It started off with a simple idea from my wonderful wife. We were doing our usual meal planning for the coming week. We plan meals that meet what we have budgeted for groceries for the week. We try to get the kiddos involved as we sit around the table, my wife with pad and pen, and we write down meal ideas that we’d like to have and make (usually me make, which I’m totally cool with).
As we were bouncing off ideas for meals, my wife looked up from her pad and pen and said very dreamily “I really wish we could have some Thai food.”
I thought about it for a moment and then said “Let’s do it.”
“Yeah, why not. I’m sure we can find a simple Pad Thai recipe off Google.”
Sure enough, after a few minutes of searching, we found one. We wrote down the ingredients, bookmarked the page, and eagerly looked forward to home made Pad Thai. The kiddos not so much. They’re six and nine and not much into spicy foods, new foods, or foods that don’t involve hot dogs or mac and cheese.
My wife and I have been trying to eat healthier, cooking food from scratch, keeping to a balanced plate, etc. But this was going to be new. This was going to be an adventure.
And then my wife had another idea. What if, for the New Year, we start trying different meals from different countries. We’ll start with Thai food and then pick a country that starts with the letter of each of our first names. I wanted Djibouti until my wife reminded me it started with a “D” not a “J.”
And then we began to brain storm some more. What if we told the kiddos a little bit about the country where the food comes from. Maybe show pictures of their culture, of how they dress, about the landscape, about the regions that encompass the various countries. We found some great info off of National Geographic for Kids website.
And then, on New Year’s Day, as we served up my very first attempt at making Pad Thai, it struck me: Let’s also pray for each country.
And so we did. After we looked up Thailand, we sat down to eat and we prayed for Thailand.
Yesterday (Monday) was India. My wife and I searched for a basic Indian food (a curry coconut chicken) and an easy recipe for naan. It took about six hours to prep and cook. The house was filled with the smell of curry. Before we ate, we took time to show the kiddos the various regions of India, it’s cultural heritage, the issues it went through during British rule, and how it’s diverse, and in some ways, thriving today. I then brought up the website Operation World and we looked at different ways we could pray for India. There is a need to pray for the church in India, to pray for the poor, to pray for the Untouchables who are under oppression, to pray for orphans and orphanages in need of basic necessities (a small group at our church raises money to support an orphanage supported by Set Free Ministries International). And then we ate.
To my and my wife’s surprise, our very picky, finicky, and usually down right refuser-to-eat-new-foods wolfed down the naan and the curry coconut chicken. He said it was some of the best food I’ve made. We wondered what pod person had swapped places with him.
And then, at the end of the meal, my nine year-old son asked to pray. And he prayed for India. He prayed for the people in the country. He prayed for the church in India. He prayed a wonderful heartfelt prayer.
Honestly, it’s amazing what a little bit of food will do.
Food embodies our very cultural heritage. Even in the States, each region has it’s favorite dish. You have fistfights break out on who has the best pizza between New York and Chicago (Chicago wins of course). And speaking of Chicago, that place has the Chicago hot dog, gyros, Italian beef, food I’ve only found in the Chicago area and no where else.
Food is the gateway into a new reality, a new world, a different culture. It gives us a glimpse into who people are.
And so, as we travel around the globe using our taste buds, we plan to learn about each country, to pray for each country, and to look forward to the next meal we have.
Next week will be Argentina, and after that maybe Russia (my wife has already declared no borsch). I’m looking forward to Japan (big fan of manga and Anime, too). Then we’ll go into our heritage of German, Irish, Scottish, English, and Dutch. From there, who knows.
Most importantly, I know that we’re beginning to open the eyes of our kiddos to the world around them and teaching them to pray for people they’ll probably never meet in countries they may never go to. But the power of prayer is so amazing.
God is at work through the culinary experiments and taste buds. I can’t wait to see what happens next.