Two English girls, two Germans, two French people and an Irish guy sit down to dinner. No this isn’t the start to some lewd joke; it is in fact the start to a story about our dinner chez the Mafia Landlady aka Madame B.
We’ve been living in the Ice Palace for around 4/5 months now but even so when the call came from our beloved landlady we were rather shocked to receive an invite for dinner at her house along with paying her our rent. We willing replied that we would love to have dinner with her and her creepy son. What student would pass up a free meal? The information that she left out of the equation until the day before the event was that we’d also be dining with our neighbours who live on the floor above us. Filling us with slight trepidation following our slight loud escapades we said it would be lovely to meet them. This shocked Madame B. How could we not have met the people who live above us? This was the chance to meet them.
So Tash and I left our flat characteristically early in order to go and find a suitable gift to take. I don’t think we could have found a bigger box of chocolates on the shelves of Monoprix that they one we found. At least if the meal wasn’t very good then we’d have some lovely chocolates to fill ourselves up on at the end of the meal! Due to our earliness we had a lovely wander around the area – I think turning up to what could be one the most awkward evenings of our lives wasn’t top on our agendas. We finally decided it was time to walk up those stairs and face the soirée.
Greeted by Madame B and her weird son we were directed to sit down in her bedroom of all places then handed a glass of Champagne. The signals for a weird evening were all there. After some rather awkward conversation of what our parents do for a living the other guests for the evening turned up. We were all introduced to each other with some stilted conversation and the random outbursts of Madame B’s son asking very strange questions indeed. This was all accompanied with a piece of bread covered in a mysterious paste. I could see Tash looking at me with caution out of the corner of my eye. The one thing I really didn’t want to have at this dinner would be seafood or salmon and the look of this spread had a distinct fishy smell. After one bite I knew it was the dreaded prawn mousse. I managed to scoff it down in between gulps of Champagne without too much trouble. Again I repeat my joy at a free meal, but hopefully this would be the last seafood of the night.
Unfortunately my hopes and dreams were dashed when the platter of prawns in their shells, salmon and boiled egg was brought out. Even worse Tash and I had been split up and had Creepy Son sat in between us. After some tentative looking around the table to see when it was appropriate to start deconstructing the meal, conversation started to flow about how my Irish neighbour was looking into Hepatitis C as part of his Masters. Such classic dinner party conversation instigated from my landlady there. Meanwhile the German vegetarian neighbour was sat quietly eating his lone avocado as he wasn’t eating any of the fish, I think this was a step up after being handed a packet of raisins during reception drinks. His luck didn’t continue though. As we all had scallops with a lovely bit of very plain pasta, he just had plain pasta.
Conversation obviously turned to the weather and if it was going to snow at all in Paris which prompted German female neighbour to talk about skiing giving Creepy Son an excuse to yet again top up my wine glass. Finally dessert was upon us, a delicious homemade chocolate orange cake from Madame B in addition the gigantic box of chocolates we had taken with us. After some ridiculing of the British students and our seemingly small time spent in university in comparison with the Masters students we made our excuses and all left together happy in the knowledge that we didn’t have to all try to speak strained French in an even more awkward situation.
Luckily I now know the people I have to go and complain to when they wake me up in the middle of the night when they start to hoover. It has also been quite strange how before this encounter at Madame B’s we had never seen them but now we are always bumping into them in the corridor. Apparently we shall all be having a soirée after Christmas so that we can get to know each other more, so I must say to look out for more detailed accounts of what goes on at the Ice Palace.