Cooking, Travel

A Note on Gratitude: Traveling (to Nicaragua) and Coming Home

Nicaragua

Nicaragua

I was fortunate to travel in Nicaragua recently for work.  While there, I observed, learned and worked to gain a better understanding of a culture about which I previously knew nothing.  Nicaragua is working to develop and make its way out of being the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  There was a juxtaposition of extreme poverty and breathtaking beauty throughout the country.

The hospitality provided to us during the trip was remarkable.  The first photo below is a ‘traditional’ Nicaraguan meal that I enjoyed.  There is yucca (the potato of Nicaragua), tortillas filled with chicken and shredded beef, chicharrones, a cabbage slaw, salsa and more.  I also had coconut water fresh out of a coconut, which was refreshing and very much needed in the 90 Degree + weather.  Of course, I tried some locally caught white fish.  There was also a delicious green ‘sauce’ made of oil, garlic, parsley and cilantro that I had with bread, beef and anything I could cover with it.  It was an experience filled with sights, sounds, tastes and people I will never forget.  

A Nicaraguan Feast

A Nicaraguan Feast

Drinking out of a Coconut

Drinking out of a Coconut

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One of the views in Nicaragua - photo courtesy of my co-worker

One of the views in Nicaragua – photo courtesy of my coworker, Mark

Upon returning home, I felt myself torn with longing for more time to explore Nicaragua and Central America and overwhelming gratitude for my home in the United States.  I walked outside with Stella Bear and saw frost on the grass, trees with bare branches lit by Christmas lights,  leaves crunching under my feet,  rhododendrons changing color and the curling white of my breath against the cold air.

After walking Stella and settling her down a bit, I needed comfort food – Italian American comfort food.  I put a pot of water on to boil, added rigatoni, defrosted homemade pasta sauce (from my heirloom garden tomatoes), and dined on pasta with red sauce and Romano cheese for my first dinner back in the States.  Right now I have a big pot of Ribollita simmering on the stove, another dinner staple.

As we approach Thanksgiving, my Nicaragua trip has given me a desire to cherish the traditions that my family has built over the years.  It has given me an appreciation for the work my ancestors pushed through to make it in a new country and to build better lives than the ones they once had many, many years ago.  It also invigorated me to continue to build my own food traditions during my first year celebrating the holidays as a married woman!

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