This was a time consuming prompt, since I had to write page one and two of my biography first, so I could finally make it to page three (yeah right).
….so I remember my first years here in the United States of America very well, most of all the fight with the new language I was suppose to use 24/7. I was 23 years old, fluent in a few languages and English wasn’t one of them. I went to college and understood only 50% of what they were saying, remarkably enough, that still made me one of the best students in class. Maybe that was the whole secret to successful learning in the first place. Learn what is needed and disregard the rest, what is about 50% of what you hear.
Learning a language is actually not that hard, if you sit down and learn word after word, until you remember it even in your sleep. But there are some words and meanings, that are really hard to learn, ordering food is one of them.
You can learn the words for the ingredients, like “beef”, “egg” or “potato”, but you don’t find the name for the dishes in any dictionary. So, ordering food was always an adventure for me. My husband tried to help me at first, until I told him not to. I guess I got tired of eating what he thought I would might like. 🙂
One day we went to a different restaurant, it was one of these old fashioned Diners they had way back then and I couldn’t wait to order my meal. I didn’t want a burger or spaghetti’s, no this time I was going to be adventurous. I would order something new and I would order it all by myself.
I looked at the menu and it threw some challenges on me. I didn’t have my dictionary with me, so I solely relied on my memory. I read it slowly and translated in my head. Then I saw it “Chicken fried Steak”. Oh my Gosh, a meat platter, that sounded good. I haven’t had one of these since a very long time.
The waitress came and I was first to give the order.
I sat up proud and ordered “the meat platter”.
She looked at me funny and I repeated “I want to order the meat platter, please”.
She looked at me rather annoyed “We don’t have a meat platter”.
I showed her the menu and pointed to the chicken fried steak. “There it is, the chicken and the steak, please”.
My husband wanted to say something and I just gave him the look…I wanted to do this on my own.
The waitress facial impression changed, she looked at me with pity “Honey it’s a steak, but it’s fried like a chicken.”
“Then why don’t you just call it a fried steak?” This was more complicated than I thought it would be. I was convinced she just tried to cheat me out of the chicken and I wouldn’t settle for it.
“What do you call a fried chicken then?” “Steak fried chicken”. I swear to God, some things in this language just don’t ad up.
That day I learned a few things about fried food:
a) It’s not always what I think it was.
b) They have some screwed up names for their food.
Friends invited us for breakfast months later and we met downtown at a nice place. We ordered coffee and studied the menu. They had a wide variety of food and I couldn’t wait…we all were out the night before and I felt hungover and hungry.
It was my first American breakfast away from home, were we always just had cereals. Although we were poor students and eating out was a special treat.
I knew what I wanted, I wanted the “Cowboy Breakfast“. A chicken fried steak with gravy, eggs, biscuit and potatoes.
The waitress came and it was my turn to order my food “I want the Cowboy breakfast, please.”
“How do you want your eggs Sweetie?”
“Fried please” oh that sounded good and would probably settle my icky stomach from the night before.
“How do you want you eggs fried”
I just looked at her. So far it was easy, but what does she mean with “how do want your eggs fried”. I mean there is only one way to fry an egg where I come from, you crack the egg and fry it in a pan. Is that what she wants me to say “fried in a pan, please”.
Ordering food in this country is some tricky business. I remembered the “meat platter” story. A steak fried like a chicken, there was my solution. I knew what she wanted to hear.
I sat up tall and said “I want my eggs fried like sausage please”.
She looked at me funny, my husband and our friends exploded with laughter. This story comes up all the time when we go out for breakfast and I am afraid they will tell it one day at my memorial service.
-End of page 3-
Write page three of your autobiography.