Some of my students asked me about Thanksgiving, and I tried to give them a good description of the holiday’s history and it’s current incarnation, while hoping they wouldn’t equate Thanksgiving with their foreign teachers singing bits of Livin’ On A Prayer in the office and giggling. My Korean students, who know my dislike for three-quarters of the food in Yantai, love asking me about American food. I think it’s their way of tormenting me for all the grammar-related hell I force on them.
They understood a turkey, and pies, but they laughed when I explained stuffing. You take a big loaf of bread, then cut it up small, let it go stale and dry, then make it wet again with broth, and then you bake it again. No, kids, it’s very different from bread. Really.
As for cranberry sauce, I explained that we take a small, tart berry, that only grows in specific environmental conditions in one part of the country, then we cook it with enough sugar to make it sweet, and ship it out the non-Cape Cod part of the US. They thought that was even funnier.
Which got me thinking… If a hard winter for a few pilgrims turned an almost inedible cranberry into a national delicacy, is it any wonder that with a huge population and decades of hunger, the Chinese can turn anything that’s not actually poisonous into dinner?