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Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's the United Nations of food at my house.

When we first signed up to take on a Chinese International student, the agent advised us to invest in a rice cooker. She said the sight of the familiar kitchen item would make our student feel at home in this strange land.  Well, I bought one. Still haven’t used it yet.
John and Martin are both not very fussy eaters. They will eat almost everything you put in front of them, but they do have some habits that seem a bit strange to us at first.
On one of the first days John was here, he said to me, cup in hand, licking his lips, “good milk.” I smiled, then later when I was in the fridge getting the milk I realized it hadn’t been opened yet. He had been drinking the coffee cream.
We went to the T&T Asian food store in Hunt Club one afternoon so that John could buy Chinese food to cook for us. He selected some pork legs, then we went to the fish section. Martin and his friend Mikal (also from Spain) watched horrified as John chose a live fish which was promptly thumped over the head with a mallet and placed in a plastic bag. Sudden exclamations in Spanish, complete with sound affects (BANG!) and gestures.
That night we watched as John cooked us a delicious meal that involved pork, fish and a white radish the size of your arm. He was a little disappointed in our glass-top stove, as he is used to cooking with gas. He was quite pleased to discover the old wok that I brought out of basement storage, however.
John loves to eat salad. I thought most Asians liked their vegetables cooked so I was pleasantly surprised to see that he will eat two large helpings of tossed green salad at every supper time. He also loves Catalina salad dressing. And salsa. And ketchup. Anything with a tomato base, it would seem.
One night we had traditional spaghetti bolognese (“Italy noodles”, as John calls it) for dinner. John got up to get something from the fridge and came back with the ketchup. He started to squeeze it over his plate of salad and spaghetti-with-meat-sauce as the Farmer and I promptly reacted with a “No!” John halted, his hand holding ketcup bottle in mid-air over his plate, and yelled, “OH!” It was hilarious.
“What?” he asked. I told him we really only use ketchup on hamburger s in this house. And meatloaf. And some people like it on their eggs.  He poked at the hamburger in the spaghetti sauce and looked at me, raising one eyebrow. Then he held up the Catalina dressing in his other hand. “I think this is the same thing,” he said, and proceeded to paint a wide swath of High Fructose Corn Syrup (ketchup) all over his dinner.
In our house, cookies are for breakfast. Both my Chinese and my Spanish student seem to agree on this point, and so I have been searching for the healthiest cookies available. Really, when you look at the sugar content in other breakfast foods, they are probably on the right track. So we have lightly sweetened almond and oatmeal cookies available for the boys, which they eat with milk. Sometimes Martin eats Rice Krispies and milk, but it has to be out of a china cup; not a bowl.
Sunday dinner is always a feast at our house, with close to 20 people in attendance. This is where Martin notified us last week that he had never eaten beef before. I think he probably meant he had never eaten roast beef before; I’m sure his family just prepares beef differently in Spain.
This morning it was Martin’s turn to cook for us. He had a recipe for crepes on his phone and he made them to perfection. The thin battered crepes were served with Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread and sliced bananas. I showed them how I eat them Eastern-European style with jam and sour cream. No one wanted the maple syrup except the Farmer. John got up from the table to get the salsa and we said nothing. Even when he spread it on his crepes, with a layer of Nutella on top.


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