Dinner with Andry

Last night my friend Andry came over to my house for dinner and for studying. This time I had the opportunity to introduce her to some southern style cooking. The meal was simple for the sake of time. I cooked for her some collard greens and barbecued chicken wings. She made the rice, Peruvian style which basically was sauteed garlic and rice and then simmered in water. It was good. I just wanted to watch the expression on her face to see if she liked collards. It was her first time tasting them.

At first she tried to see if she could find a similar taste to something from her country. Then she said, "These are not bad, I'm just trying to see if I like it." Then she moved on to the chicken wings. She didn't tell me until after I put the sauce on the wings and served them up that she and her husband didn't like the flavor of barbecue sauce. I thought I was in for trouble. But I noticed that she sucked the juice and everything else from those bones just like the rest of us and that she had cleaned her plate so well that there was nothing left but those bones. I knew it was alright because she is very forward and would just say, "No, I don't like this but thank you."

She told me that the barbecue sauce that she and her husband had was in some restaurant. She liked mine because it had a little sweetness to it. I just re-make my sauce like my mom taught me: simmer vinegar and pieces of red pepper; add ingredients like the store-bought barbecue sauce of your choice, ketchup, and a little honey or sugar; the longer it simmers the less tartness you have. I know you can make it totally from scratch, but let's face it, who has the time these days?

My mom stopped by and gave Andry one of her famous miniature sweet potato pies and I gave her some of the best sweet potatoes I know that are grown from a farmer-friend of ours. They are better than anything storebought. I felt safe that Andry would find ways to use these sweet potatoes because of being from Peru, the potato capital of the world! Some friends from church stopped by and gave me three heads of collards for Christmas and even more sweet potatoes. I told Andry to just say the word and I would cook her up some, which is what I'm doing right now.

I just love spending time with people and making new friends. I have to agree with Andry, that you can learn so much about a person's culture through their food. And now, if she decides to go back to teaching in Peru, she can now tell her students, "Yes, I've had collards before!"

* We sort of took care of all of the evidence, but this is the best of what I could muster up!


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