カテゴリ:マンツーマン 英会話 札幌( 33 )   

My homestay experience   

Hello everyone,


I would like to share my homestay experience with you! I was lucky enough to participate in a homestay program in March. The program was advertised at Hokkaido University’s International Office and I had to apply two month before I wanted to participate. The application process was easy and straightforward. I had to provide my personal details and my preferences, however I couldn’t indicate where I wanted to do my homestay. I didn’t really mind that, because my aim with this program was to experience living together with a Japanese family, practice my Japanese and to learn about their daily life. Finally, after a month or so, I got a call from the International Office that they found me a family in Wassamu, Hokkaido!
I was really excited to spend 6 nights and 5 days with my family. They were a family of two, my host-dad, and my host-mum. They also had four lovely cats. Before my arrival I had to make sure that they know the time of my arrival so I had to ring them up, and speak Japanese to them on the phone! It was really scary at first, but in the end it worked out just fine, and they came to pick me up from Wassamu station. They couldn’t speak any English, but they were really eager to learn a lot about my country, my family back at home, and the differences between Japanese and Hungarian culture.
They were really welcoming and I felt like home, although far away from home. I bought them a present from Hungary. It was a bottle of Hungarian white wine, my favourite! It seemed to me that my host dad liked it too, because we finished it together the first night I got there!

During my five day stay, they organised so many programs for me, making sure I was always busy and having fun. We went cabbage picking from the snow! I haven’t experienced anything like that before and I really enjoyed it. The snow was up to might waist but trucks cleared the snow out of the way so we could look for the cabbage that were lying there. We pick so much cabbage, we filled the entire truck with it. After that, we took the cabbage to a place where it gets cleaned and packed, ready to go to Tokyo! It was really interesting seeing the whole process and the work they do before these huge boxes of cabbage are sent to Tokyo. I really enjoyed this taking part in such an experience and learnt a lot about agriculture in Hokkaido.
In the end we got to try some of the cabbage, and it was the most delicious cabbage I’ve ever tried! It was so sweet and fresh, and the fact that I handpicked it, from the snow just made it tastier. I think it’s an experience not many international students get to do, so I was really lucky and grateful that my host family organised this program for me.
I tried so many Japanese dishes while I was there. We had sukiyaki, and it was the first time I tried a raw egg. At first I was hesitant to with eating a raw egg, but I didn’t wanted to refuse it, so I tired it. It was surprisingly delicious. I thought that it went really well with the dish, however I was a bit worried wether it’s okay to eat a raw egg, but my host family said that it’s a very safe thing to do in Japan, and it doesn’t carry any bacteria (I wouldn’t eat a raw egg in my country, because it might carry some).
On our last day, we went to an Alpaca farm, and a Picture Book exhibition. The alpacas were super cute, and really fluffy. I fed the Alpaca food, and they didn’t spit on me (luckily!). I really enjoyed the Picture Book exhibition too because the books use easy Japanese that I can read and understand too. In the evening we went to an onset and had jinghiskan. It was a perfect ending to my stay. I spend 5 days with my host family, and I’m already planning my next visit to see them during Golden Week. I am really thankful for their hospitality and for all the great experiences we had together. I’ll be back soon!


Tamara (Hungary)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-04-15 17:47 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌 | Comments(0)

My first white Christmas   

When I first arrived in Sapporo the autumn leaves were such gorgeous and vivid shades of red, crimson, and orange that I was really in awe as I walked around the campus of my university, Hokudai. But soon enough, the leaves fell from the trees and collected on the sides of the paths, the temperature began to drop and winter seemed to be coming. I was so excited to see the snow which people had told me about; I had been told that there would be pure white powdery snow in huge quantities.

