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Autumn from my window

Let’s see if I can post more regularly again and not wait for things to pile up.

I got contacted yesterday for another paid writing opportunity. I’m pretty sure I’m going to take it. I’m not quitting the other one. I’m just working more and more extra jobs. Hopefully I’m developing a career here as a food writer–enough to make a living on it one day.

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Wouldn’t that be great?

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Speaking of food…

I took some of my care package items from South Africa into class yesterday and held little seminars to introduce the kids to South African culture. The porcupine quills fascinated them from the start. Those things are really sharp. One poked me in the leg through my bag on my bus ride to school, and it still is sore.

I snipped little pieces of the licorice–which doesn’t have the strong anise flavor that I usually associate with licorice. It was more like a Twizzler flavored like Chinese medicine. Some of the kids liked it. Most didn’t.

Then I took out the big guns.

Marmite.

I had mentioned before that Marmite and Vegemite have their own chapter in Extreme Cuisine. I have been taste testing it occasionally since I got the jar a couple of weeks ago. To me, it tastes like beef heavily marinated in soy sauce. It smells like ass, though–you know, like you’ve rubbed your hand in the crack of your ass after working out and smelled it.

I showed the kids the jar and introduced it along with the chapter in the book. The kids know the book because it’s in my classroom “library.” They like to look at the scary pictures. I told them that they would finally get to try one of the items in the book and check it off their lists.

The kids were excited and nervous.

I opened the jar and showed them the contents from afar. A few already gave disgusted replies.

I took a small spoon and pulled a little bit of smudge out of the jar. Then I took the spoon around the classroom and had the students smell it. It knocked a few kids off their chairs.

Then I dared the kids to dip their fingers in the spoon to taste it. At this point, a couple (sissy little boys who usually act tough) totally refused to try it. The rest took a little and tasted it with trepidation. Immediately there were sour faces and requests to go get water or go to the bathroom.

Then a couple of brave souls went in for another try. I started a discussion on how different cultures grow up with different kinds of foods. In Korea, the smell was considered bad. Yet in South Africa, Australia, and Great Britain they thought it tasted good. Foreigners in Korea usually find the smell of dwenjang (fermented soybean paste), changgukjang (really nasty fermented bean paste), kimchi, and dried squid scary.

The kids said, “No. That’s good.”

I said that was because they had eaten it since they were little kids. I asked them to imagine smelling dried squid for the first time.

It was fascinating watching the little gears in their heads turn. You could see their little worlds expanding to encompass this new way to look at things.

Other kids followed the brave ones and tried the Marmite again. They spent the entire class dipping into it and licking it. They actually started saying it was good.

The spoon was licked clean.

They have requested and will get a Marmite sandwich party after their spelling test on Thursday.

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