I went to my professor's house last night. To cook steak. Apparently the English have no idea what to do with it. I realized that must be the case when I suggested we use the BBQ and I got a blank stare and a "Whatever for?" in response.
After that, I decided to take full control of that part of the meal. I even brought my own (cast iron) frying pan. I also made pasta and brought all my own materials, just in case. I asked the prof. to take care of the vegetables. When I got there, she had five different dishes on the go, and salad. When we finished cooking and sat down to the meal, her kids were exclaiming "We haven't had a meal like this since Christmas!"
There was an abundance of food, laughter, and stories. My special steak marinade was a happy success, and even the daughter who had had a tooth out earlier in the morning bravely ate a good chunk of it. I think my favorite part of the meal was when the daughters asked their mandatory "guest questions". One was "Would you rather go to school/work naked, or be squished by an elephant?" It took me about 2 seconds to decide on the elephant.
The warmth and humor of the meal followed by an ultra-intense game of Dutch-Blitz was wonderful. It made me miss home. Family is such a great thing, and despite all the craziness that normally surrounds them, I wouldn't give mine up for anything. The memories of laughing, eating, teasing, and (invariably with my family) talking about fecal matter will always remain precious.
Thanks Mom and Dad.