Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Few Days Late

Caitlin created a feast.
I was the errand girl/bus boy.

She cooked a pumpkin pie with a vegan pie crust, stuffing, a chicken, green bean casserole with homemade french onions, gravy, mashed potatoes and coffee. I went shopping for the drinks, the deep fried chickens, and made a cucumber salad. Plus I washed the dishes.

I am stuffed.

It was fun having a very American meal with six Chinese friends. It was the first time for some of them to use a fork. I didn't realize how different we Americans eat a meal. We pass dishes so that each person can serve themselves using a serving spoon instead of eating directly out of the dishes with chopsticks. We fill our plates instead of having a bowl full of rice and a bite size portion of food. We have salt and pepper on the table. We eat bread with our meals. We drink coffee and eat dessert instead of eating a piece of fruit.

The food was very American but it wouldn't have been Thanksgiving if it was just me and Caitlin eating the Western food. What made it like a holiday were the friends. Conversational music is what a holiday is all about. Now don't get me wrong the food also helped.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day in China

Today I got a text from my students, "Hello Jen. Is today Thanksgiving Day?"

I knew Thanksgiving was coming up, but I had forgotten that it was today. Caitlin and I are going to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Saturday for a couple of our Chinese friends. Living in another country, it is easy to forget the specific day of a holiday. Since we don't actually get any of our holidays off, holidays turn into weekend celebrations.

Tonight, we decided to go out to eat to celebrate. We went to the all you can eat buffet that is 30 RMB ($5). They have plenty of dishes to choose from, cold vegetable salads, hot dishes, soups, hot pot, plus appetizers like popcorn, dried kiwi, cake with sprinkles. Also, you can drink all the beer you want.

It was a disappointing meal.

My favorite tastes of the evening were the lime juice, the hot coffee, and the 5 different types of green vegetables that I could cook in my hot pot of boiling broth.

Other volunteers are celebrating Thanksgiving together; however, we are FAR from other Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs). The closest volunteer is 8 hours on a grueling bus ride and the PCVs in Gansu aren't even celebrating Thanksgiving there which means we would have to travel even further. It isn't worth it to have two days of hard travel for one day of eating celebration.

It is all right. I don't mind. I have celebrated Thanksgiving in different ways depending on the country. In Guinea I rode 5 hours by bike to Labe to celebrate a feast with the Fouta PCVs in the Peace Corps regional house. It felt more like the Fourth of July than a winter holiday as we barbecued meat on the outside grill. In Burkina Faso, I rode 2 hours by bike to the neighboring city of Kaya to celebrate with some PCVs. We cooked in three different houses and even had a HUGE turkey. Now in China, with Caitlin's microwave sized oven and her two gas burners, we will cook a feast of delicious treats.

It does feel like the holiday season here though. It is cold.


Because of a recent gift, I have realized that I miss cheese and peanut butter. I didn't know I missed American peanut butter with its extra sugar . I knew I missed cheese. Every time I would go into Ouaga or Conakry, I would buy some cheese and my mouth would die from the flavor. Here in China at the nearby big cities that I can travel to, you can only find soft spreadable cheese.

At the end of January I am coming home to the tastes of the USA. I think I will live cheaply on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with ham and cheese. I only get like $12 per diem.

Living in China, I get a huge variety of food and don't miss food as much as I did in Africa. Here I can buy like 70 apples for $2. In Africa, one apple cost $1 and you could only buy them in the big city. The apples were imported from South Africa. Here students go out into the country and steal them off the trees.

At home, I hope to make dumplings for everyone. Dumplings are tastier than toe, an African staple.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weeks without

Internet in my flat has been down.
I don't know when it will be back up.