Sunday, September 30, 2012

ONE CAKE TO RULE THEM ALL

I'm a firm believer that cupcakes have a way of bringing out the best in people. Think about it: when was the last time someone gave you a cupcake and it made you angry or sad or upset? Back in DC, I bring cupcakes to nearly every group potluck, volunteer event or department meeting that I attend. The Danes seem to like cupcakes just as much as I do which is pretty lucky since I've come to count on them as my main contribution to every relationship.


On Friday night I took the train down to K√łge for dinner with my visiting family. Jesper, the father, and Emma (14) met me at the train station. Emma gave me a walking tour of the town center; last time I made the journey down south for dinner we didn't have time to walk around. The main part of the town was picturesque and perfectly charming. Cobble stone streets were flanked with red and yellow buildings. The main church was made of bright red brick and was next door to a house that was built in the 1600s. In the town square, the city was hosting a police dog showcase and the organizer gave a speech in Danish as we waited for our ride back. The only word I understood was "fire" (pronounces fee-yah) which means four. Emma said the woman was talking about "four legged friends" and I was quite proud of myself for picking out at least one thing that I understood.

Once we got back to their house we sat down to a delicious dinner of pork roast, potatoes, homemade bread and red cabbage salad with walnuts and pomegranate. After sufficiently cleaning my plate, we opened the box of nine mini cupcakes that I'd picked up before leaving Copenhagen. As we sat around the table drinking tea and savoring every little bite, we started talking (it's really hard to chat when you're busy devouring a fantastic meal).

We discussed whether or not I thought the Hunger Games movie was too violent. I told everyone all about s'mores, the fantastic combination of peanut butter and Oreos and the process of leasing a house at Georgetown for senior year. We talked about cursing in America and how it compares to the used language in movies, how Danes working with Americans have to be extra cautious to be "politically correct" and whether or not I was going to vote in the upcoming collection.

I never considered the Hunger Games to be particularly violent in comparison to other movies but I was reminded that Danes can't own guns and that their perception of violence is much different than that of Americans. I was admittedly surprised by how many locals I heard on the streets dropping the f-word but as Jesper explained, the American movies make swearing seem much more casual than it is. I'd never really considering just how much Hollywood skews the image of American normalcy until someone said the f-word when interviewing me for an internship. While I have quite a mouth of my own, movies do a horrible job at showing when it is and isn't appropriate to swear. Thankfully I've come to feel very comfortable in Danish society but talking about the finer details and little difference was much more interesting than just keeping a running tally in my head of things I'd noticed and really forced me to consider what I'd learned and encountered thus far.

We definitely covered a wide range of topics but I couldn't have been happier with the evening. As great as Copenhagen is, it's nice to get out of the city and enjoy a real home-cooked meal (I've become the queen of pasta and grilled cheese since that's about all I can make). We had great conversation that made me think more closely about my own culture and how it's perceived by the rest of the world. Everyone loved the cupcakes and I couldn't help but be pleased with myself for bringing them. Cupcakes have a funny way of bringing people together. Even in Denmark, some things never change.

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