Tonight for dinner we had your standard Americanized tacos. Tortillas, seasoned ground beef, refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. Pretty tasty. Devin and I always finish up pretty well the tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese, but we are not big meat eaters and so even though we always cook our meat in small portions we have large amounts of meat leftover that we use in creative ways throughout the rest of the week. We also always cook too many refried beans, but that's because Devin loves his refried beans. Tonight we had them from scratch, and Devin said, "I'm glad these beans don't have too much flavor. Now we can spice them however we want later, Indian, or Italian and that will be yummy." (Please understand that is not a direct quote. That is not how Devin talks. I do not remember exactly what he said, and this statement is an interpretation of what he said. OK.)
And me, being ever so witty as I am, said, "Yeah, we should spice them American."
And Devin, appreciating my humor as he ever does responded, "I don't even know what that would be. Like, salt and pepper?"
And I thought, "How lame, we don't even have a national flavor."
I started thinking about the different countries I've been in, and their foods and flavors. I've eaten typical meals in Brasil, Mexico, I think I had lunch in Argentina once, but maybe it was Uruguay, Germany, Belgium, and France. Although, since all we ate the entire time we were in France was bread I don't suppose that country counts. (Luckily, we were not in France long enough for this to have an adverse affect on our health. It was just really, really tasty.)
The point is, I love lasagna, fettucine, fajitas, tandoori chicken, keema alu, shabu shabu, pannenkoeken, boerenkool, and all sorts of foods from other countries, but I like them best cooked in my own kitchen, here in my own home, on the soil that feels like a very part of me. (Or in my mother's kitchen, of course.)
I still remember my dad asking me as we prepared to leave Brasil after living there for four years if I would miss anything. I didn't think I would then (aside from the people I loved so much), so eager was I to get home. Looking back now after all these years, I do miss some things, but I am still happier eating my food here. Even when it is feijoada. This may not make sense, but it's true. The other main thing I remember about coming back to the States after those four years? I'm pretty sure my sister and I knelt down and kissed the ground. It felt that good to be home.
Note: I do also love foods like au gratin potatoes, meatloaf, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, hamburgers, root beer, salads with Ranch dressing, and I think it goes without saying, bacon. I suppose those are "American" foods?