So, for many weeks in November I was so excited for the snow to arrive, and when it did I was in awe once again. I love that Sapporo has such beautiful and distinct seasons, a stark contrast to England where the whole year is one season of grey skies, cold weather and drizzly rain. England is cold in winter but there is no snow so the English winter is not fun. However, in Sapporo there is so much beautiful snow that it justifies the cold weather! It is a very exciting and new experience for me to live in a city with so much snow, but being a newbie to this experience I of course made a few rookie mistakes. My biggest struggle was walking. I simply cannot walk on snow and ice! I have fallen over so many times by now and collected too many bruises to count, but after buying some shoe spikes from the shop things have improved! At the beginning I was also not prepared with some good, sturdy winter boots, but now I have two pairs of boots and some snow boots! I also did not bring a jacket that was warm enough for this climate, so I was very cold at the beginning of winter, but now I have three! However, the best thing about living in snowy Sapporo is that I can take the bus and go skiing whenever I want, something which is unheard of in England!

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As Christmas and New year approached I became more and more excited to spend my first winter holiday in Japan and to see my first white Christmas! To make things more exciting, my boyfriend was coming to Sapporo for the winter holiday too. It was his first time in Japan and we did lots of fun things together. I took him to an izakaya, to a cat café, to lots of restaurants, Mt. Moiwa and more.

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For Christmas, we exchanged presents in the morning and then went to my friend’s apartment where she cooked us a delicious dinner and we drank lots of wine. My boyfriend and I wore Santa suits, and it was a very fun Christmas indeed! For new year, we went to Hokkaido shrine. We arrived at 10:30pm and there was nobody there, so we were very anxious! I was told it would be so busy on New Year’s eve, so I was expecting crowds and crowds, but it turns out everyone arrives at the shrine very late! In the meantime, we explored the stalls which were set up around the shrine and ate lots of delicious festival food. We then queued up for Hatsumoude, and when midnight came we proceeded to the front of the shrine, threw some money and made a wish. I wanted a truly Japanese experience for New Year and I think I got it, I had a lot of fun!

Melissa (UK)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-01-12 17:20 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌 | Comments(0)

How not to travel to a foreign country   

Hello there! Michael/Waffle here!

As many people know by now, this is not my first time here in Sapporo as I used to be a foreign exchange student at Sapporo University. I had always dreamed of coming back, but my return was by no means a smooth one and so I present to you the story of how services that do not exist in England but are readily available in Japan saved me from a tough transition.

I did not know when I would arrive in Sapporo after staying in Tokyo so I decided to not reserve any form of housing or hotel in advance and I arrived on the evening of Tuesday the 6th with no where to stay for the night. This unfortunately happened to be the week that preparations were underway for the Autumn Festival at Odori so many businesses and tourists had booked all of the cheap hotel accommodation, leaving me confused and contacting my friends to assess my options. Fortunately, because I had been in Japan before and knew the Sapporo area well, I remembered the existence of Manga Cafes and I headed for a cafe I remembered being in the Susukino area.

Around 15 years ago in England it was common to find Internet Cafes, a place you could use a computer with a fast internet connection for a short period of time and they were very expensive. These facilities are now very rare due to how many people use smartphones, though you can find them around London but it is important to note these are not available 24 hours a day. At the Manga Cafe I stayed at, not only was I able to use a computer, but I could also stay overnight to lay down and sleep with access to free drinks and ice cream. I spent 5 consecutive nights at the Manga Cafe for 2000 yen a night, which felt like a great deal to me as hotels would not have been as cheap and I was free to watch movies, play online games and read comics as much I would like!

When I left in the morning, I had a new problem. I still had my suitcase which weighed over 20 kilograms. Fortunately for myself, Japan is known as the country of convenience for a good reason and there are coin lockers in nearly every train station which is not the case in England. In England, only in our biggest train stations do we have baggage storage services and these are very expensive, it would have cost me roughly 2000 yen to store a bag for 12 hours in London whilst in Sapporo, it cost me 500 yen. This was a big relief for me after I found a coin locker big enough to store my suitcase in as I’m sure 5 days of carrying around such a heavy piece of luggage would not have been very fun!

The greatest thing, which still surprises me, is how convenient the timing was for both services. I could stay in the Manga Cafe for 12 hours with a cheap night package and I could store my luggage for 12 hours without having to pay any extra. Although I definitely would not recommend anyone to voluntarily do what I did for my first week in Sapporo as it was very irresponsible, it was an interesting experience that probably would have definitely been impossible to do not only in London, but many other cities around the world.

