When I was sixteen, I spent a year in Strasbourg, France as a Rotary Club exchange student. Due to a mix-up at the Rotary office (!), I lived with four different families during the time I was there. While it was a little stressful to move four different times, it was also really interesting: I lived in the suburbs, a 200-year-old farmhouse, a penthouse apartment in the city, and a house in the middle of town. All of the families I stayed with were very wealthy (one of the families actually had a medieval tapestry hanging in their living room!), and took me along on various adventures. However, because I was sixteen, I didn’t realize how amazing some of these adventures actually were.
Like the time one of my host families went on a casual jaunt to L’Auberge de L’Ill for dinner. It seems almost like a dream at this point. Looking back, I was a little like Cinderella at the ball – my host mother’s brother drove his Ferrari, and I rode in the passenger seat. We went in the winter, so by the time we arrived, the air was crisp and the sky was pitch-black. I don’t think I had ever heard of a Michelin star, and no one said anything at the time, so I just thought we were having a really good meal – a meal that included multiple courses, wine pairings, and both cheese and dessert carts.
The food was delicious. Even as a naive sixteen-year-old with no idea that I was dining at one of the best restaurants in the world, I could feel that I was experiencing something special; even the air felt different.
I always wonder: if I had known what a unique evening I was having, would it have been as magical? I now think it was better NOT to know, and to experience the situation with fresh eyes, an open mind, and zero expectations.
I ask because I’m planning a special day for someone that includes a very nice restaurant reservation. I’m torn between whether I should reveal the depth of fabulousness that awaits us, or if I should keep it a surprise, complete with blindfold until we are seated.
What would you do?