Dinner With Strangers

Yesterday, I had dinner with strangers. I should definitely do that more often.

Meeting over dinner is a great way of really getting to know somebody from a very different world than yours. Yesterday, I happened to sit across the table from Jenna and Jody. They are both doing an exchange in Buenos Aires from their home-college in California. Their way of seeing this city is so much different from mine, I quickly realized.

We are at Jueves a la Mesa, a little closed-door vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the bohemian neighbourhood San Telmo. Imagine relaxing music, beautiful decoration and delicious food. Like the name suggests, this event takes place every Thursday, bringing twelve different people onto one table.

This week’s only male member on the table is Dave. His wife Emma is working in an international bank. She is the perfect example of a young dynamic power woman. She explains us how her work is making them travel all over the place. “I am a slave, really!”, she laughs, but you realize that she likes her job and that both are enjoying the traveling.

Everyone on the table has a story. Between the four courses being served – including always a hearty explanation by cooks Sophia and Meghan – there is more than enough time to share Buenos Aires laundry-mixup stories, travel experiences and favourites places in Argentina.

This week’s motto at Jueves a la mesa: Summer and Picnic food, which actually comes with a surprise: we are invited to eat with our hands. What follows are creative vegetarian sandwiches and fries which actually are beans or sweet potato or asparagus. All combined with colorful, refreshing and very tasty salads. The hosts’ plan works out well. Finger food – and probably also the wine – loosens people up quite quickly.

During the dinner I realize, eating together makes us better listeners. Sharing a meal and sitting on the same table makes us come closer together, we quickly turn from strangers into acquainted. I soon feel comfortable enough to aks the question I was wondering about for a while: “So who is actually a vegetarian?” Sarah, the yoga teacher is. So are Lilly and Anna, students from Canada and Germany. Everybody else says no, but that they really enjoy this meat-free oasis in the middle of such a carnivore country everyone agrees on.

Hosts Meghan and Sophia are definitely not only masters of vegetarian cuisine but also have a good feeling for creating the right atmosphere for people to meet in a relaxed and open way. In the very end, the table turns into a sharing of good ideas and projects. Meghan explains how being a yoga teacher she has been meeting so many amazing people in the city and has started trading yoga lessons and jueves-dinners for other services like bike rentals, wine tastings or tango classes. We all not only go home filled up with good food, happy with the interesting talks we have had, but also with a new network of people doing things for passion more than money.

Thanks for an amazing evening.


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