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adding water to the soup

11 May 2012

this evening dan & i were in the kitchen cooking one of our favorite dinners, aji de gallina (a peruvian dish – recipe below), when two of his local friends showed up. we were expecting them later in the evening after dinner, so we had to make a decision: invite them to eat dinner with us, or wait until they left to eat?

we decided on the former (especially because aji de gallina is a rice meal, and people here don’t consider it a meal if there’s no rice), so dan invited them in, and i finished cooking. i wondered how my cooking for two would be sufficient for four… (fortunately i had made extra so we would have leftovers). as i was taking care of the final touches and getting the food into serving dishes, i thought about how sometimes it’s inconvenient to share with others, especially if we aren’t planning on it.

then again – we’ll never starve from sharing too much, right?

i never met my great-grandmother Elsie, but my mom has shared a lot of stories about her. grandma Elsie had fifty grandchildren (yes, 50!) and my mom says that every last one of them was welcome in grandma Elsie’s house at any time. all the cousins would play and hang out at grandma’s house, and sometimes extra friends too. grandma Elsie never got flustered and worried about how many people she had planned to feed that day. she even used old yogurt cups as drinking glasses, and old cool-whip containers as bowls – no need for anything fancy to feed those guests, as long as everyone was fed.

it’s this kind of hospitality and generosity that i hope to cultivate and model in my own home. i think the ladies of a few generations ago perfected the art of “adding a little water to the soup” and making guests feel welcome. i’m not sure exactly how to go about being hospitable in a foreign culture, but i’m sure it starts with “please, stay for dinner – there’s plenty!”

aji de gallina (a peruvian delight!)
recipe from judy coombs (dan’s aunt)

4 chicken breasts (about 2 lbs meat)
2 bouillon cubes (or equivalent)
1 onion
1 tsp cumin
2 cups milk
10-20 crackers or some bread
1-2 cups shredded cheese (this recipe calls for cheddar, i use mozzarella because it’s all i have access to here)
2-3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
salt & pepper to taste
rice (the traditional peruvian way is to cook the rice with some butter and garlic – yum!)
hard-boiled eggs

cook (boil) the chicken in a small amount of water with bouillon. shred the chicken and add the liquid from the blender to the pan. cook 10 minutes or so until thickened. add cheese and peanut butter, stir and cook til thick. serve over rice with chunks of boiled potatoes, with half a boiled egg for each serving.

¡buen provecho!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    29 June 2012 08:01

    Yes, yes, yes! I’m so glad you made the decision to invite them! Way too often we think hospitality is entertaining people at a specific time and date when we have invited them to a special meal that we have carefully planned. But over the years I have realized that true hospitality means being flexible, welcoming, and sharing at unexpected moments, even when it means giving up our pride or our privacy (which are often harder to give up than some of the special food we had thought to have just for ourselves.) I certainly cannot say I have learned this, but it is my goal! Karen Mains’ book “Open Heart, Open Home” was a challenge and inspiration to me about this many years ago. May He shine through you and Dan and the food that you offer with love!

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