Until next time!

Michael (UK)
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by chitchatcafe | 2016-11-10 19:14 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌 | Comments(0)

Tongue Twister Time   

Maybe it`s hard to believe, but long before I was able to have a conversation in Japanese I could say 4 Japanese tongue twisters. A tongue twister is sentence that is designed to be very difficult to say. An English student of mine in Sasebo taught me the first one - the one about the frogs - pyok pyko. I actually didn't find it too difficult to say and my Japanese friends cracked up laughing every time I said it. So I started to learn some more - about raw weath, red scrolls or persimmon eating guests. It`s funny how tongue twisters often don`t make any sense.

One of the most popular German tongue twisters is this one: "Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid", which means "red cabbage will always be red cabbage and a wedding dress will always be a wedding dress". I wouldn`t call it a very clever saying - but it`s so HARD to say. For me, it`s almost impossible! I have to concentrate a lot and speak very slowly. And still, it`s quite hard. But maybe the tongue twisters in your own native languages are the most difficult to say. Anyway, I think they`re a lot of fun. I would even say, the more difficult the tongue twister, the more fun it is. And they`re are not only light-hearted linguistic games, but they can also be used to teach English and improve your pronunciation. So I started to teach my student a new tongue twister every lesson and we had a lot of fun trying to say them together. Of course, I soon ran out of tongue twisters and I had to search the internet for more. That way, I learned I lot myself. And I learned something funny about the most popular English tongue twister.

For sure you heared this one before:”She sells seashells on the sea-shore.” Did you know that it is actually based on a real person? It is Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis, England, at the beginning of the 19th century. Lyme Regis is a small costal town and like many others Mary used to collect interessting stones and fossils and sold them to tourists. That is also how she one day discovered a giant skull, that looked something like a crocodile - it turned out to be a dinosaur. Probably, Mary is the first female paleontologist, but hardly anybody knows this. To most people she is just the girl that sells seashells on the sea-shore....

Irene (Germany)

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by chitchatcafe | 2015-05-21 15:31 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌 | Comments(0)

The last big event before the coming of spring   

Good afternoon to everyone,

The long winter days continue to pass as we approach springtime. There are many things which I am looking forward to doing once the snow has melted away, and the days become longer and warmer. Before winter has taken a bow and given way to the spring season, there is still one last event which I, as well as many other people are looking forward to attending. That of course is the Sapporo Snow Festival. Actually I had never heard of the Sapporo Snow Festival prior to moving here nearly six years ago. The first time I attended it I was blown away with the wonderful works of art which had been produced. I was also surprised to learn how many teams of people from around the globe had put in months of planning as well as weeks upon weeks of hard physical labor in order to make this festival become a reality.

This year although I am still unsure of what kind of works will be put on display, I was able to grab a quick glance of what appears to be a tribute to Star Wars. As a child growing up at the time when the series was still new and being shown at the theater, the movie has a special place in my heart. I am sure that when I do go to the snow festival this year, the first exhibit which I visit will be that one.

Hope you all get at chance to visit it as well!

Douglas (USA)

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by chitchatcafe | 2015-01-27 15:49 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌 | Comments(0)

Goodbye summer   

Hi! Hope everyone is doing well!

Well I’m sure you’ve noticed, the weather is starting to get a cooler outside. As sad as that makes me I am looking forward to the changing leaves and comfortable nights sleeping. Hokkaido autumn is an amazing time and it is one of my favourite times of the year.
Things with me are going well. I had an amazing time at Rising Sun Rock Festival. Got to many great Japanese bands as well as hang out with some of my friends from Australia who came for a visit. This was my third Rising Sun since I came to Japan and it was easily the best. I managed to come home with my shoes and my wallet this year, which a great improvement on my efforts from last year.
That’s about all from me for this month. Time to start getting ready for the long winter season. Next step, save some money and buy some new snowboard boots. This season is going to be crazy!
Take it easy everyone.

Pat (Australia)

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by chitchatcafe | 2014-09-09 17:33 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Time slip   

Time. Something completely consistent across all cultures, yet also completely different in its observation between them, and even sometimes within themselves. Let me start with the last point because it’s the smallest, and work my way to complexity.

