One spring weekend, during a college semester abroad in Paris, I found myself the houseguest of a large French family at their home on the coast in Brittany. I didn't know them, but my friend Jenny's French aunt, Katherine, did, and she had insisted they would be thrilled to host Jenny and me for a long weekend.
Instead they had no idea who we were when we arrived with only Katherine's phone call as an introduction. Still, they opened their doors and offered us the guest room. Even though I was a couch-surfing, poor college kid, our brazen arrival still managed to embarrass me.
But that was nothing compared to the self-consciousness I felt the next day when the family's traditional Sunday brunch evolved into a five-course gastronomic feast featuring, among other things, oysters. I had never seen an oyster, much less tasted or manhandled one. I felt so provincial.