Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There’s no place like home, or is there?

Here in Botswana I have a number of friends. A few expats, but mostly Batswana friends. When the other expats and I get together we occasionally exchange stories about things we just don’t understand here. A recent conversation with another American professor centered around meetings. Why do the meetings always start an hour late? Why is there so much formality involved in meetings? If you’ve already stated your opinion, why waste time in the meeting by reiterating your view, again, and again, and AGAIN!? Often these expat venting sessions end with a shrug of the shoulders, because we know we can’t change an entire culture, and a common exclamation, “There’s no place like home” or “Makes me appreciate home.”

This evening I was on my regularly scheduled, daily Skype chat with my BFF. As we were talking I was skinning a sweet potato. Lo and behold I had the surprise of my life. The sweet potato wasn’t orange inside, it was white.

This was my reaction:
I told him about it and he was equally stunned. Then he started telling me about cotton candy grapes. Apparently regular grapes are selling for $2.99 a pound in the U.S., while these new cotton candy grapes are $7.99/lb. The idea of fruit that tastes like candy is criminal to me. After our Skype session I decided to check out the cotton candy grapes for myself. According to the sources I found online, it took eight years to develop this “hybrid” fruit which has 12% more sugar than normal grapes.

My dinner this evening consisted of my white sweet potato, asparagus and a burger made from 100% Batswana beef. It was delicious. I’ve made this exact meal before, many times, in the U.S. But tonight as I sat there eating it I began to think about how much better it tasted then all the times I’ve made it back home. I’m guessing it’s because the cows here roam around all day and eat grass, instead of eating corn while standing still. And the sweet potato and asparagus likely did not have nearly as many pesticides and chemicals as American sources do.

In many instances I would agree that “There is no place like home.” But if there is one thing I like better here it is definitely the food.

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