Using the United States as an example, a country composed of people from all over the world into one (mostly) cohesive unit. In fact, our national motto is e pluribus unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one”, and reinforces the concept of unity from which we draw our name. However, time is one thing we don’t all agree on, both with the rest of the world, and even between regions of our own country.

During the summer (but beginning in Spring), most places in America observe what’s referred to as Daylight Saving Time. By careful examination of the verbiage, the meaning and purpose are likely apparent; it’s a time adjustment made to save daylight during the longer mid-year days.

However, as Americans, we don’t treat it consistently, starting with its name. Most Americans incorrectly call it “Daylight Savings Time”, which admittedly sounds more natural, but is grammatically incorrect. So that is one inconsistency. The other is that some places in the US don’t observe it at all (Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, etc.), complicating interstate communication and scheduling. For example, the contiguous forty-eight states are divided into four time zones, separated into geographic striations, and each is offset by an hour compared to their adjacent zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. This presents plenty of difficulties for anyone traveling, working, or relaying communique across these boundaries, but adding a seasonal time shift of one hour, plus exempting a few locales makes consistency impossible, and clear understanding an endeavor nearly deserving of its own post-doctoral education.

As an antiquated system devised hundreds of years prior for the amelioration of seasonal, agricultural hindrances, DST’s purpose within a modern, non-agrarian society has little appreciable benefit to its populace—being obsolete at best, and should be abolished, though that is merely my opinion, as I digress…

Widening the scope, Daylight Saving Time is mostly unobserved internationally. To my knowledge, Japan does not participate. So if anyone is keeping track, if we compare the USA during the summer season with Japan, not only do you have the continental time differential, but also several zones within the US, and further still, some places observing DST…but some not. I’ve been living this annual cycle for thirty-five years now, am reasonably-capable with numbers, and could not tell you what time it is in San Francisco, New York, or my hometown.

Time in a literal, measurable sense clearly lacks consistency.

In a more abstract or even figurative way, Japan and America seem to regard time differently as well. In general, I consider English a less formal or polite language. That’s not to say we don’t have a plethora of words and vocabulary to accommodate a wide variety of courtesies, but I feel it pales in comparison to the deeply-entrenched grammar, vocabulary, and gestures which permeate the Japanese language and culture.

For example, in English, we have several typical phrases to express gratitude: thanks, thank you, thank you very much; each increasingly polite, but all essentially slight variations of the same root word. In Japanese, not only are there slight variations (する, します, しましょう), but often auxiliary or alternate words altogether (どうも, ありがとう, どうもありがとう, どうもありがとうございます). Keigo in general seems to favor more lengthy expressions which also tend to include distinct, purposeful lexicon. Among my first keigo lessons a few years ago, most teachers explain these differences in the context that the speaker taking more time and effort to deliver the extra syllables, is a politeness in and of itself, beyond the actual words. In English we definitely don’t perceive any correlation between words, their speaking duration, and any kind of positive or negative sentiment, unless one illustrates an exaggerated scenario such as a professor or minister rambling on, to the dismay of their audience. In this sense, the languages themselves and how they are interpreted, both denotatively and connotatively, have a certain impact on our native perception relative to time.

Additionally, I constantly see people here in Japan hesitating mid-step, acknowledging, and profusely apologizing for being late or causing others to wait. This could be customers queueing to pay at a store or restaurant, pedestrians meeting cars entering or exiting parking structures, or even a train's lateness. A couple weeks ago I had rescheduled a missed mail delivery. I indicated simply to deliver it during the morning sometime, so when the postman finally came at around 10:30 a.m. and began groveling for my forgiveness because he was "so late", I found it odd; it was still a.m. by a wide margin. In America I’d be lucky and gracious if they showed up before 3pm, and certainly not expect any apology. Sometimes even a delay of mere seconds is reason enough for people to initiate their compensatory, almost compulsory politeness and apologizing routines. It implies that people tend to highly value, or at least greatly respect others’ time enough that wasting even the smallest bit of it seems a capital offense. On the contrary, Americans don’t really have any concept of this beyond being late for appointments. I do really prefer the Japanese mentality in this regard, as time is the one currency in my life that is finite, making it also my most precious commodity; I can always earn more money or things.

