Monday, March 31, 2014

What's on the menu when PNGns come for dinner?

What do you serve when you have Papua New Guinean dinner guests?

Tonight we will be having three Papua New Guinean guests for dinner, none of whom we have ever met before.  We volunteered to host a few members of a translation committee that will be spending the week in Ukarumpa for a spiritual retreat.

I'll confess, having nationals over for a meal always requires a bit more thought then when we host other expats.  Our typical diets vary so differently.  We Americans love to have variety - lots of it!  Many Papua New Guineans eat the same thing every single day, and they like that!  One of our primary school teachers told me that when she asked her students to tell their favorite food, a Papua New Guinean girl spoke fondly of kau kau (sweet potato) roasted on the coals.  It's probably what she has had for breakfast nearly every morning of her life.

Americans like flavor, spice!  Papua New Guineans prefer bland food, and the only condiment that is regularly used is salt.  Americans love cheese - everything is better with cheese!  Papua New Guineans are suspicious at best of most dairy foods.  Why would people want to eat solid milk?   Disgusting!

In my experience, having nationals in our home is always slightly awkward anyway, if only for the reason that Papua New Guineans do not typically spend time inside other people's homes.  Most social interactions take place out of doors, or on a verandah.  So you definitely don't want to invite your national guests to take a tour of your house when they arrive.  They don't want to see your bedroom!

So tonight I'm trying to come up with a meal that will blend two different ways of eating.  Not that we haven't served PNGns American-style food.  We've served pizza to house guests when they showed up unexpectedly and that's what we had planned for dinner.  Brian admits that he gets a sort of guilty pleasure when he sees Papua New Guineans struggle to politely eat Western food that they don't particularly like.  It reminds us of many times when we have been in villages and have been served things that we didn't particularly like!

So here is what we're having for dinner, and please keep in mind that all these things I'm saying are generalizations.  They don't describe every Papua New Guinean, and there is a pretty good variety in people's tastes throughout the country.

Rice... a LOT of rice.   We are always astounded at the quantities that our PNG friends can put away.  Most PNGns don't eat rice every day, and so it's a bit of a treat.

You can't go too far wrong with root vegetables.  I filled my crock pot with chicken, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and beans to make a sort of soup/stew that can be served over rice.  It's got enough flavor to make us wait skins happy,  but not so much to be overwhelming.

A big batch of rolls.

 Salt on the table.

 Banana bread is always a safe bet for dessert - sweet but not too sweet.  PNGns are not as concerned as we Americans are about ending a meal on a sweet note.

Here's hoping our little dinner party is a pleasant one!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 25

Hello again.  Here is a look at the past week:

 A rainbow around the sun

 Little, beautiful things

 An airplane, hastily made from a box for our little aviator.

Anyone need some lettuce?  I have quite a bit in my garden.  (Seriously, Ukarumpa friends who read the blog, feel free to stop by for some lettuce!  I like salad, but not that much...)

Waving goodbye to daddy's airplane in the early morning (you can just see the tiny speck to the left of Greg) as he goes to Madang for a few days to do some work on their generator (again!).


I joined the steering committee for the Markham Multi-Language project.  The paperwork doesn't look very interesting, but our first meeting was exciting.  This is one of the multi-language, or "cluster" projects that our branch decided to really focus on as a result of the Multi-Language Initiative conference held in January.  There are currently two families working with two related languages, but there is a potential of having up to 14 different languages (represented by the blue on the map there) involved, working together to do translation.  As a part of the steering committee, I get to help encourage, advise, pray for and keep the team accountable.  I'm very excited to be involved.

 Last night we broke out the candles after dinner.  We were without power for a few hours (I'm not sure how long... I woke up in the middle of the night and turned out the light in the boy's room, which had been left on, so the power came back sometime after I went to sleep.)  As far as I could tell, ours was the only house on the street without power, though I know that I wasn't the only one in Ukarumpa.  This is not a complaint, because typically our backup generators work very well, and our power is really quite reliable.  We're thankful for the guys in the CAM department who were out there working on the problem.  I can't count how many evenings Brian has been out there in the dark trying to work on generators!

