Over coming the language barrier with alcohol and food.

I was told that the older generation in the Czech Republic very rarely introduce themselves to the younger crowd, with the use of their first name. When the father of my girlfriend took my hand in a warm embrace that is exactly what he did. I was to call him Vasek, not Pan Palecek, (Mr Palecek) which I had been for warned to call him. With his free left hand he thrust at me a shot of 60% slivovice, a Czech spirit made from nuts, fruit or honey.

As I am not a big drinker of shots due to the fact that they inhibit my memory, this particular evening I was in need of a pick me up. All fear of meeting my in-laws quickly evaporated along with my ability to speak. On shot number three I sat smiling like a child as questions were translated through to me, I did my best to answer without giggling drunkenly.

Pani Paleckova (Mrs Paleckova) sat smiling at me offering Czech treats of all descriptions. I had already sampled her baking through a selection of biscuits brought to me at Christmas time last year. This time I was in for a treat as she served Goulash, (Czech cuisine) that she had cooked for six hours that day. The smell in the house was enough to make your mouth water.

There seemed to be no problem to the fact that I can’t speak Czech, (apart from pleasantries), and my new in-laws speak no English. I couldn’t spend the whole evening saying prosim and dekuji (please and thank you) so instead drank the offered shots of home brewed honey slivovice and nodded occasionally.

I left with an Anglicko Cesky dictionary and sacks full of sweets.


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