Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats

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‘Tis the season to feed and to be fed. Christmas and the surrounding holidays have got me thinking a lot about why we celebrate special occasions by feeding each other- our family, our friends, those we love, and maybe even those we don’t know particularly well. In the U.S. we don’t normally spend too much time in the kitchen, preparing, cooking, and plating labor-intensive dishes- but come November and December, we’re roasting 20 lb. turkeys, sugaring hundreds of tiny cookies, melting chocolate for ganache truffles, peeling apples for pie, and kneading all sorts of crusts and breads—all for the sake of others (okay, maybe we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor a little).

It’s an exceptional time of the year to be hospitable. But in other parts of the world, and in other cultures, hospitality is a year-round tradition, expectation, and joy. Since I’ve had the awesome opportunity to do a good bit of traveling to different countries, I’ve had the equally awesome opportunity to eat my way around the world, in the kitchens (and living room floors, and straw huts) of some of the most talented and generous cooks I’ve ever known. They’re not professionals, but their capacity to wow on an often limited budget is just as impressive as any restaurant chef—if not more. Here, a few of my favorite experiences… Continue reading “Feed your friends: 4 cultures of hospitality, grace & good eats”

Germany part 3: willkommenskultur

Don’t let anyone tell you that English and German are close cousins. After four weeks spent in small-town west Germany where the majority of townspeople do not speak English and my German does not go past “Hello” (Thank God we have at least one word in common), I am pretty much at the mercy of hand signals and Google translate to fulfill even the most basic tasks. However, look at the title of this blog post. Can you tell what it says? “Willkommen” sounds a little like “welcome” and “kultur” sounds a lot like “culture”. So there you have it: welcome-culture. In 2015, it was the word of the year in Germany, and it refers to the attitude of welcoming that Germans have adopted towards incoming migrants.

As immigrants continue to flood into Europe and terrorism simultaneously increases across the continent, it’s easy to become a little fearful. I’ve tried to imagine what it would actually be like to be German and to consider the future of my home as the face of the country rapidly changes. I can’t speak for Germans, but I can speak to my friendships with some of these immigrants, and to my knowledge of Arab/Middle-Eastern culture in general. And in my experience, it is the very same people who are forced from their home nations that are themselves warm, hospitable, and welcoming. Continue reading “Germany part 3: willkommenskultur”

Germany part 2: hope in the face of horror

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It seems like the world is going crazy. Terrorism, political crises, gun violence, fear and paranoia pepper the news, and it can feel increasingly like we’re in a world ruled by chaos and not control. I’m one country over from France, where a truck driver plowed into a crowd of hundreds on Thursday night, killing 84 people. I’m living in Germany, where one-fifth of the population is from Turkey, a nation where an attempted coup for power unraveled only this weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I ate lunch with a Yazidi family from Iraq, forced to leave their country because of Isis. Certain crises feel a little more immediate this side of the Atlantic, although tragedy is striking the U.S. too. Regardless, I am struck again and again by the seeming impossibility of maintaining one thing in the face of horror: hope. Continue reading “Germany part 2: hope in the face of horror”

Hope in the face of horror

Hope in the face of horror
Hope in the face of horror

It seems like the world is going crazy. Terrorism, political crises, gun violence, fear and paranoia pepper the news, and it can feel increasingly like we’re in a world ruled by chaos and not control. Right now, just one country over from France, where a truck driver plowed into a crowd of hundreds on Thursday night, killing 84 people. I’m spending four weeks in Germany, where one-fifth of the population is from Turkey, a nation where an attempted coup for power unraveled only this weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I ate lunch with a Yazidi family from Iraq, forced to leave their country because of Isis. Certain crises feel a little more immediate this side of the Atlantic, although tragedy is striking the U.S. too. Regardless, I am struck again and again by the seeming impossibility of maintaining one thing in the face of horror: hope. Continue reading “Hope in the face of horror”

Traveling solo: pros and cons

I first got my feet wet traveling solo during my semester abroad in Strasbourg, France. The third day after arriving, I got lost in a snowstorm alone, breaking me in for the next few years of my life, which would involve a) getting lost more than I want to admit and b) finding my way back every time, thank you Jesus. By now, I’ve traveled through Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium on my own, mastered the art of bus, train and airplane schedules and learned to navigate my way through any city (visual cues are the key).

 

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Paris, in the winter

Continue reading “Traveling solo: pros and cons”

Why you should (or shouldn’t) travel solo

I first got my feet wet traveling solo during my semester abroad in Strasbourg, France. The third day after arriving, I got lost in a snowstorm alone, breaking me in for the next few years of my life, which would involve a) getting lost more than I want to admit and b) finding my way back every time, thank you Jesus. By now, I’ve traveled through Morocco, Spain, France and Belgium on my own, mastered the art of bus, train and airplane schedules and learned to navigate my way through any city (visual cues are the key).

 

Paris

Continue reading “Why you should (or shouldn’t) travel solo”

Germany part 1: no fear in love

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I don’t know if it was the first time I had ever met a refugee, but I do remember the first time I met a refugee from Syria. I’m sure somewhere in my twenty-something years, I’ve met someone who was forced to leave their native country because they were unable to live, work, and love in the place called home. But it probably didn’t mean anything to me. Maybe I even thought they were lucky to have left, considering living in their home country sounded like a nightmare.  I couldn’t see and didn’t understand that home is still home, regardless of how bad it is. The reality of it didn’t hit me until I heard Sam’s story. Continue reading “Germany part 1: no fear in love”