Enjoy foreign food: be a good American

Enjoy foreign food; be a good American

There is so much good in traveling, that it takes more than one column to name it all, and then that doesn’t reflect individual experiences.
But one item of goodness-in-travel is the food of different cultures.
I cannot wrap my brain around how some American’s – and I have witnessed this first hand – complain about the food when in a foreign country.
Food is part of the culture and I want to experience it to get the whole picture.
You can look at the menu and find something you’ll like to eat if you keep an open mind.
So, when I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, sitting in the restaurant and hungry, looking at the menu, the first thing I saw was, “beef with ants”.
Not wanting to be an ugly American, and to practice what I preach, I didn’t go, ‘yuk’. Of course I was sitting alone, so there wouldn’t have been anyone to collaborate with me anyway.
Beef, chicken and fish, all without insects, were found on the menu.
I opted for the fish.å
It came on a plate, very large, and complete with the head still on it with an eye, looking up at me, daring me to eat it.
The skin was still stuck to the creature, so the waitress, showed me how to peel it back.
It would have been enough for four people.
Then there was that restaurant in Cuba where a taxi driver took me, and where he got a kickback for taking the American lady there.
When I walked into the restaurant, I was amazed to see exotic animals in cages, squirmy things, feathered critters, some animals with horns, and then I was offered a seat inside.
The menu was handed to me, and there, right on the page, were the animals I just saw.
So, in that restaurant, I opted for soup. It was a weak broth with green beans floating on top.
Cuba was experiencing a lack of food, and it was probably worse in Havana than out in the country. Much of what was available in the restaurants was pasta and cheese.
That seemed a better choice than, say, a lizard.
Foreign food served in another foreign country is another favorite experience. Take for example, the personal pan Italian pizza that had a nearly raw egg dumped on top of it in a fancy Paris restaurant.
When in a small fishing village in Iceland, I found in a small grocery store, to my surprise, Mexican ingredients in cans and boxes. I never did learn if anyone purchased it.
A Mexican, in the German restaurant where I went with friends, wouldn’t have recognized Mexican food. But it was delicious in it’s own right.
This leads me up to the Moroccan dinner I prepared for friends one night this week.
I’m not known for my cooking, so whenever I attempt to cook for someone else, I practice first. It’s always perfect when it’s just for my enjoyment, but the stress of cooking for someone else, leads to disaster.
Once, with this recipe, for company, I burned the rice, and this week, I put in too many yams in a yam, carrot, onion and prune dish, and it was a bit too sweet, but still tasty.
Cous cous was used instead of rice, and it cooks fast so standing next to it on the stove isn’t troublesome.
Moroccan food is spicy in herbs and in combinations of vegetables and fruit. Here is a list of Moroccan spices to get you started.
Ground cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne, allspice and cloves, salt and pepper.
Leave out the ants, in the Moroccan dish.

4 Responses to Enjoy foreign food: be a good American

  1. I think the “ants” are bits of black pepper, indicating a dish seasoned with black pepper and thus “hot.” One of my favorites is a “Chinese” dish called “Ants on a hill.” It’s bits on chicken on rice with lots of black pepper. But too “hot” for American palates, it tragically disappeared from the menu.

    Enjoyed your blog. Thank you.

    • Martha: Thsnks for your comment.I see that you haven’t spent time in Cambodia. The ants and other insects are items on the menus.

  2. Tell us what the food is like in Alaska when you return from there. Ronald Revere wants to know how many reindeer are still roaming the countryside.

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