Nothing brings people together like food. Whenever I (we) traveled to foreign countries, it was the dinner invitations, the restaurant visits, the shared meals, that brought us together in friendship. Suddenly social differences no longer existed, and the language barrier actually added to the fun of the conversation.
Two great dinners stand out in my mind, as I’m walking down memory lane.
One in Tuscany, where we rented a guesthouse in a winery, and the owners made a big dinner for all their guests. We were gathered around a long table, and the air was filled with the scents of herbs, fermenting grapes, and cooked food. It was like one of those movie scenes that makes you ache to go on vacation to just that place, to enjoy the company of complete strangers, eat their food, and drink their wine, and join in on their conversation… using your hands and feet if you needed to.
The other was a dinner in Sri Lanka. We’d followed an invitation by a local family we had become good friends with. Their house had a simple concrete floor, the furniture didn’t match, there were no glass windows. These people were poor by anybody’s standards, and they served a big meal of chicken curry. I remember watching them form balls out of rice and chicken with their bare hands and I tried to copy it, but was unsuccessful. But they got a kick out of watching ME! 😉 And, after my initial culture shock, I couldn’t feeling happy and grateful to be there, and share this amazing meal with them.
On Saturday we had friends over for dinner. Every now and then I’ll make dinner from a recipe that has been in my family for many years. It’s hit and miss with this recipe. We have had friends raving over this meal, and going for seconds and thirds. Our friends Saturday were… well… not quite as excited about it. This was also partly due to the fact, that I used a pork shoulder for the roast, and it wasn’t quite as tender as I would have liked it to be. Still, I enjoyed every last bite of it, because this recipe reminds me of home. It reminds me of Sundays, when we went to my grandma and grandpa’s house, and the whole house smelled of pork roast and red cabbage. Those days were carefree and full of joy. I miss my grandparents. 😦
Now for the recipe!!
1 pork roast (any cut is really fine… maybe not the shoulder)
salt and pepper
750ml hot water
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
4 strips bacon (cut into half inch strips)
1 onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (diced)
sliced mushrooms (you choose how much you want in there)
sliced green bell pepper
Rub the roast with salt, pepper, paprika, curry, and nutmeg until well covered.
In a large pot cook the bacon until slightly crispy. Remove the bacon, but leave the grease and add more if needed. On high heat brown the roast on all sides, then remove. Now pour the hot water into the pot. Chances are you’ll have some of the spices stuck to the bottom of your pot. Those will come right off, as soon as you pour in the water and let it boil for a minute. Season the water with salt, pepper, nutmeg, paprika, curry, and savory. Then add the roast back in, and then add all the other veggies. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook for about an hour before you start checking the meat for its doneness. 😉 You’ll likely need to add a bunch more salt to the sauce. Just season until you like the taste.
1 head of red cabbage
1 medium sized apple
about 5 tbsp red wine vinegar
250ml red wine
some salt to taste
2 tbsp honey
a couple of pinches of cloves
1 onion (diced)
In a pot heat the bacon grease, then saute onions for a couple of minutes. Add your sliced cabbage and cook for a few minutes from all sides, then add vinegar, red wine, salt, honey and cloves. Cook this mixture in a covered pot on low heat for about 30 minutes. Peel and grate the apple and add it into the mixture, then cook until done. With red cabbage, you’ll just have to decide how sour or sweet or salty you want it to taste. It’s entirely up to you.
As a second side dish I served mashed potatoes for those who like to eat potatoes. The rest of us enjoyed some turnips.
This is a very hearty meal, and again, always a big treat in our family. If you do choose to cook it, I would really love to hear from you. I’d like to know how you liked it. 🙂
Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about my apple pie and the apple bars I baked.