So one of the goals of Peace Corps is Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. I thought I would share where I had been successful with it and not considering food.
Well when talking with my h-sister Ronela, it became clear that she also at times would like a tad more variety. However when I told my h-mom Rafealina that when the tomatoes were ripe again (because I have been sing the sickly pink ones) I would make gazpacho, she told me something along the lines of she would stick with dominican food. Well I can at least say every once in a while lunch made in the house does not include rice, so that is something.
Let’s discuss specific foods. Brownies were successful, even with my failed attempt to turn them into Mississippi Mud Brownies. Not surprisingly, I could not find Fluff. I did get marshmallows and melt them down, but they failed to sink and therefore just made a gooey top layer mixed with a bit of the brownie mix. Although they were lacking in the presentation category, they were delicious and my english class and members of the h-family I shared them with all enjoyed them. I can say that confidently because they asked for more. So I say successful cultural sharing.
Next lets review the case of my version of a peanut butter sandwich. When I feel like a little something more to the sandwich I add a layer of doritos between the slices of bread with peanut butter on them. Of course there is absolutely no inclusion of jelly. So one night when eating the concoction Rafienny (middle h-sister) observed me and seemed to decide it was simply odd. Of course I have gotten the same response from Americans at points, so it was not a shock. But clearly a failure.
As I shared in a previous post I made my own birthday cake with the Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe from the Franconia Mennonite Cookbook, with only a tweak of the quantity of batter and double the recommended sour cream. This is my favorite type of cake and I was happy to share it with my h-family. I had a conference to attend before the cake was finished (after only 2 days of having it) and therefore when I returned to Camibita a few days later I was hoping for another piece. Although the amount of cake had diminished (a sign that they liked it) there for my happiness was one piece left. Also between then and now Ronelka (youngest h-sister) asked me when I would make it again. I say a successful share.
Finally I will look to tacos. According to Rick Bayless in his cookbook Authentic Mexican, the version I know as tacos would not be found in Mexico, so I will qualify my tacos as sharing American Culture. Even though I refer to them as tacos mexicanos because Dominicans use the spanish would tacos for high heels. So I made my own seasoning from a mix of spices I found on AllRecipes. I have for years been using Ortega Hot and Spicy after an accidental purchase, and therefore wanted to see if I could make something like that in place of the Old Paso seasoning that I find in Supermercado Nacional. The recipe was exactly what I wanted, although I may need to decrease the amount applied because it is slightly beyond my tolerance for spice level (it’s just not in my genetics) or I may keep at it and just bring a pitcher of water to the table with me. Along with the ground meat, I get shredded cheddar cheese, will take some white rice if available and pile that mix in a Tostito Scoop. Although they have questioned me with what is in the tupperware containing the seasoning mix, they have not asked to try. I have not put enough of effort in getting someone to try it, but for now I will call it a failure.
Although they are not really failures, I have helped promote a better understanding my culture in food preference, the Dominicans do not have to like it for it to be shared. I will end with the thought that if the deserts had failed to be appreciated, I would seriously question their taste.