I spent all of yesterday — from 9am till 6pm + transportation — in a workshop with an expert team coming from all over the world on the project that’s been keeping me busy in recent weeks. The workshop was taking place in a town right near Paris — although not in Paris, which shook a few attendees — in a conference center designed for that sort of thing — which kind of justifies not having the event in Paris. Sort of.
A bunch of us had dinner the day before — inside Paris, next to the Champs-Elysées even: no demonstrators around on a Monday night… — and I chatted with a couple of colleagues from India, who both happened to be vegetarian, and both teetotallers too. I’ve always know I have an Indian side. As we were discussing the occasionally difficult plight of vegetarians in France — compared to India, and Berlin with its 80% vegan population* — we ordered pizza and pasta in an Italian restaurant, the only cuisine in Europe that has enough veggie options to please everyone. Except those annoying people with gluten intolerance.
The day of the workshop, as we broke for lunch after a rather packed morning — when a slide actually contains things, it takes effort ; then multiply it by dozens — we all headed to the first floor, where we were told the restaurant was. And it operated on a self service mode, which was just as well as some people only took starters, others main courses, some dessert… I took the combo, because I’m human.
One thing that intrigued me, though, as I was looking at the printed-out menu, was the marinated ostrich delicacy that was apparently offered. I deduced which plate that line was referring to based solely on appearance — it ain’t xenophobia if we’re talking inanimate, or in that case dead, objects — and meticulously avoided touching it.
As I was sitting at a table with 2 Brits, a Norwegian guy, a Canadian girl and a Brazilian, the Canadian went:
Canadian: Did you guys try the ostrich?
Brit #1: Oh, no…
Brit #2: They had ostrich?!
Norwegian: I didn’t have starters.
Brazilian: What’s an ostrich?
Me: It’s a very common meal in France.
Brit #1: It’ can’t be…
Brit #2: Is it?!
Norwegian: I don’t do hunting…
Canadian: I had no idea…
Brazilian: What’s an ostrich?!
I had to tell them the truth: I don’t know what an ostrich is.
* Personal estimate based on guess work.