Monday, June 2, 2008

Eating Dandelions

Hi Everyone,

On a recent hike with my husband and our friends, I noticed all the dandelions that were so very prolific in the countryside! They were everywhere and were such a brilliant yellow you almost needed sunglasses just to look at them! I mentioned to my husband that sometimes people pick wild dandelion leaves to make salads, tea and wine…and thought maybe it would be nice to take some leaves home with us to make salad. Well, he was horrified—literally horrified! He didn’t think I was serious! But I was…and he could only look at me as if I was crazy and tell me that here, only the very poorest people would even think of eating dandelion leaves!

Since my move to the Czech Republic, I have encountered some interesting food, and what is considered OK to eat back in the States is considered only fodder for farm animals here! Take, for instance, something as useful and good as molasses. We Americans use it for everything from sweetening to adding flavor to food we cook and bake. But here, people consider molasses to be some unwanted leftover from the sugar making process, and will only feed it to their farm animals! What a waste, though I’m very sure the farm animals are enjoying their food with molasses added to it!

Another common ingredient in the States is celery. We use this in soups, stews, sauces…in so many things, even eating it raw. But not here—again, celery is considered only something that is fed to farm animals. They do have a similar tasting root vegetable here called celer, which turns out to be the root of the celery plant. Czechs don’t commonly use the stalks of the celery plant as we do in the US. I’ve seen celery stalks in Asian stores, and in some of the bigger grocery stores, but it doesn’t appear to be very common. But the celer is very common and is mostly used in soups and stews!

Petr┼żel is also something that I had not heard of before. Upon doing a little research, I found that this is the parsnip! I guess we do have it in the States, but my family never ate it, and I truly had never seen parsnips till I moved here! To me, they look something like a mummified carrot! Parsnips/petr┼żel is used in everything from soups and salads. I mostly use them in soup.

At first, I began calling these new veggies "weird veggies"; now these new vegetables don’t seem so strange—but I am still not able to understand why Czechs won’t eat dandelion leaves…what’s the difference between those and “weird” veggies? Well, I will not push the issue with any Czechs…and I have adapted to eating these new vegetables and even have grown to like them very much! This is part of the adventure of living in the Czech Republic—learning to adapt to new ways of being and doing here (which includes new foods), while also retaining my “Americaness” in the midst of living with and amongst Czechs!

That’s all for now. You all have a great day!

God bless,

Sherry :0)

http://czechoffthebeatenpath.googlepages.com

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