Monday Meal Review: Marshall Islands

THE SCENE

Things are getting a bit hairy on this Adventure. I’ve tried not to mention it – to just carry on as if everything is ship-shape, flowing easily. Unfortunately, it’s not.

Somehow, over the last month or two, I find myself buried in an avalanche of unfortunate circumstances. I already told you about when I burned my hand, which thereby postponed the making of the Maltese cookies. But there’s been more drama that I’ve shared here, if only because I thought it was all just a temporary drag in performance. Now that it’s added up I feel as though I have to share – the five times Ava was too tired to try the food. Or too cranky. Or too full. The handful of times when Keith had to work late and I found myself sitting down alone to a dinner for four. The times when I burned the food and had to make it all over again.

It feels like a full moon all the time. Like the project is short circuiting.

So what to do about this, week after week?

My natural reaction was to make the food twice to be sure we could all try it. Of course, this stinks. It sucks up time when our family could be doing something else – like going to the park, zoo, or even on a hike. It’s emotionally draining to redo work every week for the last couple of months. That being said, I do think it is the honest thing to do; I want my entire family to try the food – this Adventure is not just about me, and never has been.

Well, even though I’ve been treading onward, these hiccups put my morale on the project at an all-time low, especially when this week it happened again. I made a feast and there I was, home alone until 9 pm while Keith was out, dealing with work.

Believe me when I tell you, Keith has no choice. Think of his work as helpdesk for the 911 phone calls you make… those calls that just might save you or your loved ones’ lives. He definitely has to go into work, rain or shine, regular hours, or after hours.

Even though I hate when he has to work late, I really can’t argue with saving lives.

Still, this week I didn’t really take his late work night in stride. I felt overwhelmed at the thought that I’d have to make some of the food again.

As much as I hate to admit it, I even cried.

Little did I know that making the food again was the greatest thing we could do. Let me explain.

Michelle and Alan join us to try the papaya.

Instead of simply buckling down to eat the meal by ourselves, we invited over our newly engaged friends to sample the papaya dish. I’d thought about also offering the macadamia pie, but it had been lurking in the back of the fridge for 3 days. It was questionable at best.

We ate and ate on the papaya. Finally, we gals migrated to the living room to catch up on wedding plans and other bits of our lives. As we sat there, we got thirsty, so I made a pot of Vanilla Ginger Bissap from Mali. Even the guys drank some, as they sat around the table, catching up on work, camera gear, and who knows what else. About an hour later, we opened up the last bottle of Lithuanian Honey Spirits and each sipped a shot (so much for saving them for next year’s Christmas presents – I have to make more).

As I sat there, full and happy, I realized I had just consumed food and drink from three countries. Without even trying. I realized that, even though the individual meals weren’t always going as planned, something much greater was happening.

I was starting to live a real Global Table.

Earlier that week I had made the Luxembourgish Green Bean Soup for dinner, and a few days before that the Pupusa from El Salvador. Then, there was the Saturday we all woke up to a hot cup of Red Love Latte from Lesotho (or tea with bubbles and cinnamon, as Ava likes to call it) served with Sunrise Biscuits from Malawi.  One day I made the Greek salad and served it with Froga from Malta.

An on, and on.

Turns out, as we steadily work our way through this Adventure, I am changing. We are changing – our entire family.

And not just on the days when we cook for the blog. On all the days.

Little by little, the recipes make their way into our daily repertoire. The experience is becoming more integral. We live it. We breathe it. My household is immersed in a fluid expression of international deliciousness.

In the end, I realized, it doesn’t matter so much if the weekly meal doesn’t happen exactly when we want it to – because, in the grand scheme of things, the Global Table is our daily reality now.

I’m not sure when that happened.

But I love it.

Sweet Potatoes & Fried Bananas [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

I adored the fried, buttery bananas with the comforting sweet potatoes. The dish is easy to make and would work well with nearly any meat dish, especially barbecue pork. A couple of readers suggested a sprinkling of toasted coconut on top and I think this would be a lovely addition.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing.

Baked Papaya with Coconut Cream [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

This was such an unexpected delight. The warm coconut milk goes perfectly with the hot fruit, and the pandan leaves add just the slightest hint of unusual, floral flavor.

What I loved least about this dish:

I think next time I’ll try even more pandan – it was a bit too subtle for my tastes.

Sweet Macadamia Pie [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

I think this is my new Thanksgiving dessert (this past year I had Tiramisu). I adored the natural goodness of honey and brown sugar as sweeteners (so many of these pies use corn syrup instead). Our friends Alan and Michelle actually did try this pie, despite being three days old, and mistook it for a professional, bakery pie. I cannot tell you how happy this made me because, unlike other desserts, there was practically no effort involved in the making of this pie.

