Lebanese like to dine late. Very late. So late in fact that is has become difficult to invite Lebanese and non-Lebanese to my house for a dinner at the same time. You can tell Americans or Dutch with a straight face that they are expected at 6:30 or 7, and they’ll be there.
Tell that to a Lebanese.
“7.30! Why so early? No way man. Why not 8:30?” and you’re lucky if they then show up at 9. Dinner won’t be on the table until 10:00, because we’re very busy discussing politics. By that time, your European dinner guests are emaciated. Or wasted, because they’ve been drinking wine since 7. Or annoyed, since they’ve got to go to work the next day. Well, so do Lebanese, I just don’t know how they do it; late dinners and early workdays.
These days we split the dinners, because by the time the Lebanese arrive, the foreigners are already on their way out.
I’m married to an unusual Lebanese. Unusual in the sense that he’s an early diner too. The only one in his family, I might add. So we host foreigners on weekdays, because then we still can function at work the next day, and the Lebanese on Friday or Saturday nights, so we can sleep late the day after.
Why am I telling you all this? Yesterday evening (well, evening for us) at 6, we had a family dinner in what the kids call the ‘Swan restaurant.’ I am sure it has another name, but in our family it is known as the swan restaurant, because in summer there’s swans and geese swimming in the river that flows through the restaurant. And we were the ONLY ones. 7 waiters at our disposal, best service ever. Which was not bad, because I’ve had times when we arrived at a restaurant at the same time as the employees. At least these guys were in like 2 minutes before us.
We had as lovely dinner, as the melting water from the snow in the mountains flowed by. When we left, we ran into a group of foreigners coming for dinner. “Is it open?” they asked. “The place is so empty!”
“No, no, it is open,” assured the head waiter. “It is just a little bit early.”