Monday, June 23, 2008

Pizza, Spaghetti, Tacos, Lasagna - What really is American food?

Ken and Barbara amongst the flowers at Kew Gardens

Japanese Pagoda at Kew Gardens

Ken and Barbara by the Roman Arch at Kew Gardens
Another week has come and gone and boy has it been a busy one. This was Stake Temple Week, so we were able to attend the London Temple and start some of the temple work for my family. The rest of the cards I sent to my sister, Carol, who is serving a six month mission at the Palmyra Temple in New York. We also went to the Hyde Park Family History Center this week and found a load of new family names so now as soon as I get organized we will have lots more work to do. We helped with a Stake Single Adult Hawaiian Day, prepared lessons and a new home teaching list for the ward, fed a part member family, helped ward members with geneology work on the computer, attended Zone Meetings, fed the missionaries, and held a movie and popcorn night for members of the ward, this week.
My kids keep asking me about English cooking and what we eat here. It is hard to say what English cooking really is. Fish and chips, roast lamb with mint sauce, shepherd's pie, orange marmalade, and clotted cream on desserts are favorites here in England. Most of the people who live around us are African so we are exposed mostly to their cooking. They are wonderful cooks and they love meat, meat, meat!!! When you have dinner with them, they serve about three different kinds of meats and then a vegetable or salad with that. When they have a barbeque, the grills are just loaded down with meats of every kind possible. At the Young Single Adult Conference this week, they served chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, barbequed ribs, shiskabobs with beef on them, and then a potato salad and a green salad. Kenneth thinks that he has died and gone to heaven.
When we have people over to eat at our house, they always want American food. I have gone over all of the favorites that I cook at home. Most all of my family's favorite foods actually come from somewhere else. That is the wonderful thing about America. We are a mix of many different ethnic groups who have mostly been assimilated successfully into the American way of living. I have thought and thought about what truly is American food. I have been able to come up with a few things that I think are truly ours. They are hamburgers, milkshakes, corn, squash, barbequed chicken, juicy steaks, baked potatoes (those are jacketed potatoes here), watermelon, ice cream, brownies, and Oreo Cookies. We are actully having an American style barbeque here at our flat in the back garden for the Relief Society on Thursday evening. We are having hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, brownies and ice cream. It should be fun, but a little crowded. My kitchen here is like a narrow hallway. If one person goes in, they have to come out before the next person goes in, that is unless you want to get really friendly in there. We do have a small garden which is probably about 15 feet by about 50 feet. We have a small barbeque, a small table, and a bench out there. At least it is a place to go that is fairly private and is outdoors. One of the ward members brought some pots over to plant flowers in so we will have it beautiful for the barbeque. Actually, it is unbelievable how easily and beautifully everything grows here. Flowers were made to be grown here. They grow everywhere and without any effort. It is quite a contrast to living in the desert where everything beautiful has to be tended and cared for carefully. I am including some photos at Kew Gardens, which is supposed to have the largest green houses in the world for plants from every country immaginable. The landscaping there is amazing and so full of flowers and beautiful things. It is actually the estate where King George (of American Revolution fame) lived with his wife and fourteen children most of the time. It is also the place where he was taken when he had his many attacks of insanity that you hear so much about.
We have had many opportunites to do interesting work here. We hope that we are making a difference. We have also seen many beautiful areas here in England that have been magnificent. We have learned a great appreciation for different cultures and different points of view. We have also learned even more than we already knew that the Gospel changes lives for the better. The world tries to change people lives from the outside in, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people's lives from the inside out. We see that every day here. Members here truly have Christ's image in their countenance and you can see it as they go about their lives in this huge city.
We love you all and think about you often. You have touched our lives in so many ways and have made our lives happy and fulfilling. Thanks so much for your friendship and love through the years. We have now been gone for 6 months. The time has flown by and we look forward to more, many interesting and growing experiences here in Jolly Old England. We hope all is well there.