All posts filed under: Monday Meal Review

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Monday Meal Review: Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

This week we brought our Global Table to Keith’s parents’ house in southwest Oklahoma, where we ate with his mom, his aunt, and his uncle. His childhood home sits under the glinting autumn sun, surrounded by dusty golden grasses and emerald green wheat. There’s a half mile (or more) in all directions between the house and any other structure, at least that’s the way it seems to me. At night the stars act as streetlights. It’s quite the retreat. Keith’s mom was able to use some of her family china to set the mood and I brought some rust-orange leaf place mats that my mother gave me. The warm autumn colors went perfectly with the pumpkin and coconut cream soup. Eating our meal off of plates and mats which have cycled through dozens of special meals made me feel connected to the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving… the importance of family. I loved seeing the three siblings come together from miles apart for this meal. While we ate the Global Table the Friday after Thanksgiving, injecting the …

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Monday Meal Review: Saint Lucia

“I don’t like nutmeg,” a willowy, blond girl of about ten whined. Her mother looked reproachfully at her. “Have you ever tried it?” I asked with what I hoped was an encouraging smile. “No,” she quietly replied, eyes downcast. She stood with one hip turned away from me, as if my slightest move would send her scampering away. “Well, here, smell it,” I said as I picked up the whole nutmeg and passed it to her. “Isn’t it amazing?”  The nut was about one inch in diameter and was round except for a flat spot where it had been grated by dozens of kids throughout the afternoon. The girl jerked back her head and furrowed her brow at the prospect, but after a particularly stern look from her mother, she dipped her head close to the nutmeg and gave a tentative whiff. She scrunched up her nose distastefully. The mother seemed bothered, but I simply said “Good for you. Now whaddya think about grating some of that nutmeg on your Cocoa Tea?” and added “This is …

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Monday Meal Review: Saint Kitts and Nevis

Do you ever wonder if you need to get out more?  While I keep stumbling into serendipitous connections in Tulsa, like the young book salesman from Bulgaria who knocked on my door the same week I cooked his country and the Finnish mother I ran into the same day I was to cook Finland, I didn’t really expect to find the same thing during our brief 4 night stay in New York City. Who was I kidding? I should have known better. It is New York City, after all. On our first bleary eyed morning in New York I asked Keith’s cousin, Kelly, about where I could go grocery shopping. I told her our meal was from Saint Kitts and Nevis, in the Caribbean.  She glanced out her tall, sunny windows, over the shimmering city below and laughed. She cocked her chin to the side, and added “Every other shop around here is Caribbean.” I searched her eyes, looking for a twinkle of mischief but there was none. That afternoon, as we walked through the blustery …

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Monday Meal Review: Rwanda

We officially have less than a year remaining in this Adventure. Unbelievable. In the very beginning (February 2010), our Global Table Adventure was about eating a better, more varied diet, especially for our then seven-month old baby, Ava. Cooking the world was also about making life in Tulsa a little more tolerable, while daydreaming about other places. I was escaping. Hard. Now? Well the name is the same, but the Adventure has evolved in ways I could have never anticipated. Izína sí lyó muntu. This Rwandan saying means that “the name doesn’t make the man.” Or in this case, the “Adventure.” Case in point, Global Table Adventure is a nice name, but it doesn’t reveal much about the long years we’ve lived with this challenge. It doesn’t say anything, for example, about how appreciating the rest of the world has really made us appreciate our home more. Sometimes you have to look far to find the treasure on your own doorstep. Nor does the name hint at the community we enjoy around us. We learned an especially …

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Monday Meal Review: Russia

This week we took the Russian Potato Salad to a potluck event in downtown Tulsa called “Open Tables” where individuals of different religions and belief systems gather to share food and company. It was my first time. While the discussion would have been fascinating (we were encouraged to talk about our differences), my table – through a series of prior commitments, baby bedtimes, and no shows – had completely vacated by the time discussion started. And so it came to be that, while the room chattered on, I sat alone at my table, thinking about the evening, staring at my empty plate. I briefly considered switching tables to join another group but the longer I sat there, the more I realized that the food had already done the job – no words were necessary to learn about our differences. Earlier that evening I had slipped our potato salad into the mix between a giant steaming bowl of biryani, spicy chickpeas, cinnamon-laced kugel, and goat stew. The variety was intoxicating. As I filled my plate, a casserole of neon green lime …

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Monday Meal Review: Romania

THE SCENE Pleasure is spread throughout the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find. (William Wordsworth) I spend hours daydreaming about other countries – about how beautiful they are, about the incredible food they eat. Every week I take my family to one of these countries via stovetop travel and we imagine the joy we’d have living life in those countries. But I’m increasingly uneasy with this set up. I’ve had trouble pinpointing my discomfort, until the other day when my issue hit me like a ton of bricks. Part of loving the world we are in… well… it’s loving the world right where we are, right now. To quote a lobster I know: The seaweed is always greener, in somebody else’s lake. You dream about going up there, but that is a big mistake. Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you, what more are you looking for? (“The Little Mermaid”) Truth is, I’m a lot like Ariel, more focused on …

