Around here at our house, I am supremely fortunate to have Beckmann do 80% (ok, more like 90%) of the cooking.
He likes it. He's better at it than I am, and I am the most appreciative audience there can be. So far it works for us. I'm better at baking than he, and I can do breakfasts well (my teff banana pancakes are wonderful!).
For Christmas, we received the cookbook The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Aquavit in NYC (among other distinctions). I stuck a jar of berbere in Beckmann's stocking, so we were good to go. He tried the recipe for Berbere-Crusted Rack of Lamb, (with a few tweaks here and there because of our lack of an oven -- we use a grill for meats), and it was great. I hadn't eaten in an Ethiopian restaurant in a while, so the taste was a blast from the past, and it actually seemed to bring out the earthy taste of the lamb even more. Which some people who aren't crazy about lamb might not appreciate. But it was quite delicious. Beckmann cut back on the berbere, because we weren't sure how spicy we could take it, and I think he was pretty successful at gaging our collective tastebud tolerance.
It's a beautiful book, btw, visually and because of the wonderful anecdotes Samuelsson includes alongside the recipes. For those of you who aren't aware, Samuelsson was adopted with his sister from Ethiopia by Swedish parents in 1970. In the foreward he discusses both his adoptive and his first families, and how each have helped influence who he is. He uses the Zulu/Xhosa word ubuntu as an underlying theme for the book -- "I am what I am because of who we all are," which he describes as an "idea that there is a universal bond of sharing that connects all people, and calls for humanity toward others." I like that he encourages us to incorporate ubuntu into our lives by taking the time to make our meals be about enjoying the process of cooking and the company of our fellow diners. It's actually a bit zen-like, being mindful about each step in the process of eating -- shopping for food, preparing, sharing.
His older sister was able to find his father and half-brothers and sisters in the town in Ethiopia in which they were born. He describes this as well, and uses his Ethiopian name Kassahun in the dedication to his sister.
It's a wonderful book for someone interested in exploring an underexplored cuisine, or for those of you adopting from Africa who would like a fresh look at the people living there and their attitudes about food and mealtimes from the point of view of an accomplished chef who also happens to be an adult adoptee.
We will most certainly try some more recipes, and I'll let you know how they go.
Updated to add: I should tell you that I first read about this book here. She reviews it, too.
I realize that my first post was a bit of a cop-out. Using somebody else's thoughts -- but he so deftly described so much about newness and birth and beginnings.
I couldn't help myself.
This blog will be a way for me to chronicle my and hub's (from now on to be called Beckmann) process of adopting from Ethiopia. I've been a (hopefully) benevolent lurker for over a year, stalking the blogs of some incredibly talented writers/people. I've learned more about adoption from blogs than anywhere else -- from nuts and bolts stuff about the paperchase and travel to the the points of view of everyone in the triad -- adoptive parents, adoptees and first families. Not to mention all of the poop and snot vignettes of those very small people we all love so much.
Hope I can contribute as much as I've gained in the last year or so.
A little background. I'm virtually at the end of the biological clock deadline we've all heard so much about. Didn't really get a chance to try our hands at procreation, since I came down with a mysterious illness right in the midst of what would have been a good time to start. It was pretty devastating at the time, and kept me from doing much else than rebuilding my strength and watching lots of Little House on the Prairie reruns (ahh cable...).
Successfully in remission now for a good bit of time, I approached Beckmann about adding to our family. Adoption was a topic of discussion between us since we had been a couple, so it naturally resurfaced. We made one false start with an agency I (think?) has been called the slowest agency on the planet. First with the intention of pursuing adoption in China, then domestic, then -- "sorry you're not a good fit." Frustrated and befuddled, and "not feeling very how," as Eeyore would say, we were led by a very kind sw to another agency with much more flexibility and options for our mixed-up and broken selves. Ok, so I was the broken one. But they liked us, and we, them, so away we went.
We're adopting from Ethiopia, and have organically evolved from adopting an infant of either gender to a sibling group of 2 under the age of 4. that is an entirely different story I'll save for another day.
We got our paperwork in on September 12 (day after Ethiopian New Year and Beckmann's b-day), and so have been waiting a little over three months. So far not a big deal, in fact we have LOTS to do anyway before our lives change FOREVER. But you know, our lives change forever every day. This change will just be more significant.