Do you remember any funny moments from your first visit to US?
Oh boy. Okay, so I originally came over to US with a group of 4 other students and 5 teachers, and after a short stop in Washington, DC, we split our time between Western Carolina University and Western Kentucky University. At some point early on we were introduced to some faculty members, and we were taken to one of their houses for lunch. This was one of our first exposures to the actual American food and people
So we are sitting in this van and it veers off the highway down a curvy road into woods. And then the woods open up and here is a enormous gorgeous house. We are all staring googly-eyed. As the van comes to a stop, our head teacher tells us, “This is a private residence and the man who owns it invited us here for lunch. You will mind your manners.”
To a Southern Russian, that means you eat what’s in front of you, and you eat all of it, and you compliment it.
So we disembark, and we are led into this massive kitchen. Most of us lived in apartments, and I lived in a very old reed house, that used to be teacher’s set of rooms in 1903 when it was built. We had 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 sink per house, and I don’t even want to explain the set up to you, because your hair will fall out. You can fit a toilet into a small shower stall if you have to. Let’s leave it at that.
So the hostess serves us a platter of these beautiful sandwiches. Looking back at it, it was probably a prepared platter from a grocery store. Someone is asking what’s in the sandwich and we are told turkey.
All of us check out pocket dictionaries, because that’s not a word any of us are familiar with. Aha. Turkey. Indiuk.
The celebratory roasted bird in our area is usually duck, but all of us are familiar with turkey, all of us had it before at New Year’s or other holidays. We are totally game.
So I take a sandwich and I bite into it and… it tastes like cardboard. I am chewing it. Here is some lettuce, some tomato, some sort of bread that tastes sweet like cake, and between all that, there is cardboard.
I am looking around and the four other guys all stopped chewing. We’re looking at each other. German (his actual name) discreetly lifts the top off his sandwich and we see this.
What the hell is this? This is not delicious roasted turkey. It looks like paper. It tastes like paper. There is no recognizable poultry texture in it. There is no flavor.
One of the boys quietly whispers, “Maybe it’s pulp.”
Keep in mind that a few weeks ago we have all watched a documentary on how Russian bologna made, and apparently at that time they added something called “pulp filler” which would “add fiber.” We all had a long discussion about it in class and all of us agreed that it was likely paper pulp.
We are staring at each other. One of the teachers notices that we are not eating and she bears down on us like a CRRC, one of those badass inflatable boats that delivers armed marines to shores. She turns so the hosts can’t see her face and squeezes words through her teeth. “Eat every last bit of it and pretend you like it.”
The youngest of the boys whispers, “But it’s paper.”
So we ate the sandwiches and said thank you. And the hostess was very happy and told us that if we wanted seconds, there was plenty, and then all of us decided to go outside to look at the pretty woods.
And that’s my American turkey story.