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A Community Affair August 15, 2011

Posted by rachaelcopeland in Travel Log.
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There is one aspect of human nature that binds all human beings together in a sense of community. Religion? There are hundreds. Kindness? That is relative. No, the thing that fulfills the homo sapien’s desire for community fellowship is food. Weird, right? But think about it: everyone eats. Most people generally enjoy it. It is necessary, acceptable in public, and oftentimes social.
Have you ever been to a family event or a Superbowl party that had no food? When you think of visiting your grandmother’s house, what are some of your best memories based around. Needless to say, I enjoy food, but not just any kind. I like great food at even better prices.
During my travels, I have observed how food brings people together within different cultures and also within my travel group. In Germany, they prefer large dining halls with picnic-like tables that people share with complete strangers, and maybe even a band.

The Hofbrau House in Munich.

The French enjoy outdoor cafes where they can sit down with two or three close friends and discuss, ever so eloquently, current events, art, etc. In Oxford (well, all of the British Isles for that matter), they want nothing more than a local, and often historic, pub at which they can enjoy a pint with their closest blokes.

Each one of the aforementioned cultures is incredibly different in all other aspects, but you notice that they all tie a sense of camaraderie around their meals. I love this concept and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the food culture of each nation.
Of course, I had many incredible meals on this trip. However, there are four that, more than anything, are prominent in my mind. In order of greatness (and consequently the four best meals I have had in my life) are as follows:

1. Prague (Praha), Czech Republic: beef in a cream sauce with cranberries and bread dumplings. (It may have helped that I was with my best friend at the oldest vineyard in the Czech Republic overlooking the entire city from a table on an elegant patio, but that’s besides the point).

First Place

2. Florence (Firenze), Italy: gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with bits of pecans.

Second Place

3. Greenwich, England: Sunday roast (lamb shank with potatoes, broccoli, and carrots in a delicious broth sauce with Yorkshire pudding).

Third Place

4. Paris, France: French onion soup (how appropriate) with escargot.

Fourth Place

I wish I could describe how delicious each of these were. However, what was more important was the situation in which these particular meals took place. I was always surrounded by the people I love most, laughing, smiling, and reminiscing throughout the entire meal. So when someone tells you that they had a fantastic meal, they hardly mean just the food. The environment, the company, and the memories made are so much more significant. Food just happens to bring us together. Building friendships over a meal keeps us together forever.

My closest friends from the trip. Here we are in Munich. I am so fortunate to have the privilege to travel with them!

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