On Saturday, I had the good fortune to attend a cultural festival put on by military officers from more than 60 countries. They're all attending an Air Force school here in the U.S., and the annual event is set up to give American officers and their families a taste of the food and dress of countries they might never get to visit.
I was amazed at the variety of foods, but also at the many similarities among disparate countries. For example, I hadn't realized that rice was a staple for so many cultures. Yes, duh, but I never gave it much thought. My favorite was the saffron rice from Bahrain.
We had kimchi, something Greek with huge beans in it, chicken in peanut sauce, empanadas, quiche, and so many other interesting foods. I wish I could remember where everything was from.
The last thing I ate was Marmite on Saltine crackers. It's a spread–similar to the Australian Vegemite–that's apparently big in the U.K. The company's slogan is “Love it or hate it”. Quite apt for the brewed yeast mixture that tastes somewhat like bitter soy sauce. The verdict is still out on Marmite for me, but I'm glad I tried it.
I've enjoyed the opportunity to chat with the officers from Bahrain and Georgia (the country, comrade) that are in my husband's flight. Their stories are fascinating, and I love hearing about their lives at home and what it's like for them here. In my opinion, we all benefit from learning about other cultures and countries, especially if we can make a personal connection.
As much as I like to travel, there are so many places I'll never visit. I may not get the world tour, but at least I got a little taste of it here at home.