One of the the funny things that happens to me on a regular basis is the awkward blank stare when we have guests over for dinner and I don’t serve them. In Swiss culture, it’s polite to serve your guests. You know, to dish up their plate for them, to refill their drinks, etc. As an American, I find this rude. What if they don’t like the food? What if they are allergic to something, or have dietary troubles. To me, dishing us another person’s plate is presumptuous. So I don’t. When we have guests I put all of the dishes on the table and tell them to help themselves. There is always a few seconds of blank stares. Then, more often than not, I reach for a spoon and begin to load my own plate. This results in another moment of eye-popping followed by a few seconds of mental processing. You can see it on their faces. Sometimes there is quick glance in the direction of my husband… probably so make sure that he is in support of my unconventional behaviour. He’s busy filling his own plate by this time, so, with a nervous hand, they reach for a spoon!
A few months back we had a very elderly couple over, and I asked my husband to please serve them, because I wasn’t sure if they could handle my impolite ways of hosing a meal. He laughed, hugs me, and agreed to my request. I feel lucky to have a spouse that is so relaxed and supportive. Often he will comment briefly as we sit down, “This is an international home, we eat American style, help yourself.” This is much nicer than what is usually going through my head… “Dish up your own damm food!” 😉