Foodbuzz 24x24: Returning to America
We just returned from living abroad for one year---a family adventure that started with 4 bikes and a GPS and ended with Italian soccer and school. We cycled from Amsterdam to Paris, toured London, flew to Florence and settled in for the school year (where my sons age 13 and 14 attended an Italian school). We blogged all about it on www.familyfrolics.com.
Since we sold our home and cars and left jobs and school to climb aboard this adventure, our return state-side will be full of 'reality-bites' as we re-enter the work force, sign up for house payments and add car loans. Sure---we are broke now. But our hearts and minds gained immeasurable wealth---it was so, so worth it.
And this 24x24 meal (Foodbuzz event) is a celebration of our return stateside---full of 'food-bites' we missed while touring and living abroad. What would you miss if you were out of the country for a year? My sons wanted burgers and root beer, and since I was busy focusing on Italian food, I wanted to revisit a fave grilled chicken dish of mine---with ginger sesame peanut sauce. And doesn't June/July just beg for watermelon and grilled corn? Rhubarb and strawberries and fresh green salad? All of those yummies made our list of must-haves for our return to America. Add all that summer-y food, some American beer and much-missed family: and we had ourselves a return-to-America celebration.
I must say, in all the countries where we ordered burgers, not once did they hold a candle to the hamburgers from bistros and backyard BBQ's so common in the states. We think America ROCKS when it comes it comes to [beef] steak and burgers. This 24x24 menu rests on the laurels of the all-American burger. And Root Beer. You cannot find root beer in other countries---soda options are limited and root beer is not among them. My boys craved a classic root beer float!
A menu to come home to:
American beer: Pyramid and Deschutes Brewery (CA and OR) Root Beer (my boys love root beer---impossible to find abroad!)
Hamburgers (w/balsamic caramelized onions, blue cheese and bacon) WatermelonChicken with Peanut Sauce (marinated, grilled) Grilled Corn (peeled, olive oil, S&P and Old Bay) Roasted Potatoes (rosemary, S&P, olive oil) Green Salad (spinach, dried cranberries, blue cheese)
Red Velvet CupcakesStrawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Notes from dinner: I always wanted to try red velvet cupcakes [with cream cheese frosting]; there are a ton of recipes online and I imagine the one we tried was typical. What I really love is that the cupcake color can be tailored to the holiday or event. The cobbler recipe I chose wasn't my favorite---next time I will try a new recipe. The 'winning' recipe of the meal was by far the chicken with peanut sauce. People went back for seconds (self included!). Besides the flavor profile and thyme-citrus marinated chicken, I LOVE that this recipe can be made it in advance: the morning of our party I marinated the chicken and made the peanut sauce.
We have had our bites of burger and sips of soda, munched on morsels of red cupcakes, hailed the backyard BBQ and chatted---in person---with family. We are officially home. Our expat status is slipping away, despite my wallet-full of Italian codes and cards and official numbers. There is still so much to share, so much to appreciate from Italy, so much to re-soak up from the states... food to be cooked and consumed, our experiences to digest.
And this won't be the last themed menu from me; look for Italian wine tastings and pizzas, ragu from scratch and tributes to cured meat. Italy was my chance to try balsamic-from-Modena and Parmesan cheese---right in the factory. Mixed in will be my new appreciation for America's farmer's markets, seasonal eating, and forays into various cooking traditions (shall I explore Spain next? Or India? Curries or that new cookbook I just received on New Orleans...). Thanks for taking this ride with me, for reading about my food-ventures from the seat of my bicycle, my flat in Florence and now my re-entry to the states. Life is just FULL of bites and am all about enjoying each and every one.