Monday, April 27, 2009

Globe Spinner Dinner

When I was a young lad, my mother read in some family magazine about "Globe Spinner Dinners," a great activity for the entire family. The idea was that you set a special night to be a "Spinner Dinner" night, you spun the globe and randomly selected a country (although you may have had to do it a couple of times if you kept hitting the ocean), you prepared a dinner based upon the cuisine of the country, you dressed up in costumes from the country, and you researched information about that country. The evening became a culturally educational evening that allowed everyone a chance to take part. Those who didn't cook could read up on the country in the World Book Encyclopedia and report to everyone else on the such trivia as the country's population, topography, government, language, religions, customs, or main industries. Other people could ransack their closets to come up with costumes that mimicked to some vague level of accuracy the costumes worn in a Hollywood movie about the country. And other people could go to the liquor store and buy beer from the country in question. Everyone took part.

I have tried to introduce Globe Spinner Dinners to my family, and so far my youngest son has become the most interested in the idea. I warn you, however, if you plan to do a Spinner Dinner...PLAN AHEAD. Don't decide you are going to do a Spinner Dinner TONIGHT.

I was discussing that night's dinner with my youngest son when he suggested that we make it a Spinner Dinner evening. I thought, "Sure. China's a big country. The chances are pretty good that I can make Chinese or Indian or something else Asian tonight."

We got Botswana. Thank heavens for the Internet. I was able to save face and create a meal that very day.

Our menu consisted of pap (a traditional porridge made of corn meal) served with a vegetable potjie (a traditional stew made mostly of root vegetables). We had a morogo (spinach) dish with orange bell peppers and peanut butter (very good, but a bit of an acquired taste) and watermelon. Oh, and I introduced the kids to ginger beer.

I had wanted to find Reed's Extra Ginger Brew (the super potent, less sweet ginger beer), but all I could find was the Reed's Premium Ginger Brew (the very strong but slightly less potent, sweeter ginger beer). It was probably all for the best. Better they should start off with the lighter ale before I introduce them to the hard stuff. But I digress.

Considering the limited amount of time I had to shop for and prepare the meal, it came out very well. My oldest son researched some information on the Web about Botswana, although nobody dressed up in traditional garb.

That's OK. Next time, I will get my wife involved, and we will plan this a good week in advance. That way, not only will I have plenty of time to prepare a traditional Swaziland feast, but she will be able to sew me a costume as well.

Just like the one in the movies.


  1. Zev, What a fabulous idea!! Wish I had thought of that when my kids were younger. Although we sampled different types of cuisine, we never officially studied up on, or dressed in traditional costumes of that country. One thing we did do to encourage experimentation, was to plant a garden with the usual suspects (beans, peas, carrots, etc) but also each one had what we termed "advanced vegetables" (like kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, zucchini, etc) which they planted and tended. That way they had ownership in them, and actually ate and sometimes enjoyed them. Props to your mom for her creative approach to dinner!!

  2. Well, I am indeed honored that you remembered Globe Spinner Dinners. Actually, I just read something in a magazine that started me thinking. I myself invented all the glorious additions to this. I especially remember pearl diver and samurai costumes for the Japanese dinner. I'm impressed that you could come up with something for Botswana. Mom