No matter how much you travel you can’t help but bring your cultural bias with you. I don’t mean bias as in mine is better than yours, I mean that the footprint of your own culture is always the basis of what you think.
Today we went out for lunch. As is quite common of us here in Europe, we headed for a local pizza place. There is nothing quite like the thin crust and REAL tomato taste of a pizza in Italy and the French actually can do a nice one too. Today, it is Corsica so we knew we would not be disappointed.
Up in the corner of the menu was a “special”, a Corsican pizza. My French is not too bad but I couldn’t understand some of the items listed on the pie. So, rather than ask the server, I searched the menu to see if I could find the same words on other areas of the menu and then figure it out. Sure enough, I found the words listed under the charcuterie plate which is an assortment of meats. I didn’t know exactly what meats but since Corsica is known for their sausages I figured we were great on that one. Ok, so it’s a meat lovers pizza, good to go.
Below the Corsican special pizza a second item was listed, moule du la biere Pietra. I know the word for beer in French and that Pietra is a lovely Corsican beer brewed to traditional and artisanal methods with malts, hops and chestnuts and no chemical additives. So here is where my American culture threw me off course. Since both items were listed in the box and one was a pizza and the other one some kind of beer, my brain just assumed that a moule must be a big pitcher of beer! So we ordered one of each, we’ll split the pizza and the beer (typical of Americans again to split).
So I did the talking and told her we’d like the pizza and the beer. Then she looked over to Ridlon and asked if he wanted anything to drink. Odd, I thought, she thinks I’m going to drink the entire pitcher of beer?
After a bit out came the pizza complete with the entire charcuterie and she placed it before me. Then out came…..the beer???? No, a huge tureen and a plate of potatoes… what??? Then she lifted the lid to proudly show us the huge bucket of MUSSELS.
Then it hit us both. Of course! Moules is the French word for mussels that were obviously cooked in the lovely Pietra beer. Then we just laughed. Our cultural bias had come through loud and clear. If it’s a pizza it must be a pitcher of beer… I looked at Ridlon and said, “What were we thinking?” When have you EVER seen Europeans drink beer from a pitcher?? Duh??? And just because the items are listed together in the corner of the menu does not mean they are meant to go together! No wonder she asked Ridlon if he wanted something to drink with his mussels.
We sheepishly sent the mussels back to the kitchen and asked the server to bring us two pressions, which are draft beers. We happily split our pizza and sipped our artisanal beer with chestnuts.
Just goes to show you that no matter how much you travel, you still catch yourself dragging your background with you and looking at life through the lenses of your upbringing. There is wisdom in walking a mile in someone else’s shoes or at least understanding that pizza does not always go with beer. Sometimes it goes with mussels.
To Your Adventures!