Friday, October 23, 2015

Hidden Food

Our experience here continues to be a new adventure in various foods. Though they are not exotic and different to the point of feeling "adventurous" at every meal, there are certainly some things that are new to us and take a bit of getting used to. The kids, for the most part, are doing a great job of trying new things and have found a few new favourites in the process. We have had some excellent meals here, and it seems so much easier to eat healthy snacks than it is at home. I cannot even count how many cucumbers we go through in a week, and we buy carrots by the 2kg bag, and fruit every other day or so. Yesterday after school, the snack request was for cucumbers and carrots with herb cream cheese. I don't know what the flavour is...dill maybe?... but it's amazing. We eat a fair amount of that as well. And the requests for "please can I have an aeble? en paere? en banane?" are frequent. So much better than other things they could be asking for! (to be fair, we do eat cookies and popcorn also, but they most often request fruit or crackers for snacks)

Then there are times when we eat something and thing... wha.......?

For example, the other day we had tacos. The tables were filled with a variety of bowls with a veritable smorgasbord of options...tuna, root vegetable with raisins and apples (I'm not sure what it is...turnip maybe? It is shredded and looks like spaghetti noodles), green salad, taco shells, yellow bell peppers, mozzarella cheese, avocado, green onions, taco meat, boiled potatoes with parsley, dill, sundried tomatoes and feta (amazing!). We took some of the sides, and made our tacos and sat down to eat. The meat tasted different from what you might expect. Rather than being spicy and savory, it was a little bit sweet. Teriyaki?  Not sure. Several people topped theirs with tabasco. I opted for a bit of garlic-essence olive oil and added the potatoes with tomatoes and feta to mine as well, making it into a taco salad. But what was the meat? We all wondered at it for a while. It wasn't bad. Just...different. The kind of different where you take a bite, stop, and try to identify what you are tasting, but you can't quite figure it out. Anders said, "this meat tastes different from ours..." but yet he ate three tacos. So, I was impressed with him for that! He is not our adventurous eater. About half-way through the meal we discovered what the difference was...raisins! There were raisins in the taco meat. That was a new one. Apparently, from discussions with some of the students, it was new to them too. But, still, we ate until there were no leftovers. Again, it was just different. Not bad.

Then there was the day we had a pinkish salad. It looks so much like the cranberry waldorf salad my mom makes every year at Christmastime. I knew it wasn't that, but had high hopes anyway. I could identify there were apples and beets and raisins in it, and guessed that the dressing was some sort of creme fraiche or yogurt. So I took some. I have been eating several of the options with beets in them since we've been here, and most of them are quite good. This salad seemed like a good choice to go with the chicken legs and breaded fish with the awesome yellow sauce similar to tartar sauce. First bite did not disappoint. The beets and apples were quite good together. The second bite, though, something seemed off. Like the tacos, you had to stop and think...hmm...what IS this I am eating. And then it hit me. Herring. There was herring hiding in the beet salad. I looked back toward the table and noticed that the little fish sign (they put signs on all the meat so that people with dietary restrictions know what there is and choose accordingly) had fallen down before I'd gone through the line, and had since been set back up next to the bowl of beet and apple salad. Alas. Too late for my plate! Even now thinking of it makes me cringe. I just cannot manage to like herring. I picked it out of the rest of my salad and ate the apples and beets, but they all had sort of a fishy essence to them now.

Next week is vegetarian week. We'll see how that goes. We have had a couple of vegetarian meals so far, and the squash soup was absolutely amazing! We had a similar version earlier this week, it's very spicy, and perfect for chilly fall days. I like to put feta in it. I don't know if you're supposed to, but, it sure is good!

The pumpkin fairy stopped at our house yesterday afternoon and dropped off three pumpkins, so that was a fun and exciting surprise for the kids. We are planning to carve them over the weekend. Halloween here is more of a "season" than a day, and they don't go trick-or-treating. They have a similar type of activity in February, but in October it's more of a fall pumpkin-themed time of year instead of a costumes and candy sort. We got a fun package in the mail this week from Jeff's parents with small treat bags for the boys to bring to their class at school, as a taste of what American Halloween is like. It's fun for them to be able to share some of their traditions with the kids at school, even as they learn about the Danish traditions here too. We are planning to bring them to the school next Friday.

We have been collecting a lot of chestnuts from the ground each day as we walk. I'm not entirely sure what we will do with them all, but they sure are beautiful! It seems many people collect them this time of year. Perhaps they eat them, as I suspect some of them do. Others use them for decorations -I have seen a wind chime made of dried ones at the friskole, and Bolette's kids connected them together with toothpicks into a sort of snow-flake pattern. So we will think of something exciting to do with them also.

The kids also made fun ornaments out of some of the fall leaves at school this week. They gathered large stacks of leaves and threaded them onto thin wire, then twisted into a circle. Some of the older kids made very large ones like you might hang as a door-knocker. Ours seem an appropriate size for a Christmas tree. It was hard to explain to Anders the several reasons we will not be able to bring them home to Illinois with us next summer.

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