What, might you ask, do vegetables have to do with intercultural communications?
Everything, when it’s your 8 year old child suggesting you try a new vegetable every month for the new year.
In talking about multicultural perspectives to Dillon, we like to emphasize that just because people do things differently in different cultures, it doesn’t make it right or wrong…it’s just different. At this age we’re hoping for an openness to new experiences and a willingness to try new things without prejudice.
Such it was that we brought home a ‘stalk?’ ‘leaf?’ ‘prickly pointy thing?’ of Aloe Vera…him with the excited exuberance of a child on a new adventure, and me (shhh, please don’t tell anyone) wrinkling my nose wondering “what the heck are we going to do with this?”
Per agreement, for each new vegetable or fruit we try, we will find out three things: 1.) A recipe to try it; 2.) health benefits, and 3.) what country it is eaten in.
For January, Dillon picked Aloe Vera. I kept insisting it could only be used for your skin, my only familiarity being with it as a cream for sunburn.
We were shocked in cutting it open to see how incredibly translucent and slimy it was, but our drink turned out to be quite tasty. (While I like the recipe from WokkingMum better, Wandering Chopstick has a fantastic pictorial that very closely follows our own experience of “discovering” edible Aloe Vera.)
Here’s what we learned:
1. We got a recipe from WokkingMum for Green Lime Juice (which we modified to use only Lemon Juice, which we had on hand in the house).
2. Apparently it is good for fighting bad cholesterol–that’s handy!
3. According to WanderingChopsticks blog, it is popular or common in Vietnam.
While I don’t think that eating a new fruit or vegetable each month will bring world peace and have us singing “Kumbaya” (although wouldn’t that be fantastic?) I do think that his excitement and non-judgmental approach to trying things that may be more common in other cultures is a good step. If nothing else, it is certainly preparing him for travel to other countries, and I hope instilling in him (and me) a curiosity and entree into empathizing day-to-day life and customs from different cultural perspectives.
What will you try new this year?
Top Photo credit The Fun Times Guide: Beauty and Personal Care (do not look at this link first if you plan to try eating Aloe Vera–source is showing benefits for skin problems)
Bottom Photo Credit: WokkingMum