The day I almost cried over toothpicks

Those who follow our blog know that usually one in seven days ends up in tears for me. Don’t feel too bad……in comparing notes with new ex-patriate haus-frau peers, this is about par for the course, so I feel like I am doing quite well!

I’ll preface this story with the comment that we really really love our new apartment. Settling in is going great! We promise to post pictures soon. And, one of the best things about our apartment is that it is a 8 minute walk to beautiful Old Town, the high-walled city. Hmm….one might have realized that its quite a hike to get up to to our apartment based on its elevation with a spot where medieval warriors built their town to defend it from attacks. But this had not quite occurred to me until this week, when five-grocery-trips-in-two-days later, I feel like I have quads and hamstrings of steel from carrying all our groceries up these hills from the Co-ops and Migros down on lake level. Plus, I am coming down with a cold so the energy isn’t as strong as it usually is.

Things I learned from this:
-Four bottles of wine is too many. Maybe every trip, grab one. Not four. Hiking uphill with a third of a case of wine is not a good idea.
-Remember your list. In passing the store, I always get the idea that I should just duck in and pick up the groceries. But, with my memory, I always forget to bring the list which results in more trips!
-Just expect to get some things wrong. I happily discovered goat cheese the other day and learned that the goat on the front must mean goat cheese. “Score!”, I thought…. I love goat cheese in salads which I happen to eat most days for lunch. The second time, I bought some more cheese with a goat on the front for my spring salads and realized I got some kind of gooey cheese, similar to brie. Whoops! This also happened today when I trammed 30 minutes out to the one hardware store and meant to get matches to start enjoying our candles and I got some kind of camping sticks??

The wrong cheese and wrong matches purchased earlier in the week….



Back to the story. I am quite excited that the women’s club had their spring luncheon planned for tomorrow. I volunteered to bring my friend Noelle’s caprese bites (a cherry tomato, mozzarella ball, and basil on a toothpick, doused in olive oil & balsamic vinegar with fresh ground pepper) since it was delicious, but easy. Time is limited with the settling-in.

At the second grocery trip yesterday, I remembered to grab the tomatoes. Luckily, we have basil now growing on the porch, so I had that. But I forgot the mozzarella. And forgot it the third and fourth time. However, today, I was out for a meeting, I grabbed it (fifth trip).

Since tomorrow morning was full of back-to-back errands & activities already, I settled in to make dinner and prep my delicious app.

So, I pulled out everything to assemble and realized……no toothpicks. Toothpicks are something I always had on hand so never thought of this.

I started to feel familiar culture shock frustration set in….the sinking feeling….“Why can’t this just be easy?”…..“Curses, why didn’t I pack my $%^^ toothpicks in the shipment??”…… “What is the French word for toothpick anyway?”

But this time, I turned it around. I had a glass of wine (thanks to one of the four bottles I had bought yesterday) and made myself dinner (Gabe is gone all week in Brussels, so solo).

Afterwards, I walked down to the Migros and started to look all over the store. They don’t really have a cocktail / mixer aisle, which is where they would be at home. So, I started walking down every aisle. Then, all of a sudden, the lights started flashing and went off. Darkness. A French voice came on saying something that I imagine was “We are closing….get out now!”. I scrambled around the store rushing to find the coveted toothpicks. People were rushing to the cashiers.

However, much to my delight, I found skewers and considered just putting them on the ends of those. But finally, much did my happy eyes find, but below were the toothpicks! If you are wondering, their name in French is – cure dent en bois!

So, I headed home and successfully made my appetizer, as seen below displayed in lovely new Rubbermaid Glass container.

Whew….disaster averted. Let this be known as the day I almost cried over toothpicks but turned it around. Maybe wine can cure all culture shock?

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4 thoughts on “The day I almost cried over toothpicks

  1. Pa always said – from the time he was stationed in San Fran during the war – that the girls there had the greatest legs because of all the hills there! A silver lining?

  2. I did the goat cheese thing a couple weeks ago too!  Huge disappointment.  😦  I came close to a breakdown too.  The only type of goat cheese I know… is not brie-like.

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