To to be invited to zakouski is quite a privilege. Zakouski is often translated as hors d’ouevres but there is a different connotation to the word. It really means “a bite after “. After what? Well, after vodka, of course. Ah, here is ice cold Absolut but also some strange combinations that I had never heard of; honey and pepper vodka. A group is assembled. Everyone is is good humor after the beautiful and peaceful vesperal service. Ah, such a choir! Well when most of the choir members are choir directors when they are at home, it is to be expected that there will be few mistakes and that there will be beautiful harmony. We come out of the little chapel and proceed to an old country house. So, we all sit on couches or benches and between us are low tables with shot glasses and plates of snacks. What snacks, you ask? Not chicken nuggets for sure! Little rounds of rye bread with cucumber or smoked salmon, little sausages, little pies. There is nothing sweet here. The low tables are covered with a cloth and someone has made nose gays that fit the atmosphere ; tiny flowers, a roll of tree bark, always something delicate and “of the country”. A school bell is rung and the host proposes a welcome and the first of the many gracious toasts to those of the company. The toasts have to do with events, personalities, recognition and then, a surprise! For once technology does us a favor! A revered member of the community calls on a speaker-phone and everyone rejoices to hear her good wishes. The traditional response to a good toast is a quiet but spirited ” hoorah!” How many, how many and for how many years have the toasts been proposed, evoked laughter, tears and that “anciene regime” hoorah. May it go on a while longer yet!