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Monday Meal Review: Qatar

This week we hosted a Fairies around the World party. There were two main reasons, only one of which had anything to do with fairies. First of all, the party was a way to quell my motherly distress over the fact that my husband, my daughter, and I all have birthdays in the middle of summer (which, in Oklahoma means suffering through 112 degree days). In other words, we have no other option than to spend our birthdays submerged in water (or suffer in air conditioning, which I have little interest in). As a result, I’ve not been able to provide theme birthday parties for any of us. Don’t get me wrong – at one time a regular birthday party with a few stray balloons seemed perfectly normal… but something changed post-Pinterest. Now everything must have a theme, even pencil holders. And the litter box (yes, really)… oh, and don’t forget about the cat bed. (p.s. none of these pins actually made it into my house). I’m so entrenched, I now create Pinterest boards like “rainbow birthday parties” …

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Monday Meal Review: Portugal

The older I get, the harder it is to find time to give. I am so wrapped up in my own life – my own business – that I forget that the easiest way to make the world smile is to give back. There’s a Portuguese proverb that reads: What is bought is cheaper than a gift. I had to reread the proverb several times to really grasp the meaning. I don’t think it means that we all need to be on Pinterest, super-crafting gifts for everyone (although that’s fun, too). While the proverb implies that a gift  cannot be bought, it also leaves it open to what constitutes a gift. Perhaps it could even be the gift of spending time together. Or really listening to someone unload their troubles (without the need to solve anything). Or maybe a gift is cooking something together for someone else. During this week’s Portuguese Global Table, Ava and I stood elbow to elbow. We giggled as we patted the soft dough into small squares, topped them with smoky chorizo sausage, …

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Monday Meal Review: Poland

I never expected a picnic to be so difficult. There’s a Polish saying, “Bez pracy nie ma kołaczy,” which means “Without work, there won’t be supper.” This was most definitely the theme of our week at the Polish Global Table. For starters, I spread out the cooking of each dish over the course of three days, slowly making each one when I could find the time. When I finally finished cooking, we took the apple pie to the park to share with friends. Keith didn’t catch much of “the scene” on camera, so I’ll have to relay it the best I can. After our first game (ever) of Frisbee Golf (which was quite fun, actually), we set up our picnic under a covered gazebo. We ate our meal with gusto (Ava was particularly hungry, since she had eaten her breakfast at some ungodly pre-dawn hour).  The breeze was mild and the sun was shining. Simply lovely. As I rummaged in our picnic backpack for the Tupperware filled with Polish apple pie, I heard footsteps. I looked up to find a serious looking …

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Monday Meal Review: Philippines

We all have mountains to climb  (or, since this is the Philippines’ week at the Global Table, we all have volcanoes to climb). To cook the Philippines, I rolled two dozen lumpia shanghai, simmered pork adobo with a house-cleansing formula of vinegar and bay leaf, and slurped on bubbly, ooey, gooey sago at gulaman. And none of it was easy. Every step of the way, I felt like I was trudging on the steep side of a cold volcano. Until I got to the vista. You see, this week’s cooking was made difficult by the fact that I had something else on my mind: I was scheduled to speak in front of 350 people at the Global Vision Dinner presented by the Tulsa Global Alliance. What an honor! What a treat! And, considering I’d never spoken to more than 35 people at one time, I was incredibly nervous. My shaking hands and bad dreams told me, this was an opportunity for growth if I ever there was one. So, I practiced the speech walking home …

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Monday Meal Review: Peru

THE SCENE Ava’s on to us. When we pull up to the dining table on Thursday nights she knows. It’s Global Table Adventure night. In fact, she strung together these words for the first time this week: “”Gwobal” Table Adventure (“can I go there, mama?”). When a three year-old child knows that she is expected to try an unusual meal every week, one of three things can happen. 1. She can go for it wholeheartedly. 2. She can eat with normal interest/disinterest, depending on the day. 3. She can rebel. With tears. Man, that last one’s a doozy. Two and a half years ago, when we started this adventure, Ava simply ate what we gave her. Sure, she spit some of it out (she was a baby after all), but overall she was more open than we were to trying new foods. She had zero preconceived notions. Now that she’s hit the ripe ol’ age of three, Ava is way less accepting than she used to be. While still extremely open minded compared to her peers, she’s …

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Monday Meal Review: Paraguay

“Here at last,” I think, as we pull up to our cabin at Beaver’s Bend State Park. I gaze up at the tall, skinny trees and then down to the sturdy stilts which keep the cabin from falling into the river below. They are the same circumference. A familiar smile curls my lips and I look back at Ava. She’s staring out the window in awe. Here is our little house on the water. A space to listen to the birds, feel the breeze, and watch the seasons change. For four days, at least, until the next family comes to call it home. The cabin reminds me so much of the house we almost bought two years ago. The house that “got away” from us (due to failed inspections). They look nothing alike, but feel the same. The spirit of a house on the water is so different from a landlocked house; the water sliding past your window can easily trick you into thinking you’re continually traveling, exploring, moving. I’m still entranced by the view when …

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