The car windows were frosty in Marlborough 30 years ago


Frosty windowJanuary 20th, 1981. I was 14 years-old and terrified. I had just left my home in Brasilia to spend 6 months in the US as an exchange student. I vividly remember the car’s frosty windows on my way from Logan to Marlborough. I had never seen snow. I had never been abroad. And, needless to say, I had never seen the Palardys – Mom, Dad, Bernadette, Donna or Susan. It was all new. Exciting, but terrifying.

Marlborough, Ma.This American family opened their home to me. I think of them as family, and they have always treated me as one of their own. It was an experience that changed my life and in a way shaped my future – I have never stopped travelling after that (well.. now I have, but then again I now have a home, a husband, a son and step-daughter! It had to stop somehow…LOL).

Those who know me well will agree it is strange, but for some reason, a lot of my memories have something to do with food! LOL (No wonder I gained 40 pounds over there!)

French toasts before school at Vicki and Sandy’s home.  Their mother was extremely kind to me, and I will always remember those mornings.

Frozen DonutFrozen donuts heated in the microwave – I remember them so well I can almost taste them! I thought I had imagined them, but then I found Morton Frozen Donuts! There is even an article entitled “Bring back Morton’s honeybuns”.

Dad’s spaghetti with meatball – I loved those dinners. At first he was a bit impatient with me because I couldn’t do anything (and I really mean anything!)to help him in the kitchen (you should see me now, Dad, you would be proud: I can cook for 200!). Back then I was the typical spoiled Brazilian teenager…

Chicken FingersChicken Fingers – At one point, I went to a Chinese restaurant and someone ordered Chicken Fingers. I was so concerned “because we don’t eat chicken fingers back home”. Chinese food in Boston is very different from anywhere else. I hadn’t realized I was going to eat sliced, battered and fried chicken breast. I thought I was going to eat the actual “fingers” (or “tenders”), as they call them in New Hampshire.

And GREEN BEANS – oh my God… how I hate them! And Mom wanted to force-feed them to me – Mom, I still hate them (as well as grapefruit! But I have learned to appreciate a good cottage cheese after many years of trying…).

Black Beans Palardy Style– Trying to do something from Brazil, Dad cooked black beans for us all once. Susan very delicately pointed out they looked like rabbit’s pooh. Quite the lady she was Smiley de boca aberta… Well, they all hated it, and it was the last time black beans were ever cooked in the Palardy’s kitchen. I, however, loved them and was very touched by their effort to make me feel at home.

Boston Baked Beans – I saw a can of BBB and was sooo happy. Thought I was going to eat beans… but I was mistaken – I can’t think of many things as strange to a Brazilian as beans cooked with brown sugar! They simply are NOT cooked that way! And NOT served with hotdogs! I was sooo disappointed…lol

And the list could go on and on…

Thank you guys, I love you all.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vicki
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 11:16:20

    I cannot believe it has been 30 years. One thing you missed was when we took you for your first McDonald’s hamburger….for us American teenagers, it was quite a surprise that you had never eaten what we’d been practically raised on. I remember you holding that hamburger with the wrapper around the bottom looking out the window of McDonalds (u still had your parka on) at the snow… I think back I can’t imagine what was going thru your head except maybe “is it going to be like this the whole 6 months I’m there?”

    I had forgotten how good Mr. Palardy’s spaghetti and meatballs were until I read this too….


  2. Sandi (Leahy) Austin
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 11:31:18

    Patty – we simply can not be that old! Nice to hear that you are doing so well. The weather is great – come for a visit!
    take care-


  3. Bernadette
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 14:26:30

    I can remember so clearly that day we picked you up at Logan. I was amazed at how amazed you were at that frost on the car window.

    Oh, and I love black beans now! Especially black bean soup.


    • Patricia Lyra
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 19:01:45

      Ah! So you like black beans now?! Never thought of beans as an acquired taste…LOL
      I can never thank you enough for joining that exchange student program, and generous enough to share your bedroom with a stranger!


  4. Linda Rennie
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 17:47:54

    It cannot be 30 years. I remember your wonderful smile so clearly. You were always so enthusastic about everything, that it was always so nice to see you. When I made pancakes for my grandchildren, I told them stories about mornings at my house before school. I told them about you. I loved hearing about your family and country. Getting to know you was such a wonderful adventure. Thanks for reminding me about this memorable time in my life.


    • Patricia Lyra
      Jan 20, 2011 @ 19:04:22

      Dear Linda,
      How wonderful to hear that our mornings became “stories” – they were truly memorable. I was discovering everything, from maple syrup to “frozen hair”. In Brazil, because of the heat, I never blow dry my hair – NOT a good idea in Massachusetts’ cold winter!
      Let’s keep in touch!


  5. flyinggma
    Jan 24, 2011 @ 00:17:44

    It’s fun to hear of the exchange student experience from the student’s perspective. We hosted an exchange student from El Salvador in 1977. Our family loved peanut butter sandwiches. It was a favorite at our home. Claudia hated peanut butter.

    We drove a year later to her home in El Salvador and got to experience their foods and customs. Very different but fun. Jeanne


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