Last night I attended a Lithuanian friend’s birthday party. She recently spent two weeks doing archival research in London, so the theme of her party was “Great Britain.” My contributions — Cadbury’s chocolates and a bottle of real English cider, produced in Birmingham, which I found in a local grocery store. We ate shepherd’s pie and drank gin and tonics and listened to British rock music (with some American and Lithuanian music in the mix). I don’t know if this is how the average Brit would celebrate a birthday, but the Lithuanians and lone American felt we were doing quite well at things British.
Mostly importantly, I brought to the party a knowledge of deep fat frying. Growing up in the American South, I spent years watching my grandmother fry chicken and shrimp. While I have rarely fried foods in this way, I at least have a passing experience of how to do it. My friend was determined to serve fish and chips at her party. She had even purchased a deep fat fryer for the occasion. Despite reading up on the internet, she was concerned that she didn’t really know how to fry fish and chips. So I strapped on an apron, told her to add more flour to the batter, and got to work. The chips were easy because she had bags of pre-cut fries. I was quite pleased with how the fried fish turned out — and the guests seemed to be also since they ate them all. So if the Ph.D. job market continues to be horrible, I guess I can move into the fast food industry.
I tried to convince them that, if this was a British party, everyone should speak English with me. But instead, I had an evening of Lithuanian immersion with only a few English-speaking breaks — good language practice!