Friday, October 24, 2008

Enfin

For over six years, ever since my year abroad ended, I have been inviting my French host family to come visit me. They have never been the biggest fans of the U.S., and they always sort of laughed me off and told me that they'd come to the U.S. for my wedding and not before. That always drove me crazy, because it seemed like it would be years and years before I got married--if I ever did.

But now my wedding is almost here and so is my French family. They are in a plane RIGHT NOW, headed this direction. I have to say that I won't truly believe it until I see them in person, but I'm pretty sure it's true. They're really coming. I don't know if they even remember promising me that they would come for my wedding, but regardless, they are.

And I am DYING with excitement.

I've lost count of how many times I've been back to visit them. Their house is like my house--I am always welcome, and they even redecorated my old bedroom in purple--and I have been there in every season, traveled with them to visit grandparents and friends, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries with them. I've even been to visit them with my own parents. For me, it was worlds colliding--but it was great. And I like that my two families can place a face to a name when I talk about the other one.

But they have never been here. One of the kids has (he came to visit last year), but he (and his sister) aren't coming this time, so it'll just be the parents and the youngest kid, who's nine. He gets to skip school, and take the longest plane ride of his life, and from what he told me over the phone last weekend, it sounds like his classmates are all very jealous and impressed with his new, jet-setting ways.

We don't exactly have big plans for them--but there were a couple things I was thinking of doing. Of course, we'll take them around the city, show them the monuments and the museums, make sure they can figure out the Metro so that they won't be stuck at their hotel, bored, all next week while we're at work. But then there are the subtler things, the typically American things, that I'd love to show them. They introduced me to everything French--cuisine and cars and movies and clothes and everything else--and by the end of the year they were telling me that I had become a true Fran├žaise, the highest compliment that they can give.

So I'd like to return the favor, but I haven't planned it out that well. So far I've thought of inviting them over for breakfast and making them pancakes. They've never had pancakes, and while there's a distinct possibility that they will dislike them as crepes gone wrong, I want to make them anyway, and I want to pour maple syrup on them.

But what else? What is a truly American thing to eat, or do, or see, that I should make sure my French family gets to try out while they're here?

36 comments:

  1. Totally show them the local sites, brint them to your favorite spots. You may want to get a local map and highlight suggestions for them to try while you are at work.

    I am sure that they are excited to see you most of all!

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  2. Things that my French family thought were typically "American" and baffling:

    - Huge mega grocery store (I always get a kick out of going to grocery stores in foreign countries.)
    - a sports bar
    - Brunch (both as a concept and the food served there, though the last time I was in Paris it seemed the brunch craze had caught on there.)
    - Popcorn with salt on it (instead of sugar)
    - Cable tv with a million channels (but probably not the best thing to spend a lot of time on with out of town guests)

    I'm so happy for you that they're finally coming to visit!

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  3. Baseball or basketball game? Outlet mall?

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  4. I'm sure they will give you ideas and stuff as you are showing them around town. I'm sorry I don't have good ideas to contribute. Sadly, I haven't made it out of the country, other than to go to Canada, which is almost in my backyard. I blame being in almost the center of the continent. It's a long ways to go (and extremely expensive) to get anywhere else! ;-)

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  5. When I was staying with a host family in France I had brought them a jar of peanut butter and they thought it was the weirdest thing they had ever seen. Of course, that was back in 1996, so I'm thinking peanut butter might be a little more prevalent in French society today, but still!

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  6. Marshmallow Fluff. IHOP. French Toast? ;o) S'mores? Best Buy? ESPN Zone? oooh, TARGET!!!!

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  7. I'm so impressed by your connection still - so awesome!

    I'm wracking my brain but I can't come up with anything that hasn't been said. I'm not a good hostess.

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  8. definitely target!

    hmm... medieval times?

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  9. My London host family still gets excited over are very large Walmart supercenters/Target and how cheap it is. Cracks me up! They love eating as much meat and cheese that they can get from here. Like cheese dip, cheeseburgers, or chicken wings. Oh and I know its London & not France but they also love the mall. The stores like Bath & Body works. They take a ton of that stuff home with them. Definitely see the sights especially since your in the DC. Oh I hope they grow to love the US.

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  10. I would just show that what you love to do on any typical weekend - usually whatever interests you will interest those who love you....besides - YOU are what theya rehehre for! Meet up with some extended family or friends and include them...

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  11. Hmm... hamburgers and french fries? Baseball? bowling? ft ball? All those things seem pretty American to me. But then again, I've never been out of the country and dont have anything to compare it to.

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  12. You should take them to a diner or IHOP. (Or Perkins. Really, any place where you can get breakfast all the time.)

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  13. Sporting events, like basketball and football. Maybe a local high school around has a game going on this weekend?

    I bet they will love the monuments.

    I'm not well versed on other countries that I haven't been to, but I bet anything you pick will be great. And I would hope they have planned some activites too, a good guest never waits for their host to plan their day.

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  14. Chocolate chip cookies!

    A Redskins game would be cool, but also really expensive, especially last minute.

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  15. Your French Family is on their way RIGHT NOW! So exciting!

    DC has such great local and historical sites, I am sure they would appreciate it. The Smithsonian is always good. Maybe the Portrait Gallery? It was closed the entire time I lived there, so I always think it would be such a great place to go.

