Thursday, March 3, 2011

Party in the U.S.A.!

That was the song played for us as we made our entrance into last night's "American Dinner". We were preparing American cuisine for some of Jay's classmates, and of course we were running late. When we finally got there the music was playing, and this was the song chosen for us to make our grand entrance. It made me smile.

In preparation for the dinner, we had a hard time choosing food that was dinstinctly "American." My favorite food is Mexican and since there's no Taco Villa around here, I couldn't treat them to a bean burrito or a meat burrito with green sauce. We bounced around several ideas, but most of them involved being baked in an oven (which we didn't have-stovetop only). We emailed our moms who both provided good ideas, but ultimately decided to do a shrimp boil. Problem solved. Right?

Well, sort of. One problem was we had to find corn...that took a visit to three grocery stores and a farmers' market to find the only eight ears of corn in Enschede. Very small chunks of corn in our boil!

We also needed some sort of seasoning mix. Believe it or not they don't sell Old Bay Seasoning here! We improvised by mixing our own. That involved finding a recipe online (easy enough), translating the ingredients into Dutch on the internet, and then finding them. We put them into a pocketed coffee filter, which worked so-so.

We also had to find a big stockpot...that one only took a trip to three different stores and way too many Euros. We now have our keepsake from our time here!

In spite of the challenges we had, the party was a success! Many of the students prepared a dish from their countries, so it ended up being a giant buffet where you could try a little of everything. It was all very good, and everyone wanted to make sure that I knew what they had made and where they were from. My favorite was this sweet rice from Sri Lanka. It tasted milky and coconut-y and just delicious!

Jay's favorite was a dish from Bhutan. It was good, but ohmygosh! it was like fire in your mouth. Here's a picture of me with the cook (notice I am sweating after my first bite of her dish)...

They also asked me to give a speech. I told them to be careful what they asked for because I was a teacher and could talk for hours on end. After that I was presented with gifts. The first was from Sammy, who is from Saudi Arabia. It is a candle burner/holder.

In true Hilleary-fashion, I dropped it as soon as he finished showing me what it was...thank goodness it's not breakable!

I also recieved a bracelet from Ethiopia.

Another very pleasant evening here in Enschede. We haven't experienced much of true Dutch culture yet, but we have been able to see a little bit of many other parts of the world. And what a treat that has been!

Tot ziens!

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