“When in Rome, do as the Romans” is often quoted to mean adapt and follow those around you. I regret that there are many times when I did not follow but forged ahead resulting in some awkward outcomes.
One of my embarrassing experience lead completely by my ego showing off, happened during my third summer in Spain. I had decided to take my boyfriend, his oldest brother and his mother to a very beautiful and sophisticated restaurant. I was excited to be able to sit with who were now the matriarch and patriarch of my boyfriend’s family.
The waiter placed a few small porrons (photo of porron) on our table – Somehow my brain flashed a memory of another restaurant where they gave complimentary shots of liqueur in little porron. My friend pointed to the porrons and I grabbed one of them, and lifted it up, ensuring I was able to aim well enough to pour right into my mouth. A millisecond later, I detected a strong smell of vinegar as the liquid hit my throat. VINEGAR! Not liqueur!
The brain is a complicated organ, and mine kicked into full gear and I was able to put down the porron, swallow without cough, hold back the tears and hold myself high as I smiled and wiped the corners of my mouth.
Fortunately, once the shock wore off on my guests’ and the waiter’s faces, we continued on with the dinner and that story became the favorite story of my guests.
If I had waited before assuming what should happen next, I would have learned from observing the others.
So tidbit of advice… If you are in a new location, or culture, take some time to observe those around you. Notice the details, such as how they eat (with or without utensils, left or right hand), in a group do they toast? This will provide you with examples to observe.
You are a guest in these fine people’s home, town, city, family or group. How blessed are we to travel to new locations and be able to learn new ways, new approaches, and new traditions. Always remember “When in Rome…”
Always remember “When in Rome…”
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