    I would definitely take them to the Kennedy Center for some kind of performance. You can go early and have dinner there, too. You can usually get tickets for as little as $20 a piece. That could be fun!

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  16. Definitely all of your local stuff, good food. Get them some pamphlets for touristy stuff.

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  17. Do all of the touristy stuff and all of the "this is what I usually do with my life stuff." Maybe ask them t list 5 American stereotype things and then take them to do all of those!

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  18. how awesome!!! If its warm enough where you are, a BBQ would be pretty classic. A breakfast at a nice greasy spoon diner would be cool too. The grocery store/target comments are cracking me up, but its soooo true!

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  19. I have no good suggestions for you, but I am totally jealous you have not one but two cool families. Three counting Torsten.

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  20. Some of my French friends came for our wedding too - it was in Wisconsin, so a little more boring, but we gave them our car to explore in and took them to tour Chicago. My favorite thing was their wonder at how spread out everything is!

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  21. Single digit countdown AND Host family on the way. Holy Kerfunk, it's almost here!

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  22. How wonderful they are visiting!

    Take them to DC, I used to take for granted this area, until we had kids. It is a great place to walk with the kids, even in strollers. The art museum, Smithsonian, Georgetown, the mall, etc. Whatever is local, and means something to you.

    Do they have supertarget there? My cousin from TX got a huge kick out of the two story target.

    She cared more about that than being downtown. Of course she was 17.

    Have fun!

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  23. I don't have a suggestion, but how fun and exciting! I'm so glad they're finally coming to see you.

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  24. Give them french fries and say, "We call them 'Freedom Fries' here."

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  25. I say just take them places you like. Do the touristy stuff and shopping, but also where you and Torsten hang.

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  26. I'm going to be all cheesy here and suggest that the peaceful transfer of power is the most amazing fundamentally American thing you could show them. But since a front row seat at the inauguration probably isn't possible, go with chocolate chip cookies. My Swiss friend still thinks they're the best thing ever.

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  27. Super glad it's almost time ;) Are you getting as excited as I am? Though, you are much less of a procrastinator than I am, so I'm sure things are a little less hectic. But fun. 7.5 days! :)

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  28. I am so excited for you! I know my French family loved peanut butter. Well, actually they thought it was disgusting, but they loved trying something new. Also, pumpkin was exciting for them.

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  29. - The Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery
    - Washington's Mount Vernon (the new museum and exhibits are wonderful)
    - Krispy Kreme Donuts
    - A weekend in NYC would be quintessentially American, but you probably don't have time for that
    - Target in Columbia Heights
    - If the Awakening was still at Haines Point, I'd highly recommend that, but as it isn't, meh...
    - Hillwood Mansion and Estates off of Tilden Road is AMAZING!
    - The Kennedy Center has an amazing tour and the French loved John and Jackie, plus there are the free concerts on the Millennium Stage

    That's all I've got at the moment. If I think of any more, I'll come back.

    Have fun!

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  30. Halloween!!! Even though Halloween is becoming more and more well-known in Europe, it's just not the same. Maybe you could go pick some pumpkins with them and carve Jack-o-lanterns? Or go on a hayride! Even better, a haunted hayride! Eat candy apples. Those are all fall activities that I miss and know I would be doing if I were in DC right now. You probably won't have time the night before your wedding, but man it would have been perfect to take the little guy trick or treating!
    Also: Show them Costco!

    The Awakening isn't at Haines point anymore??? WHAT? Wow, that makes me sad. We used to always go there...

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  31. Hm. There must be a great little place around to eat a cheap American hot dog. :) Too bad baseball season is virtually over. On the hand, you live in DC! What's more American than visiting the nation's capital??

    and OHMYCRAP you're getting married ONE WEEK! i hope you get a decent amount of sleep this week in between site-seeing. Do you have to work this week? Ugh. i hope not. Have a great week, Jess!

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  32. Okay, as a German what I would consider typically American is a barbecue, but is it still warm enough over there to do that? Or you could make pumpkin pie or some other kind of pie (like lemon merengue). Or deviled eggs.
    And maybe a midnight trip to Target / Walmart with IHOP afterwards. ;) In Europe we are not spoiled with 24/7 opening of stores.

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  33. Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.

    A ginormous shopping mall, complete with food court.

    Some sort of carnival. A bit hard to come by this time of year, but anything with rickety rides transported on the back of trucks, and funnel cake. Bonus points if you can throw a ping-pong ball into a jar to win a goldfish.

    A hay ride. (And it's close enough to Halloween to be a HAUNTED Hayride! Even better!!)

    Apple picking.

    Bowling.

    There's a few to get you started :)

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  34. Trick or treating on Embassy Row for the boy. I'm sure you can find a costume at one of our gigantic American stores (Target, Costco, the mall).

    The Smithsonian (although the frickin' Museum of American History is under renovation until 21 Nov.).

    Pumpkin pancakes with cranberry relish. Maple syrup. Oh, and cupcakes. The Post has what I think is an ongoing piece on the best cupcakes in the DC metro area.

    A nice brunch one day. I was in Washington for a few days earlier this week and my hotel's restaurant, the Lafayette, was pretty great.

    A free show at the Kennedy Center and of course the monuments.

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  35. the maple syrup on the pancakes are a touch of canadian! WORD!

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