Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Globe Spinner Dinner Rides Again

A couple of years ago, I wrote about “Globe Spinner Dinners,” a fun, family activity in which one spins a globe, selects a country at random, and plans a dinner around the cuisine and culture of said country. To do this right (i.e., the way my mother used to do it), one does not only plan the meal around the local cuisine, but one gets the entire family involved in dressing up in native garb, researching demographic and historical information, and generally enlightening each other on trivia about the native culture and traditions.

I had been planning to do more Spinner Dinners over the years to edify my children culinarily and culturally. And then it was now. Hmph. Strange how the best laid plans always fall apart under their own inertia. Nonetheless, my youngest son suggested that we give it another go, and I agreed, partly because I love the challenge, but mostly because it tends to force my family out of their comfort zone. The last time we spun, I ended up with Botswana. What would we get this time? Spain? Rwanda? Swaziland? Monaco?

Despite my older son’s suggestion that we use Google Earth to randomly select a country, I insisted on using a real live, old-fashioned globe. Give me tactile sensation over virtual experience any day. I want to know that my stochastic selection is real, not a computer-generated artifact. I want to feel that globe a-spinning.

Naturally, the first three times we spun, we landed on water. “I guess we’ll do sushi,” my younger son quipped. Yeah, it was funny the first time; not so much the third. But eventually he hit a country. American Samoa. Yes, you heard me, Samoa, a tiny unincorporated U.S. territory hidden in the South Pacific. Do you know how hard it is to hit Samoa? My son, who had been hoping for Italy, opted for spinning again. No, I admonished him; the purpose of a Spinner Dinner is to try out new cuisines from exotic lands. You can have pizza any old time.

The Internet is invaluable for preparing a Spinner Dinner menu. I don’t know how my mother did it. Maybe she was lucky enough to hit European and Asian countries every time. Or maybe she used a weighted globe that just “happened” to land on Italy again and again. But, oh no, not me. I had Samoa to contend with. And of course, I had to make it vegetarian. This is not an easy feat in Samoa, where the national bird appears to be corned beef. Samoan cooking does not use much spice, but it does use a lot of coconut and cream…which explains why Samoans are not a particularly diminutive people.

After some research and recipe hopping, I came up with following menu below:
  • Vegan Palusami (spinach and vegan corned beef cooked in coconut milk)
  • Sapa Sui (basically chop suey) with marinated chunk TVP
  • Panipopo (sweet coconut buns
  • Panikeke (deep fried banana pancake balls)

  • In my opinion, the palusami was delicious, but I seemed to be in a minority of one. So, naturally, UI will be the only person taking the palusami leftovers in my lunch. The sapa sui went over better with my family because it more closely resembled my typical stir fry. The panipopo and the panikeke (which I made for dessert) were big hits. Let’s hear it for simple carbs.

    All in all, the dinner was successful. I pulled out my laptop while we ate and educated everyone about Samoa while they pushed the spinach around on their plate and devoured the coconut buns. And now I’m feeling energized and empowered to try this again very soon. Of course, while that globe is spinning, I’ll be thinking, “Please not Europe. Please not India. Please not China.”

    I mean, come on…they can have pizza and curry any old time.

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