I will never forget the most valuable commodity we packed in our suitcases when Dan and I went on a 6 week trip to India for Dan’s work in 2008. It wasn’t long skirts, toiletries, or even our camera… It was peanut butter.
Dan and I ate– or at least took a few bites– of every food that was offered to us while we were in India. But even the breakfast food was so spicy that tears would stream down our faces. Our Indian friends and meal-mates at the research center kindly reached for the water pitcher and refilled our glasses. To Indians, spicy food is not only delicious—it also tells a story. Each region of India is known for its particular flavors, and people we met from different areas of India loved to share their food. We had a wonderful time getting to know students, professors, and families in the farming villages. And after each day out in the fields, we returned to our dorm room at the research center, and I savored my peanut-butter-banana-sandwich.
When children who are adopted internationally come home to their new country, there is so much transition. Adapting to new language, sights, sounds, smells, expectations, social norms, and even time zones can be exhausting. One of many things we have read about in our adoption training that can help children cope with such a huge adjustment is “comfort food.” What do you think of when you hear “comfort food?” What comes to mind is probably something familiar and warm, that will remind you of a time when you felt safe and loved and cared for. We want our child to have those cozy feelings when he/she comes home. If food is one way we can connect with our child, and help him/her find comfort and familiarity in the midst of everything new, then we commit to learning all we can about the food of our child’s birth country.
As we researched the typical diet of people in East Africa, we were reminded of something we learned when we traveled to India—most societies in the world live on just a few staple foods in their diet. The main staple (often a grain or root vegetable) of a society may be part of one meal a day, or part of every meal, or the sole food in the only meal someone eats in a day.
We were inspired by the thought of cooking food our child will find comforting. So last fall when Dan and I were brainstorming ways to reduce our grocery budget, we thought “Why not start cooking differently now?” Since October 2013, our family has been eating rice for dinner once a week. During that time, our idea grew… Each time we ate rice, we thought about the people in the world who live on rice. At mealtimes, we began talking with our kids about people who live and eat differently, and how grateful we are for the food we have. This weekly meal is growing into a time of prayer and learning, a time of gratitude, and now a time of sharing.
We would like to invite you to come alongside us in our RICE “fast” – to learn more visit our RICE page here.