 We picked a ripe suga frut in our backyard this morning.  Caleb couldn't wait to devour it - he loves those things!  It's a variety of passion fruit that is just sweet and not at all tart.  It's delicious!

 We're still into matching, even if it means long sleeves on a sunny day.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 24

Our week started off with a swarm of bees.

 The bees decided to take up residence inside our gas barbecue on our front porch (which can be seen through the window).  After Brian convinced them that it was not a good location for a nest, killing a large number in the process,  they still swarmed around the porch for a few days. Last Saturday they decided that they would try to come inside the house, through our dining room window, which doesn't have a screen.  The louvers don't shut tight enough on this window to keep bees from crawling in, so I resorted to stuffing rags in the cracks until they eventually gave up!

 I was watching this scene one evening and suddenly it struck me that I ought to take a photo.  Sometime, in the not-too-distant future, my boys will look back on this photo of them playing Angry Birds on daddy's iphone as sooooo old fashioned.

 A parking garage made of Duplos was the favorite toy for a few days, until eventually one too many sibling squabbles over which level the cars ought to parked on demanded it's immediate disassembly.

 You can't let a little rain and mud discourage you from digging in the flower bed.

 And what is more fun that mud puddles after a good rain?

Someone is going to need a bath!

 When he's sleeping, he still resembles the baby he was not too long ago.  Has to have Froggy and a truck when he goes to bed.

 Anyone doing taxes lately?  We get to do two sets - US taxes and PNG taxes.  We have an automatic extension to file US taxes, so we haven't gotten around to those yet, but we did get our PNG tax forms done this week.

 Caleb enjoys the new "jumping stump" - a fringe benefit of having our tree cut down.

 A new playground near the store was recently completed, and the boys have been loving it.

 And finally, sunrise this morning from our front porch.

See you next week!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 23

Sorry, I don't have too many photos for you this week.

 Caleb turned 18 months this week.  Check out his one year post for comparison.  Or here is Greg at 18 months.

 It's so hard to get this boy to smile for the camera...

 ..but I finally managed to get one by letting him play in the back of the truck.

 The tree trunk is now on the ground, and we're now very glad it came down.  You see how the center of the trunk is a lighter color?  That's all rotten... it crumbles when you poke at it.  There was only a 6-8 inch ring of healthy wood around the outside.

Thankfully Brian has friends who like to come over for a little "chainsaw therapy."

 Caleb enjoys drawing - very different to Greg, who has never had a very strong interest.

I bought a small set of face paints at the store this week.  Greg refused to let me paint his face, so instead I amused the boys one afternoon by decorating my own face with different designs.  This one was Greg's favorite.

That's all for this week!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Photo Fridays: Week 22

Is it Friday again already?  How did that happen so quickly?

 Greg continues to keep an eye on the ants in the wall.

 Performance week is here for The Importance of Being Earnest.  Here are the costumes I did for the show.  It has been a lot of fun, but I'm glad it will soon be over.  Brian is glad too - he's hardly seen me this week!

 Scraping a coconut for use in homemade granola.  This type of coconut scraping bench is the standard here in PNG, although here in the Highlands we have to have coconuts trucked up from the coast.  In many coastal areas, coconut milk is made daily for cooking root vegetables in.

I was thrilled that Caleb and Greg played Connect Four so nicely together.  (Playing the game with Greg involves Greg telling you exactly where to place your piece, and woe to you if you try to make your own decision!  Luckily Caleb was content to follow directions.)

Brian has been using a chainsaw to cut up the logs in our yard.  It's loud for little ears!

I was trying out some new lens filters on my camera and discovered that I got more interesting photos with it off the camera.

Taking a walk with Caleb involves stopping often to pick up rocks.

A little late day sun.

I let Greg "help" me clean the windows.  Of course, he soon tired of squirting the water just on the window louvers...