I appreciate these differences; finding them simultaneously amusing, frustrating, and at times bordering on the ridiculous or unnecessary. But then for me, I enjoy—perhaps even celebrate—contrasting points, especially between cultures; that’s ultimately one of the major reasons that drew me to Japan in the first place. As beautiful as Hokkaido is that can leave me speechless, as delicious as the food may be, as efficient as so many systems are, it always seem to trace back to comparisons between the life I was raised in and left behind with the life and lifestyle I have come to know halfway around the world.

What do you think about time? About my interpretation of things? Stop by and talk about it with me anytime!

Aaron (USA)

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by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-24 15:10 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

It's a small World!   

Hi everyone,

I hope you're all well and that you had a good Golden Week/Ohanami!

This time I would like to share an amazing story that few of you already know since I talked about it at the Chit Chat Cafe. Nevertheless, I really want to share it in a short post.
You've probably already run into some friends or acquaintances you had not seen in ages or even received a phone call from someone you thought about just few seconds before. It did happen to me again not more than a week ago ; I bumped into 4 friends in 4 days. Anyway, those are coincidences, maybe common coincidences.
However, this is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A coincidence, yes indeed, but on a much larger scale.

Last year, I went back to France for summer and on my way back to Sapporo ,I had a short stopover in Seoul. From there, I got on a different plane and happened to sit next to two middle aged japanese ladies. We talked all the way to Sapporo but parted ways at Chitose airport without exchanging emails or phone numbers, nothing, just a mere 'thank you and good luck!'.
Then a couple of weeks ago my kendo teacher, a lady, came to me and said : 'Tell me Claire, you went back to France last year, right? Didn't you stop at Seoul Airport before getting on a plane to Sapporo?' Of course I did, but what caught my attention is that I didn't know my kendo teacher at the time and if I did mention to her my trip to France last year, I had never mentioned any stopovers. Following this question and noticing my obvious state of confusion, my kendo teacher went on :' I have a friend who went to Korea with her cousin last year and on their way back to Sapporo, they sat next to a french girl. This girl said that she was living in Sapporo, she had studied japanese and was now teaching English and French. She had long black hair and loved cheese and japanese food. Though we didn't talk about kendo and didn't exchange names or phone numbers, she said that she was not particularly interested in living in France.' This last statement clicked in my head ... teaching french and english, long black hair, love cheese and japanese food, studied japanese... it could be anyone but 'not particularly interested in living in France' is not something that many french people say, indeed. Could it be me? Could this lady be my kendo teacher's friend?
This was too much of a potential coincidence to not do anything about it, so, my kendo teacher settled a dinner out with this lady, her and myself to find out if I was the girl that sat next to her friend last year in a the plane.
And guess what, it was me! 'What a small World' took on all it's meaning! I still can't believe this actually happened!

How about you Chit Chatters? Have anything that amazing ever happened to you?

Claire (France)

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by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-23 14:49 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Single-serving friends   

If you’ve ever seen the movie Fight Club (1999), AND saw it in English, you might remember this idea from a conversation early in the story.

The narrator (Edward Norton’s character) is talking to Tyler Durden, his seat mate on a trip, when he mentions the concept of “single-serving friends”. For anyone who travels with any regularity, they are likely familiar with single-serving experiences…hotels and airlines typically provide patrons everything from toiletries to dining condiments in very small doses intended to be completely exhausted after just one use.

In this situation however, the narrator extends the concept to include the people one meets while traveling as well; equating the temporary acquaintances we share the intimate space around us for several hours—space typically reserved exclusively for only our closest friends, families, or significant others—with so many tiny vials of shampoo; almost certainly a brand we’ve never tried, are reluctant to open, yet are nudged by the forces of circumstance to sample anyway.