What I loved least about this dish:

The bits of shredded coconut aren’t my favorite, but I’ve always had trouble with that texture. No one else seemed to mind.

Ava’s Corner:

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Comments

  1. Jessica Bennett says:

    Life is full of ups and downs and feeling alone and feeling loved. Without the downs, we wouldn’t enjoy the ups as much. And of course, it all depends on how we look at things. You seem to definitely know how to look at things in ways that work for you and keep you going strong. I love that your global table isn’t just a weekly blog but a mix of dishes through your life now. And it’s wonderful that you have others with whom you can share. That papaya looks delicious- adding to my list :)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thank you Jessica – the Adventure is definitely changing things around here… it crept up on me, but it’s so exciting to see how so many of these recipes have made it into our daily repertoire. Ava’s favorite soup is now the green bean one from Luxembourg and she pretends at the park that she’s making it :)

      • Jessica Bennett says:

        I have always made dishes from around the world because I love a variety of flavours, and I so appreciate your blog as inspiration. For instance, I’m taking a couple days off from work this week, and I decided to make your Eritrean lentil stew (in fact, it’s simmering as I type this).

  2. Collette says:

    I wish I had a dime for every meal cooked and things went wrong… but, that’s what leftovers are for. Keith might not be there to try it the first time but usually the leftovers are even better.

    Kids, they are all over the place when it comes to being hungry or too busy to want to eat or distracted. but eventually they do eat…

    never discount the value of leftovers when you don’t want to recook a meal. I think if it works well as a left over is important information, especially when the economy is so interesting right now and throwing away food is not really an option to some.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I know, right? ha…

      You are so right about leftovers… and lots of times we eat them.. (the pie was easy this week but the bananas and sweet potatoes… well, I snacked on the entire thing for lunch the next day, so I had to remake it anyway.. if I wanted Keith and Ava to get a chance to try them ;) But sometimes I like to save leftovers for my lunches and make them a fresh meal …

  3. I am so proud of you for keeping going! I look forward to all of your posts, even when I feel that I couldn’t pull them off myself. You have grown so much. The recipes are fantastic. The photos, website, and videos are awesome! Keep your chin up! You are doing an amazing thing! :)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thank you Megan! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the evolution – and I hope you find some recipes that suit you and your lifestyle, too :)

  4. Sasha- I’m sure you have no idea about how much joy and fun you are passing along. I so admire what you are doing and check on your progress almost everyday. You really are inspiring. The quality of your work and your dedication to this wonderful project are just wonderful. Thank you for taking us all along on this journey.
    hugs- Sitka

    • aunty eileen says:

      What everyone above has said is wonderful and true in my view, but if you don’t mind Sitka, I would like to 2nd your post to Sasha…. what I also know and feel in my heart… but, didn’t have the ability to put it into words.

      Congratulations to the ‘beautiful’ couple!

    • Sitka said it perfectly. I love your blog and all that you wrap into it – photos, stories, recipes, videos, more stories….it is a wonderful respite for a busy day. Keep going, don’t give up and be sure to publish it all in a book when you are done so we can continue to enjoy!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thank you Sitka, Eileen, and Paula – your support means so much to me. I’m humbled and grateful to have such faithful Adventurers cheering me on :)

  5. It’s inspiring to read about your progress!

    As this video shows, in the food blogging world, really good things can happen when you least expect them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr0wYFBMkDQ

    • Sasha Martin says:

      This scene is full of such tragi-comedy… poor Julia. She really reached her limit, didn’t she… sigh.

  6. The great things we accomplish are rarely all easy. You should go back and take a look at the reasons you wrote for starting the Adventure in the first place, I think you have already accomplished every single goal. You have a lot to be proud of!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks! Perhaps I need to add a few goals. My first thought is that it seems like the Adventure is naturally progressing from personal/family oriented, to more of a community/global scale project (speaking to school kids, organizations, and reaching out to encourage others to cook the world – to spread the love).

  7. It’s neat to see your special friends at the table again….
    hello to alan & michelle

  8. I’d try three day old pie from your house any time! Pie never lasts three days at my house!

  9. elisa waller says:

    oh man….shucks….life can be so unfair…..only that I wish I was sitting at the table too…looks delicious…good video too

  10. Please don’t ever give up on this project! We all get overwhelmed (I know I do, at least).

    Your site is like no other I’ve found. I may find myself going a few weeks without checking the site, but something always reminds me of your wonderful work and am once again drawn to reading each post from top to bottom. I’ve made several of your recipes and have loved every one of them. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be a family favorite, I feel closer to the culture of that country.

    That is what you’ve taught me, and I’m sure there are many others too shy or too busy to comment who feel exactly the same way. Thank you for your wonderful contributions and for making a site that I always come back to when looking for something special to put on my dinner table.

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