Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cooking without spice….
Produced & Edited by A H

I travel a lot, but this is for the first time I am visiting the United States. Usually, when I visit any country for few weeks I carry with me a small box of special spices. ‘My specie box’ travels with me so that if I have to prepare any food for special occasion I can use them. Species work like magic; its powerful aroma increase the test of the food more than anything! However, during my last travels and staying longer period outside of my home country, especially in Australia and the United Kingdom, I found super shops selling different types of fresh species. I started to feel I don’t need to carry my special specie box anymore. What you need is just to look for them in right place.

I also have a habit to collect spices from different places. Especially, when I go to restaurants I try to find opportunity how I can ask the chief what has made a dish so special. Then I buy that specific spice and cook my special dish following my own way. And I like experimenting foods. Most of the time it turns out to be tasty. But sometimes my experiments fail. Sometimes not carrying my own and ‘special’ spice box is a wrong decision. My stay in the United States reminds me of that mistake. You won’t believe, in my first week in the United States I cooked without any spice. What I bought from Walmart was not at all tasteful specie I ever tested in my whole life. Thanks to our Ohio colleague Professor Jatin Srivastava who helped me to end my ‘life without specie’ at last. Frankly speaking, I am not that type of person who can’t live without her traditional dishes (despite my fascination with special spice). However, for my floor mate who loves only noodles and rice, and because of her, my chance to try cooking American cuisine has become very slim. Well...Sticking with Asian Cuisine reminds me “My spices box” as it echo’s "Veritas ex gustu".

                                                        Photo: Our first spice less food

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Food, glorious food!"

Produced & Edited by Signe Ivask
University of Tartu, Estonia

Monday, August 1, 2016

What the Amish can teach us

Produced and edited by Patrick Matbob

As our Honda SUV shot up the smooth paved road, the sight before us was like nothing we had ever seen before except maybe in books and western movies.

A shiny black buggy drawn by a horse plodded along with some children in the back and their parents up front. As we slowed down to pass them, the children smile and wave at us, equally curious to see our strange faces and dresses from 19 different countries around the world.
We represented India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, China, Mongolia, Africa, Russia, Estonia, South America and Oceania. We were scholars from universities around the world and were participating in the Study of the United States (SUSI) program at Ohio University.
This was our first encounter with members of the Amish community whom we were going to learn about in the next couple of days as we stayed at Sugarcreek.
An Amish farm
To see the Amish riding around on horse-drawn buggies and bicycles on well paved roads in one of the most advanced countries in the world sparked our curiosity. Why would a group of people shun the American dream to persist in the old ways of living? Do they not want to embrace the technological advancements that had eased the modern ways of living? To put it bluntly – what is their problem with the world today?
We were privileged next day to meet up with Lester Beachy, a middle-aged Amish man wearing a brown beard minus a moustache, which is the typical demeanor of an Amish man of his age. Lester and Mary Beachy, a warm motherly figure, gave us a short but detailed introduction to the Amish way of life.
The Amish way of life can be described as life on the slow lane, and is based on their Christian beliefs.
“We believe the bible has all the answers in life,” says Lester.
He says they seem slow in embracing changes because their decisions are based on three things – faith, family and land. What they accept or reject is based on whether it will help to nourish their faith, benefit their family and land. Anything else is rejected.
However, both were quick to point out that it does not mean they reject all modern technology and ways of doing things.
Education for the young Amish children usually ends at Grade 8 then the girls work with their mothers, and boys with their fathers in the fields to learn their trade. The training is basically to teach values to their children, which the Amish believe is the most important thing that a person should have. For instance, their option to use buggies and horses for transportation does not mean they reject modern transportation, and some Amish people use modern technology and equipment on their farms because it is profitable.
“I see people walking around with cell phones all the time,” says Mary. “To me it is such a burden”.
“You don’t miss what you don’t have”.
An Amish buggy
But she admits that today they have gas to warm their homes and run the fridge and iceboxes unlike before. And they have milking machines to help them milk cows because, she says that unlike before, today you have to milk 42 cows to make a decent living.
“We believe that the bible is God’s words to men. We believe that’s how God reached everyone” says Lester.
Their hope of heaven does not depend on works, but on faith.
“That’s why we choose to live the way we do".
He says the Amish vote and decide what they will have and what they will not have. For instance, he said when they could not milk enough cows by hand to make a profit, they decided to buy and use milking machines.
He says on gender roles, men and women perform different roles which have the same value in God’s eyes.
Listening to Lester and Mary, it dawned on me that what the Amish experienced was not unique. What was unique was their culture of deciding what to accept and reject. All traditional cultures in my country Papua New Guinea experience what the Amish are going through. The introduction of modern technology, equipment, values and ways of doing things are challenging and at times conflicting with the traditional cultures.
The Amish are strong and closed knit communities, and they decide through votes whether to accept or reject what the world offers if they do not see the need. That is the difference.
I am convinced that the Amish have something to teach the people of PNG, and rest of the world, who are bombarded by what the modern world offers. Like them, we should be disciplined in deciding what is good for us, and to reject what is unnecessary.