Sometimes people have asked me if I get lonely while traveling by myself. The answer is yes, but it is seldom. By traveling alone, I am forced to strike up conversations and meet people and I have some fond memories by doing so. Once was in Amsterdam.
I was waiting to be seated at a very busy restaurant – the oldest pancake house in Amsterdam. I was standing in line behind a woman named Ann and her daughter and son who were about 9 and 11 years old. The restaurant was crowded, not one seat was available.
After waiting about 10 minutes a woman lumbered down the narrow stairs of the second floor and declare loudly, “What a terrible experience, that is the worst food I have ever eaten in my life.” She wanted to be sure that everyone in line heard heard her, and I might have been inclined to believe her had she not used all of those phrases with those particular vocabulary words; terrible, worst food, ever eaten, in her life.
To me, terrible is a word used to describe a mudslide that wipes out a village. To me, the worst food ever eaten would be something like Balut . (wikipedia-A fertilized chicken or duck egg is buried in the ground for a week, after which the egg — containing a half-formed fowl — is soft-boiled. Balut is eaten out of the shell with a spoon; there is no need to worry about choking, as the bones and feathers are only partially formed.
credit to Inside a Balut – Embryo and Yolk –
How can any pancake at all be the worst food ever eaten? It is a pancake. It may be overcooked or undercooked, but the worst food ever eaten? Obviously, she has never had any of my cooking. I have made plenty of things that didn’t come out right, and I am confident there is more than one that was much worse than a pancake, like the time the garlic bread caught on fire while baking in the oven – when I had first time guests, no less.
This unhappy woman was likely a disappointed person where nothing in her life would be satisfactory. If this was the worst food she ever had, my cooking would probably be the death of her.
But, kids don’t know that. When they hear someone say it is the worst food they have ever had, kids may believe it. So, I started to speaking to this family, partially to show solidarity with others who had picked this restaurant out of a tourist guidebook, not knowing what to expect, and because I heard them speak American English to each other.
This family had been standing in line for over 20 minutes, it was raining outside, the kids were hungry and getting grumpy, and were bored just standing around. The mom and kids had spent the last few days cooped up together and the father who was supposed to have joined them, was delayed by several days at work. The kids were still getting along ok, but each wanted to do different things. They were bored with each other, and it seemed to me that they all were getting tired of each other’s company.
When one table opened up for four people, the mother asked if I would like to join the family for lunch. I happily said yes. Again, by traveling alone, opportunities arise that would not have happened if I had been with others.
The mom was a responsible adult and recommended to her kids that they get savory pancakes, while I got to be the exotic friend who was not only traveling around the world on my own, but ordered pancakes with ice cream and whipped cream on top – for lunch.
Of course, we shared the pancakes, and I must admit that the savory pancakes they ordered were so good, we actually finished eating them first.
It was fun to spend lunch with a family and get to be the exotic friend who added excitemeent due to my latest adventure. I was able to talk about hiking on a glacier, and riding Icelandic horses and share photos with the kids. And my adventure became their adventure.