International Food Nights

October 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

If you can’t tell already, I love to travel. Really, if you didn’t know this already, this must be your first time visiting my blog. I feel like somehow, travel winds itself into every story I post and every story I wish I posted. But, for me, travel is so much more than just checking places off of my list; it is about really experiencing a place. Some people just go to say they’ve been there, seen it, done it. I go to learn, to grow, to make connections. The people, the food, the culture, the celebrations. I like staying in a place long enough for it to become a part of me. I develop a passion for that place. Legitimately, it is a little insane. But, I’m ok with it!

In Poland, people celebrate their “name day.” Essentially, Catholicism is huge there, and the older population largely attends mass regularly. The young people seem more like the young people in America simply because there are some religious, but probably more who are not as much so. Name day is celebrated like a birthday; so really, Polish people get two great celebrations. Polish kids are usually named after a saint, in either a first or middle name. Saints have feast days, so name days are the feast days of the saint that the person is named after. I love this tradition. In fact, I love it so much that my kids will probably have a saint name for a middle name and we’ll celebrate their name day. If I decide not to have kids and get married, my brother and sister had better be ready to for me to nickname each of their kids with a saint’s name so that I can celebrate name day. I’m that serious about it.

In Costa Rica, the motto is “Pura Vida.” I remind myself of the simplicity of the Costa Rican lifestyle often. They focus on the necessities and contentment in life. They treasure family time and I loved seeing families spending evenings at the beach together, gathered around their father’s fishing boat, just enjoying the company of the ones they love.

These are just a couple of things I’ve learned, and brought back with me, from my travels.

Traveling also helps you realize how small the world really is. When I spend a lot of time in one place, develop a connection with people there and have the passion for the culture, I love to check the news regarding that country because I feel connected to the people that way and I search for ways to relive my experiences there. One of my favorite ways to relive my experiences is food. OK, well I am a bit of a foody, but I don’t think I’m alone on this food thing. The first time my friend, Christa, and I cooked Polish food, the smells took me back to the cafeteria in our dorm and with the smell came the feeling of being there, the sounds, the excitement. One little meal brought it all back.

So, Christa and I have decided to have more international food nights. We would love to stick to countries we have been to so that we can really “relive” our experiences, but that isn’t always an option. Work, school, and very small discretionary spending funds keep us grounded more than we’d like. Personally, I try to go places where I have a free place to stay and try to find flight discounts, but traveling is an addiction for me and I never really feel satisfied. I have to learn to be grateful for the experiences I’ve had and patiently wait for my next opportunity. But, I digress from my point. Since Christa and I can’t spend all of our time traveling (yet…there are business plans in discussion that would allow that), we travel through food. Last week: German. It is October so our own little “Oktoberfest” seemed like a great idea. Christa made Sauerbraten, we both contributed to the Spatzle, I made red cabbage and apple strudel. We didn’t love all the food, but we had a great time putting it all together. Of all things, the cabbage is what took me back to Germany. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve every eaten, but it was truly German…as was the beer. We decided to do these nights more often and we’re both anxious for the next one. Food is one of the best things to share with others who haven’t been to the location as well so they can get a little sense of the place. We get to cook together, linger over our food and inevitably, we end up telling stories about our travels, our friends (this time we talked about missing our German friends), and places we want to go. These little international food nights have become one of my favorite things and I can’t wait for Costa Rican next month!

Our German Creation

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