I can’t speak for Japanese culture, but it’s quite common in America that strangers occupying adjoining seats on a bus, train, airplane, or even roller coaster to make use of their temporary closeness to strike up a friendly conversation…no strings attached. Of course while common, not all people choose to exercise this opportunity, but for those who do, they can make single-serving friends whom they discard once the physical proximity is severed.

Since Fight Club was released, this phrase’s connotation has evolved to include a longer stretch of time than just the couple hours while in each other’s immediate presence. For example, the doorman at your hotel, a recurring face at a weekend conference, etc. As it turns out, being a foreign student (or teacher) exposes one to lots of these experiences, for better or worse. Other teachers, other students, are all essentially single-serving relationships that are all fated to last only until one of the parties reaches their predetermined departure date and returns to their home country. Of course this isn’t always the case and a certain small percentage of people can become long-term friends, but the vast majority we will cease to communicate with, think about, or sometimes even remember once the experience and environment binding us ends. As we say in English, “out of sight, out of mind”.

It’s a sobering kind of reality I wasn’t prepared for when I first began teaching Japanese and Korean students in San Francisco. At that time, I was mainly working pro-bono as a kind of hobby and to gain experience with other cultures, but also to make friends. After the first few months, I was pretty taken aback when in one month all but one of my friends/students left, most of them rather suddenly. All of the people with whom I’d built personal relationships or quasi-professional rapports evaporated overnight like wet footprints on the marbled floor of a business lobby. While I connected via email or Facebook with many of them, as any avid user of social-media comes to realize, they are excellent tools for passive, spectating interpersonal relationships, but awful at generating meaningful discourse or fostering healthy bonds. Within days or weeks, despite being digitally connected, our immediate lives took priority, pushing aside those things and people who were no longer a part of our daily routines.

So too has this been my reality as both a student and teacher here in Sapporo. Throughout my first year as a student at a Japanese language school making a good number of friends and even more casual acquaintances, nearly all of them reverted to strangers once they—or eventually I too—left the school. As a teacher, I prepare many of my students for international experiences: living, working, or traveling abroad; a special presentation; a job promotion; etc. Once the time comes for each student to fly (literally and figuratively), our brief time together instantly becomes a collection of memories, not a real, living connection with another person.

This introspection came after the last of my remaining classmates and one of my closest friends in Sapporo—someone I met on my very first day here—recently returned to his home country. Most of my daily encounters are professional, making a circle of friends a very finite clique indeed. So to realize that I have in fact come full circle (I arrived in Japan with no friends, and have in some ways regressed to that same ‘tabula rasa’ state) is another of those sobering moments, courtesy of the intercultural lifestyle.

As everyone ages, we all eventually come to understand the impermanence of everything in life, but it has nevertheless been interesting comparing the relative rates of change an average person experiences with that of an internationally-affected person. Have any of you noticed this during your English-learning adventures? Had some good or bad single-serving friends? Stop by anytime and share your stories!

Aaron (USA)

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by chitchatcafe | 2014-02-23 17:39 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Bulgarian Christmas dishes   

As Christmas and New Years holidays are creeping in many people tend to ask me about the types of dishes served in a typical Bulgarian household during these holidays. So I thought there's no better way to describe our dishes than a picture. Unfortunately, those are not mine but Google-sensei was happy to provide. Many people seem surprised when I tell them that Christmas dishes are vegetarian. Bulgarians are in no way vegetarian - this is a tradition dictated by religion. In eastern orthodox Christian countries, Christmas dishes are vegetarian (we tend to overcompensate on New Years, however) because Christmas night is the last day of Christmas fasting. So here are some dishes (I'll try to explain what they are, rest assured all are delicious).

From bottom left to right we have: "pitka" - a type of bread, usually with a coin inside. Whoever gets the coin gets good luck for next year (never bite too hard :)). Next we have a bean soup with mint, followed by boiled pumpkin. In the center we have pickled cabbage, carrot, cauliflower salad. On the top left to it we have pickled whole red peppers with garlic. The big dish to the right is stuffed peppers. The last dish on the left is a desert. There you go, my mouth is already watery from looking at this picture.

Slavi (Bulgaria
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by chitchatcafe | 2013-12-17 16:25 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