Mission experiences with food are often some of the most memorable
In Samoa in the mid-1960s there were quite a few things unfamiliar to American
palates, but many others like "palusami" — a baked combination of
young taro leaves, coconut cream, salt & onions — that quickly became
everyone's favorite; not so much the wide variety of sea creatures and
innards. However, it wasn't a problem for me but I was always surprised at
how many of the American missionaries had never eaten plain white rice before
arriving in the mission field: The Samoans would often mix it with
"koko" (chocolate, which grew there), and serve it as a "koko
alaisa" breakfast gruel. One of the stranger dishes I remember being served
was a bright-green parakeet soup, which our host was very proud of but I
couldn't help feeling sorry for the scrawny little namesakes that floated
in the broth.
My husband and I served as the office couple in the Baltic Mission from 2004 -
2005. Our Latvian food experience came early on - we were shopping in the
tirgus (open market) for items for our apartment. As the day wore on, we became
thirsty and were drawn to a large keg of something that looked like root beer.
My husband bought a cup and took a huge swig. It was not root beer, which is
too sweet for the Latvians. It was a drink called kvass. The nearest I can
describe the flavor is that it is like horehound. We learned later the drink is
derived from rye bread. I later developed a taste for certain brands of kvass,
but my husband could never get past that first shocking swig. Good times!
When I was serving in France, one of our missionaries sent home some Roquefort
cheese. His folks threw it out because had spots of mold all through it!
Another missionary serving in Belgium got a Christmas package from home with
packets of Knorr soup . . . which were manufactured in Belgium! My biggest
hangup was the milk in Paris: In the 1960s it was pasteurized but not
homogenized — ugh, lumps of cream! I got used to escargot and squid but
could never handle raw oysters.
While serving in the Philippines in 81-82 I had baloot which is a baby duck egg.
I thought id try it to see what it was like shortly after I arrived there and
tried it again before I came home. My gut had such a hard time digesting it both
times you'd think I would have learner the first time around but I never