Century font. In Wageningen, that’s as close to home as you’ll get.
The handle sticks when I turn it. Grey, narrow walls hold 13 yellow doors. All closed. At corridor’s end, a dim right triangle peaks out from the 14th. I hear yapping sounds in the kitchen: it’s corridor-dinner night.
I walk into what I imagine the first world food fight would look like. The Italian mixes carbonara; the Chinese wraps jiaozis; the Spanish cooks paella. Guess I should pull my weight: the Mexican fries flautas. You may love or loath them, feel grossed out by their texture, eat with your hands or use the fork, enjoy their spiciness or shed a tear with its burning sensation. Every dish is as surprising as the one before.
‘Are there any newbies in the house?’ asks the Canadian. The Ethiopians are here! Tradition demands a toast of Uganda’s fine spirits. The plastic bag labeled Kasapak Alomo. Sorry girls, corridor rules weren’t meant to be broken. ‘Would you like whiskey, bitter or cherry flavor?’ Don’t overthink it, you’ll hate them all the same.
Time for dessert, the Croatian made palacinkes. First dish she ever cooked; we all feel proud. The Colombian frowns with the first bite. She’s thinking what we all are: ‘is the rawness a cultural trait, or did she messed up?’ My money’s on the latter. Yet, we smile and say ‘sure, I would love some more’. Before you know it, the whole platter’s gone.
The Dutch brought zoethout liquor. ‘How can they drink that stuff?’ The dense, dark liquid makes me doubt whether this is a party, or a hospital. Perfect! It’s a match for a game of mentirosa: the looser takes a drink.
‘You didn’t cook anything, again?’ the Romanian’s defied. ‘I brought the beer!’ he shouts in defense. That, we can all understand. Cheers, proost, salud, zivjeli! Clinking bottles need no translation.