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You Didn't Take a Starter?!

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A Burundian in a self-service restaurant with his French friend

The Experience

“Yesterday I was at a restaurant with a French colleague and friend who wanted to invite me to celebrate the beginning of the year. It was a self-service restaurant, so we each helped ourselves and then we met at the table. My friend then exclaimed: ‘But what have you done there Christian? You didn’t take a starter! We are in France, you HAVE to take a starter!’ We both laughed about it! 

I think he thought that my plate was too full, that the food was not balanced enough. There are many things that I have adopted easily in France but for everything that concerns food, it is difficult for me…

plate de spaguetti à la bolognaise
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

I had the opportunity to follow a training course with a nutritionist who gave us advice about food: eat less fat, at fixed hours of the day, vary the nutritional intake…. It’s not that I don’t want to… but, you see, in Burundi, most people eat only one meal a day, for cultural reasons but also for financial reasons. So if I eat 3 or 4 times a day, I don’t feel good at all, my body is not used to it! And then at home, we only eat starchy foods… So if I go shopping with the nutritionist’s list, I look for products everywhere in the aisles, everything is new to me, after a while it starts to make me anxious… and then I give up! And the icing on the cake is when she tells us that it might be a good idea to drink one glass of red wine per day. Now I really doubt this one and I think about my compatriots: the guy who can afford a glass of red wine every day, let me tell you, he is a millionaire!

I understand that these recommendations are based on French culture and that it’s normal. And I want to believe that there are advantages to eating less fat and losing a little weight when you are overweight. But I still wonder if these recommendations can have a universal value… “

Who's Telling the Story?

Christian comes from Burundi and has been living in France for several years after living in Rwanda and Mayotte. He is a former teacher and is curious about the cultural differences he encounters on his way.

Place : Vannes, France
Date : 2021

What do You Think?

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Has it ever been difficult for you to adapt to a specific aspect of another culture?

This experience questions you?

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