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Home > Blog > Eating our way to peace and understanding
Out of Our Minds
Sunday, August 01, 2004 1:40 PM
Eating our way to peace and understanding
Anita Sharpe on Culture

Almost all of my son's favorite foods originated in countries that are politically out of favor with the U.S. A few years ago, I had the only 9-year-old I knew who craved escargot; we ate at a small French restaurant virtually every weekend for several years.

In the last year or so, he discovered Middle Eastern food, so we eat at a local Persian restaurant a couple times a week. Last night, he added Cuban food to his menu of favorites; I see lots of chicken tortilla soup in my future. (I love exploring restaurants, so I don't know what I would have done if I'd wound up with a Cheerio's-and-chicken-fingers kid.)

Much more than his palate has been broadened these past few years (no, I'm not talking about his waistline.) Eating at small restaurants run by nice French or Middle Eastern families, he can understand in a way that I could never teach him that people are not the same as their governments.

He can see viscerally that most people want the same things -- to share a good meal and conversation; to create something, such as a restaurant, that provides a living for themselves and pleasure for others.


anita - 8/2/2004 8:12:51 PM

I had a hunch that was the case after I wrote it. I'm a huge fan of Cuban bread and Cuban sandwiches, which we also ate the other night. I wasn't sure about the country origin of the soup -- but it was quite tasty. What a food-fusion world we live in. (Tonight we had Japanese.)
Evelyn Rodriguez - 8/2/2004 7:18:35 PM
Thanks so much...I love stories that demonstrate we are all kindred spirits and practical ways to experience that and get to know diverse people. I also had to correct you as my parents are from Cuba...chicken tortilla soup is Mexican! Cuban food is fairly simple blend of continental Spanish and Caribbean influences. There are no tortillas in Cuban food (I suspect tortillas are indigenous Mexican/Central Am influence). Try Cuban bread, yucca, fried plantains, black beans and rice, ropa vieja, beef empanadas and paella and spread crackers with guava paste and cream cheese.
anita - 8/2/2004 12:33:40 PM

Your name came up recently at lunch with Rick and David B. I'd love to get together and catch up when you have time -- perhaps with the boys at the leading chicken-finger eatery in Atlanta.
Heather McClain - 8/2/2004 12:20:53 PM
As the mother of three chicken-finger eatin' boys, I'd like to offer that they've expanded their geographical horizons (but not their waistlines) by aiming to find the Best Chicken Fingers in the country. To that extent, they've eaten them in Atlanta, on Martha's Vineyard, in Seattle, in the Rocky Mountains, in Vancouver. (Seems like the title of Best is closely tied to how hungry they are at the time.)

Our collective family opinion: The service industry stinks!

The survey continues. Will update when Peter graduates from HS, which will be in 15 years. Sigh.

Hello from an old friend.
Kate - 8/2/2004 9:20:14 AM
How fantastic that you have shown your son early in life that the first reaction to different-tastes, flavors, cultures is not 'Ewww!' but 'Mmm, I'll try it.'


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