A Cuisine Unlike Any Other

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

When Francine hears that her friend, Nathan (who is from the United States), and his family are coming back to London, she is obviously pleased. But when her mother adds that she invited them for dinner, she becomes nervous because of the kind of food that may be served. Nathan may not like some of the British cuisine Francine's family cooks on a daily basis. Will this hurt their friendship?

It was at the age of eleven when I fell in love with an exchange student from North America, specifically the United States. He had a decent build (so he was not skinny nor rotund), he always dressed in t-shirts my parents would disapprove of (though I found them quite sexy), and his buzz cut hair is the perfect colour of blond.

I told my parents about Nathan, the boy in question, and they seemed really pleased about him based on what I explained about his physical and emotional features. The only part I left out was my infatuation with him.

A few weeks after I first realised my crush on him, Nathan started to find an interest in me; at least that’s how I saw it. Although I expected this, I was actually surprised that any boy would show an interest in me, mainly because his extremely contrasted with mine. Although I had grown taller since middle school, most of my deficiencies remained now that I’m a teenager; I am incredibly skinny; I have to wear glasses that make my eyes hideously humongous, and my hair is much longer than most girls my age. Also, I have this weird fascination to wear wellies with miniskirts. (Don’t ask why.)

Over the next couple years, Nathan and I became very good friends; so I was naturally upset when he had to leave London with his family to go back to the States.

A few months after I turned sixteen, my mother walked in my bedroom and informed me of a pleasant surprise: Nathan’s family is coming back to London and will be moving there for good. With that information sinking in, Mum told me that she invited Nathan and his family over for dinner tonight.

That made my stomach jump. Ever since me and Nathan became friends, I researched American lifestyle. One of the more intriguing facts is their dining habits and their cuisines. I didn’t mind it at first, but when Mum told me of the surprise supper, I had a gut feeling that it was going to be a disaster. What will his family think when they learn of the foods my father prepared? It would be food foreign to Nathan, which could hurt our friendship.

At around six-thirty this evening, the doorbell rang. Mum answered the door whilst I trod right behind her. From the look on Nathan’s face, I could tell he wasn’t on board with this either.

As soon as my mother and his parents walked into the kitchen, Nathan and I walked over to the couch in our foyer and sat. Neither of us said a word for a solid minute.

Nathan was the first to break this silence. “It’s very nice to see ya again, Francine,” he said to me.

“And same to you, Nathan” I replied rather meekly. “What made you return to England?”

“After I returned to the U.S., I felt a little… empty inside. Like somethin’ in my life was missing.” After he says this, I saw him turn away for a moment. “It wasn’t until two years after I moved back home that what I was missing… was you. By the way, you got a nice house.”

“Why, thank you. My father’s a carpenter and he… Oh, wait a minute! You really missed me?” I was both flattered and a bit surprised (though I shouldn’t have been) for him to say that I was missing in the last three years in his American life.

“Of course. You’re like a sister to me. Like the sister I never had,” Nathan replied. “Plus, you’re very pretty."

I blushed so hard my cheeks were coloured a deep rosy red. After about five more minutes of casual conversation, Mum poked her head from the kitchen doorway and cheerfully announced, “Suppertime!” At that, me and Nathan walked straight to the table; holding hands, I might add.

When I entered the kitchen, I was greeted by a weird surprise: I saw an abundance of food that does not, to my knowledge, commonly get served in any dinner in England. I'm talking about chicken wings, cauliflower, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes (in place of my family's usual yams), and, most interestingly, cranberry sauce. The table might as well have been decorated for the American holiday Thanksgiving.

Nathan seemed more surprised than I was, since he believed my family wouldn't know about the American palate.

After we all said grace, I felt a little nervous, since I haven't tasted at least half of what was on that table. But being one who enjoys trying new things, I took a wing, tore off some meat, put it in my mouth, and felt relieved that it tasted delicious.

In fact, the rest of the food was just as appetizing; not just to me, but to my parents as well. Nathan and his parents cleaned off their plates first, as expected, since we Brits are more prim and proper when it comes to eating, but I digress.

After dinner came dessert, which was a red velvet cake with strawberry frosting, my absolute favorite. After Dad handed out plates, Nathan looked at his piece of cake with uncertainty.

"Um, I don't think I've ever tried red velvet before," Nathan meekly said. "You sure it's good?"

"It's delicious," I said with a mouthful of cake. "Trust me."

With that said, I saw Nathan scoop up some cake with his fork and put it in his mouth. He soon had this calm, serene feeling that I had earlier. His reaction was just too priceless, and I could not resist kissing him on his cheek.

"Just so you know, Francine, I'm sitting right next to you on you left," said Mum, who, luckily, was the only one who saw me kissing Nathan's cheek. 

"Your mother, who held you as you learned to ride a bicycle."

'C'mon, Mum, it was just friendly," I replied before giving her a kiss on the cheek.

"Didn't feel too friendly to me," Nathan muttered playfully as he wiped his cheek with a napkin.

"Oh, come off it!" I replied in that same tone.

Pretty soon, it was time for Nathan and his parents to go home. His dad had to wake up early to find a job. Before Nathan joined them, we said our good-byes in a casual manner and (in a move which surprised me) Nathan kissed me on the cheek.

"Nathan!" I shouted with probably the dumbest smile plastered on my face.

"Friendly!" Nathan replied before joining his parents.

An hour before bedtime, Mum peeked into my room. I motioned for her that it was okay for her to enter. "You really like Nathan, don't you?" she queried.

"Nathan's a good friend,"" I replied, then quickly added, "but I don't like like him."
"Can I confess something?" Mum said before sitting at the foot of my bed. "If you wondered how I knew that his family returned to London, here it is; his mother and I ran into each other at the supermarket. I recognised her, but she didn't recognise me."

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Probably because it's been years since we saw each other. I had to remind her that you were Nathan's friend. That's when it came back to her."

"And what about the dinner?"

"Patience, Francine, I'm getting there. I asked if Nathan and her, along with her husband, could come over for a kind of 'welcome back' dinner. She agreed... on one condition."

"Yeah?"

"We had to cook food that we and they never had. If it wasn't for that, I hadn't been able to taste mac and cheese for the first time."

"And the red velvet cake?" 

"Turns out they never tried red velvet, which they revealed while we were talking in the kitchen before supper was served. It was by luck that I baked one for tonight.

"Are you trying to teach me a lesson?" I asked as I cocked my head curiously and playfully.

"Um... maybe, I don't know," Mum chuckled.

"And could that lesson be that no matter where you're from, you're bound to eat almost anything delicious whether prepared for it or not?"

"I guess that's a good way to put it." As the bed groaned, I noticed Mum has gotten up and is about to walk out. "Oh, one more thing," she said as she stopped herself at the doorway. "I've a feeling you haven't seen the last of Nathan. Good night dearie." She then turned off the light, leaving me to fall into the best sleep I've ever had in ages.


Submitted: August 18, 2015

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