Friday, September 11, 2009

How I'm doing so far

It’s been a busy week. It’s hard adjusting to the lazy days of summer and then jumping back to a school year routine. There’s been lots of running around getting things for school, signing up for activities, and battles at bedtime. John is now in the 6th grade and in french immersion, and Julia loves having a locker! She told me it makes her feel very grown up.

A friend of mine asked me how I’m feeling at this point in the process of eating the cuisines of 195 countries. The truth is, I can see this taking over my life but I am committed and there's no turning back now. I can't believe I'm still in the A's!!! (I still have Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria and Azerbaijan). I will be SOOO happy to move on to the B's!

What's great is my family is loving it - including Kevin. On Wednesday Kevin had to go out of town and when I told him I was going to do Angola that tonight and he was genuinely disappointed. As it turned out, I decided to do Angola on – Thursday.

There is also great news! My friend from South Africa, who used to live in Botswana, arranged for her friend to send me Mopane worms. They are a popular snack food in Botswana. Isn't that exciting? We'll just have to hope it gets through customs! Also, my friend from Burma is sending me Burmese recipes. Plus, I found a South African grocery store, here in Oakville, that sells ostrich meat! And the seafood Butchery here in town told me - that even though they have never sold conch meat - they'll find some for me if I give them a few days notice. I get so pumped up when friends and relatives tell me how much they like my blog. My friend, who writes my favorite blog "Parenting isn't for sissies," wrote an article on her Chicago Parent blog about my project. Last night another friend and her husband called and gave me great advice on how I can get the word out about my blog.

I am very excited about eating things I’ve never had, but I’ve realized that I don’t know as much as I thought I did about food – and geography. It’s been humbling.

For example, I told you in my Algeria post that I did not know what a rutabaga was. I thought it was this exotic vegetable that could only be found in certain parts of Africa. When it was in my Algerian recipe, I didn’t even bother looking for it at the grocery store. Well, today, I’m at my local grocery store buying things for my Antigua and Barbuda dinner and there, in plain day light, was a big basket of rutabagas! I was so excited that I decided to buy one even though I don’t need one anymore and, to tell you the truth, it didn’t look particularly good to eat either. When I went through the check-out line I was expecting the cashier to ask me what it was (in fact, I was kind of hoping she would) but she didn’t. She didn’t even take a second glance at it and quickly punched in the code without even having to look it up on her cheat sheet! Then I thought; okay, was I the only idiot who didn’t know what a rutabaga was?

For those of you who are as clueless as I am, a rutabaga is a large root vegetable also called a Swedish turnip. Rutabagas are not, as I had thought, some strange African vegetable, but in fact, from Europe. Apparently, they are widely eaten in North America as well. In Canada they are used as a side dish (This is what I have read. I have yet to go to a dinner party here in Canada where they serve rutabaga) and in the U.S. they are added to stews and casseroles.

During World War 1, many Germans were kept alive on a diet consisting of rutabagas. After the war, they were nicknamed “famine food.”

Cool facts about rutabagas:

In the U.K. and Ireland, before pumpkins were readily available, rutabagas were made into jack o’lanterns.

In Scotland, they were the ancient symbol of a damned soul.

I'm not even out of the A's and already my family and I have learned a lot about food and our world.

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