When you make a meal from your new, adopted home country, it's hard not to reflect on the life you had in your home country and the one you have now. It's been just under 3 years since I moved to the US from South Africa. It feels so long and so short at all the same time. I haven't been home in about two and half years, and I constantly get the urge to book a ticket home (return, of course), to visit my friends and see my South Africa. Being an expat in another country can be tough, but just like travel, it opens your eyes to a different world, a different perspective, an appreciation for both here and there, and obviously, it opens you up to personal growth too. I'd just like to put it out there how hard it is to think of your life as 24 years spent in one country, and that's your old life, but things go on there as normal, and you have a completely new life here. And no one in your old life really knows much about it or gets it. And the new people in your life here, don't really get your 24 years of life in another country either. It's all very overwhelming, dislocating, liberating, interesting, exciting and confusing at times, but I'll save all that for another post! In the meantime...
So I really couldn't figure out what to write for this post, without going super deep, or repeating the 8 things I love about America post. So while my boyfriend and his roommate partook in the standard Saturday afternoon practice of watching their respective college football teams, I asked them this question:
What makes America great?
This was their uncensored responses:
- Pick-up Trucks
- The Internet
- Gun Control - or lack of
- Sweet Tea
- French Fries
- Four Wheelers
- The SEC
(Can you tell they are from the South yet?)
- Fast and Furious and Paul Walker (God Rest His Soul)
- The Grand Canyon
- The US Postal Service
- Muscle Cars
- Andy Griffith
- Adam Sandler
- American Football... Make sure you put down American Football
- Football - did you put it down?
- Star Wars
- Anderson Cooper
- The Internet
- Apples in general
- Apple Pie
- Mountain Dew
- Reece's Pieces
- Comic Books
- Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (judging by the laughter, I guess that wasn't serious either)
- Frat Life
- Space (technically we own the moon)
And last but not least....
- Matthew Mc @#$%ing Conaughey
Ok.... so I did have to censor some of this, and remove a couple form the list, but you get the general idea!
EAT THE WORLD USA
As seen above, your stereotypical America meals are things like pizza, french fries, hot dogs and hamburgers. I didn't want to opt for the standard, stereotypical meal that everyone could eat anywhere in the world. So instead, we opted for a meal that is very American, but possibly not as well known around the rest of the world. It is a firm favorite in the Southern States and deliciously unhealthy. Pulled Pork! And we paired it up with a good old fashioned Apple Pie. Check it out:
RECIPE FOR PULLED PORK SANDWICHES
Recipe from 100 days of Real Food
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoons salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
NOTE: I found that the paprika and cayenne pepper combination made it a really spicy dish. I ended up adding more of the mixture to the crockpot half way through, minus the paprika and cayenne pepper. If you don't like it spicy, reduce or leave out those ingredients.
- Mix together the paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme in a mixing bowl.
- Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir the mixture to form a paste.
- Put the cut up onion in the bottom of the crock pot. Place the pieces of pork on top of it and then pour the honey and spice paste all over the pork pieces.
- Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
RECIPE FOR APPLE PIE
There's a great video on the site that I found really helpful in making this - so check that out.
- 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Before you start the mixture, like the recipe suggests, make sure you have your pie all sorted. Make sure those apples are cut and ready to go.
- Place the bottom crust in your pan, and fill with apples, slightly mounded. Cover the apples with the top crust, or attempt to make some lattice work (watch the video for this one, I messed it up completely but it was fun).
- Now make the mixture you have to pour over. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in flour to make a paste. Add the white sugar, brown sugar and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature and let it simmer. Your mixture is supposed to be liquid, and not clumpy, so watch the mixture as it cooks.
- Pour the sugar - butter mixture slowly over the crust.
- Bake for 15 minutes in the over. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.
MOVIE PAIRING: FORREST GUMP (and GOOD WILL HUNTING)
I'd like to say that these two movies are representative of really fantastic American movies. Much to the movie buff Traveling Ninja's horror, I had never watched either of these movies in my entire 27 years on planet earth. I am sure to your shock and horror too! This is why Netflix was made, to help those poor individuals like me who have not seen these kinds of films.
Forrest Gump, in my opinion, is a really great American movie to watch. While the Traveling Ninja sprouted off the script, line for line, with me shushing him every five seconds, I got to see it for the first time, and really appreciate the significant events that had occurred in American history, and Forrest's accidental involvement in them. This movie was perfect to watch with a pulled pork sandwich, typical of the South, and a slice of apple pie with ice cream. I cried and I laughed. Why did it take me so long to watch this??? We also watched Good Will Hunting. I honestly didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Forrest Gump, but it was also a great movie - one that the Traveling Ninja also interrupted with repeating the dialogue every couple minutes!
THE TRAVELING NINJA VERDICT: 8.2/10
All I've got to say is: How do you like them apples?
THE TRAVELING GINGER VERDICT: 8/10
I really want to give two separate scores here! Both of these recipes were very easy to make, despite my anxiety about messing them up. The Pulled Pork sandwich definitely needed extra time in the crockpot, exactly what the recipe had called for. I thought I could have cheated it by putting it on high, but it definitely needed an extra hour and a half than to the six hours I had put it in for initially. The recipe was really spicy, so I added more mixture to it without the cayenne and the paprika. We also served it up with some Publix honey BBQ sauce (yum!). The pulled pork is really rich too, so I could not stomach more than one sandwich. It was good though, but not my favorite.
The pie has to be one of my favorite dishes we have made so far, and I would honestly give it a ten out of ten! I was so impressed with the recipe and that I had managed to pull it off. If you've read our other challenge posts, you would know that anything to do with pastry and baking is not my forte. And, another first in this challenge, I've never had apple pie before! There was so much anxiety over this! For nothing really, it was easy, and DELICIOUS! Paired with some Publix organic vanilla ice-cream and it was PERFECT! Oh my gosh! I took some for my parents too, and they enjoyed it as well. I might even make it again this weekend!
Have you traveled to the USA before or are you from here? What state do you live in or where did you visit? What is your favorite American food and classic American movie? Let us know in the comments!