Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mission Trips

We required that every son go on a mission trip before graduating high school. It is a cliche to say that those who go get more out of it than those who are theoretically being ministered to.

Here's an overlooked example that will appeal to parents.

Suburban children often grow up more fussy about their food. Children often have difficulty with the concept of foods mixing together, as in a sauce, or even touching each other. Further, items such as onions, mushrooms, and all manner of vegetables may be meticulously picked out of dinners. That is, when the dinner is not rejected entirely. All children do this, suburban children are worse.

Foreign missions in high school have a salutary effect on this. When Concord Christian visited a Jamaican orphanage, made heroic efforts to eat everything put in front of them, and still saw the orphans leap for the inedible parts tossed in the garbage, it made an impression.

The two Romanian sons, who spent much of their early childhood eating lard spread on bread augmented by whatever fruit they could steal, needed no curative in this regard. When they came to America they developed preferences and even things they would rather not eat, but when the chips were down, could deal with anything. Ultimately, they could say "Dude, it's food. Eat it." Chris even went off on his lunch table in high school always complaining about the food at one point. A sternish lecture on what food reality really was. When Chris sent MRE's from the Marines to his brother, in fact, John-Adrian never figured out the part about how the heating pack was included. Ate the meal anyway, though he confessed he didn't like it much.

Ben, by far our pickiest eater, found Jamaica and a summer working in Romania quite curative. Which worked out well, since he moved to Texas. Kyle...well, let's not pick on Kyle yet. His background was fast food or frozen prepared foods heated up, so he's still adjusting to the idea of food that people actually cook.

But Jonathan's mission trip was to a drug rehab in Chicago. It worked out well, as he met someone he admired from Asbury, where he, his wife, and Ben eventually went. But Chicago food doesn't stretch the suburban palate much. His toddler daughter was over for dinner tonight, identifying the spinach as "grass," and turning up her nose at Swedish meatballs. And he, foul parent, is not providing a good example.

We should have sent him on two trips.

This is the good stuff from Romania, BTW. Really.

Vinete, an eggplant salad (Vee-neyteh)

Mitetei, a tiny sausage. (Mee-tets)

Sarmale and mamaliga

Mamaliga, egg, sour cream, God-knows-what.


Dubbahdee said...

On a college mission trip to the Humboldt neighborhood of Chicago, some of the local kids took me to a bodega to eat late at night. They were amazed that I ate (and enjoyed) blood sausage -- Puerto Rican, I think. Fried Plantains and a few other things I don't remember. I'm pretty much game for anything even though I didn't grow up in Romania.

It seemed to make a great impression, and the kids thought I was pretty cool for a white boy. Of course, that's what it seemed like to me. Who knows what they were really saying en espanol.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

What? It's a cardinal sin not to like Swedish meatballs! That’s my favorite dish. I’d have to conclude that you and Mrs. AVI failed at the basics of parenting. As for odd foods – Newfoundland cod tongue anyone?

Gringo said...

Ben, by far our pickiest eater, found Jamaica and a summer working in Romania quite curative. Which worked out well, since he moved to Texas.

Has Ben told you the saying that in TX there are 3 major food groups: Barbecue, Mexican, and Chicken Fried Steak?

I can still hear my father gruffly saying,"This isn't a short order restaurant."

My yellow dog Democrat sister-in-law is the best cook I've ever known. She can take anything and whip it into a delicious meal in a short while, without recourse to a cookbook. One time some cousins and their children visited. Apparently they were not accustomed to such food, as they ate a lot of breakfast cereal during the visit- adults included.

In working and living in Latin America I made it a point of eating everything that was put in front of me. Except for the raw rocoto hot pepper in Peru that caused my heartbeat to increase- and I had been eating a fair amount of hot peppers- I had no problem. Though I do admit to never seeking out blood sausage [morcilla].

I take it as granted that most people would not like to eat the quantities of garlic and hot peppers that I consume.

That Romanian stuffed cabbage looks pretty good.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yeah, it is pretty good. The "little meats" are, too. The Romanian diet is largely fat, salt, and alcohol, however.

Of note: I long ago wrote about eating breakfast near Chester, UK, where two small hockey-puck-shaped items appeared on the plate, one greyish-white, one dark. My Romanian sons passed, which was enough discouragement for the rest of us.

Which reminds me of a joke...

GraniteDad said...

I am setting a good example for her- life's too short to eat bad food. Though I wouldn't have passed on the Swedish meatballs.

GraniteDad said...

I'll have to teach her how to pick out onions from sloppy joes next.

Gringo said...

AVI, my comment on someone passing on British food would be : what can you say about a cuisine that calls a dessert spotted dick?

Anna said...

Picky eaters drive me abso-fricken-lutely batty... and I have never even been on a mission trip. I was, however, one of four kids raised in a two-bedroom apartment.

If I go out with a guy and he exhibits picky eater tendencies, that is the last date. If I hang out with friends and they exhibit picky eater tendencies, I go out of my way not to extend any culinary hospitality to them.

Bear in mind here, that my generation is really the first wave of really picky spoiled brats that is coming through adulthood - I am the weird one.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Gringo, I gave spotted dick as a stocking present to my sons Christmas 2009. How can you not?

Anna, you may find yourself in the company of older friends a lot, then. Not that we're great, but there does seem to be a falling off with every decade.

Texan99 said...

We once tried to serve roasted wild ducks to our nieces and nephews. They couldn't even bring themselves to try them, apparently because they were so recognizably birds. They usually see chicken meat in nugget form. I'm always surprised, too, by how many people can't tackle a fish that still has bones in it, to say nothing of the head.

But I'm not to be throwing stones. I've never gotten used to the idea of eating things like offal or brains or testicles.

I thought much of the food in your pictures looked pretty good. Even the eggplant dish, which looked like something my dogs would toss up, probably tastes good.