Yesterday evening we had guests over for dinner. I made Sweet & Sour Tofu from a friend's recipe. She got it from her brother-in-law who is half-Japanese. To go with it I also made fried rice which my Sri Lankan neighbor taught me how to make. And our friends who came to dine - the wife is Brazilian and she brought this amazing Brazilian cake - homemade yellow cake with homemade dulce de leche between the layers, iced with Cool Whip and covered with coconut. The coconut she had dyed a kaleidescope of colors and had sprinkled on top so that it looked like a party going on on top of the cake - it was quite beautiful! And we had good ol' American lemonade to drink. Not until today did I realize how international our meal had been.
I really love trying out foods from different cultures. It really makes life interesting, you know? Back during my last year of French in college, our professor would bring in French food occasionally. The highlight of highlights was a guest from Senegal, Africa. He cooked for us and brought in this incredibly awesome food - Poulet Yasa (a chicken dish) with rice, and a couple drinks. One was this interesting red juice from a native berry. The other was room-temperature pineapple juice with so much ginger that it was very spicy hot to drink. I still dream about that poulet yasa. Mmmmmm.....
I think about food a lot. It might be because I love to cook and that it gets me out of bed in the morning. But not only that, food is such an international way of creating bonds. Food cements memories in our mind. It's a multi-sensory experience to eat food, and one that we shouldn't take lightly. Too many times I find myself rushing through a meal without pausing to enjoy the flavors, textures, smells, and time together as a family. I need to be better at taking more time to savor such good things in life. We don't eat cardboard, so why do we have to act like it by eating to just get it over with? (I am entirely guilty!) I try to be conscious of what is going into our bodies, and where the food has come from. I think being engaged with our food on all levels is an important part of life from knowing where our food has come from, to preparing it ourselves, and finally enjoying it with friends and family - a truly bonding experience.
(I'm going to learn how to make that homemade dulce de leche from my Brazilian friend - you make it in a pressure cooker! I'll let you know how that goes. And I might post that Sweet & Sour Tofu recipe later...)