I bought this sandwich at a tiny store tucked in the shadows of the White Tower and the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit near the Adalbertinum bus stop in Hradec Králové. And it was once of the best sammiches I’ve had in a long time. The cultural and languages differences in the Czech Republic were starting to get me down this week, and this sandwich so cheered me up.
Between a doctor’s visit, trying to negotiate my student teaching schedule and getting completely, utterly lost, nothing has gone right this week. It’s not just a language issue, really— it’s part cultural, I think. There’s this impatient American side to me.
So this week I’ve been trying to figure out what classes I am teaching, and I’ve been having the most baffling back-and-forth email with my adviser. When I came here, I assumed that I would be given a schedule. Instead, I keep being asked “which schools I want to teach at.” As if I know a lot about middle schools in Bohemia.
Then, when trying to find the school I’d be observing lessons at, I got fantastically, utterly, hopelessly lost among the charming red-tiled houses and Communist-era apartment buildings here. I had forgotten my map, but that didn’t matter— the curving, meandering streets don’t have any street signs. I’d ask someone for directions— but I couldn’t, as I don’t speak Czech. It didn’t matter anyway, because I didn’t know the same of the school I was supposed to be at.
So it was not a great week, when it came to feeling like a capable adult.
Feeling a bit down about the week, I took the bus back into the city center, hoping the bustle and energy would cheer me up. I also decided that lunch would help, and wandered into one of the only bakeries in Hradec that serves up bez lupku (gluten-free) baked goods.
I lucked out. At Bazalka, they had sandwiches. Sandwiches! On baguette- style bread! You don’t know how much you miss a simple sandwich until ordering one— finding the right restaurant, navigating the menu and the getting the clerk to understand your accent— becomes an adventure.
And while I was buying my lucky sandwich, the shopkeeper (who may have started to recognize me) pointed out they had gluten-free pastries left. As if sensing I couldn’t understand her stream of Czech, she simply held out a bag of sesame seeds, to tell me what was inside the pastries. Bless her.
The sandwich— hummus, tomato and lettuce on gluten-free bread— was not the most imaginative sandwich. But it was a great, simple sandwich.