Monday, August 17, 2009

Sharing Food with Strangers

On three occasions over the past week, I have found myself entertaining strangers and enjoying their company. The only thing in common among these three social interactions was the grilled salmon we served.

Last week my sister-in-law was in town as a tourist with 5 friends from Detroit. We invited all 6 of them over to dinner. The biggest challenge was actually talking them through how to get here from Capitol Heights, Maryland. After days of cafeteria food and dragging through museums, they were more than ready for a home-cooked meal. I was just as comfortable talking to the people I had met for the first time as I was talking to my relative.

Last night my friend Deborah and her husband came over for dinner prior to our book club meeting. They brought with them an old friend who was the widow of someone Deborah had gone to med school with. Within a short time, I felt as if I had known her for years. If I ever go to LA, I will definitely try to see her.

Today was the most unusual get-together. I had met Sabine, a young German woman, at meditation on Wednesday night. She was staying with a fellow meditator while she pursued all aspects of the Holocaust during her several-week visit. She is not Jewish, but as a student of German history, she has dedicated her current life to working at Holocaust memorials and educating children about this grim part of Germany’s past.

She expressed an interest in meeting Jews who had lived in Germany before or during WWII and managed to survive. I arranged a lunch-time get-together with two extremely interesting women from Temple Micah. We were all transformed as we listened to the stories of how their families had managed to escape and the problems they faced when they started their lives over in this country. The conversation was a mix of German and English, as Sabine spoke in her almost flawless English, but encouraged the older women to draw upon their German from so long ago.

I was struck by how even a brief encounter can leave such a lasting impression. I also wondered what the chances were that I would actually ever see any of these persons again.

In all three meals, there was no disagreement with the fact that my husband really knows how to grill fish! Even the cold leftover salmon served at today’s luncheon was delicious.


Blogger Terry said...

What a wonderful get together of the German woman with the Holocaust survivors and how heartening to hear of Sabine's goals. We must all really hear from those who survived before they are all gone. Their lives are lessons that must not be forgotten. What a privilege for you to know them.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous lr said...

Your diverse life and awareness of opportunity propel you into bringing people together with astonishing results. You are the quintessential matchmaker.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Terry -- It was WIN-WIN all around the table. These people all came from German roots despite what happened.

LR -- It's probably fate that paths cross as they do. I can't claim much credit for any of this, only for buying the salmon!

11:24 PM  
Blogger bozoette said...

All of these encounters are proof of the old saying "A stranger is a friend you haven't met yet." Of course, excellent grilled salmon is a wonderful catalyst! ;-)

12:57 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Sharing food, breaking bread (and salmon) together is such a great way to get to know people. If my house ever comes together, I look forward to doing just that.

8:51 AM  

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