Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Culture clash

I imagine I will always be learning about the Honduran culture.  Culture, by definition, is "how we do things around here," and is deeply embedded.  Although you can describe some aspects of a culture, it is impossible to tick off every nuance.  My advances in acculturation usually involve some degree of hilarity.  This past Sunday was no exception.  This time the culture lesson was about food, or "Fud."

It actually started earlier this year when Jim Harrell, part of Laurie Harrell's medical brigade, had a dream of cooking out for the SBV kids.  In the weeks leading up to their trip we emailed and brainstormed about how this could happen.  Buying a gas grill was out of the question... Using the stove in the kitchen did not make the grade for Jim's cookout vision.  Finally, Suzy suggested that we have a permanent grill built!  Thanks to Jim's generosity, that is exactly what we did.

Sadly, on the appointed cook out day, we had gale force winds... The beautiful grill sat cold and unused while we huddled in the kitchen cooking the hot dogs on the stove...and the children ate in their cabins.

When I suggested to the St. Paul's team that we try again with a cookout, they jumped at the chance.  Sunday was a beautiful day, sunny and warm with a slight breeze.  Right after church we rushed down to start the grill with "carbon"  (pronounced carBON,) combustible (gasoline,) pine straw and sticks. Menguin, a boy scout, took charge of the fire with help from St. Paul's

Soon the grill was ready for the hot dogs.  

Suddenly, the hot dogs began to explode! 

The North American men, all cookout veterans, observed that the Honduran hot dogs sure were strange.  Suzy walked up about that time and casually asked if we had peeled them first.   QUE?  
"What do you mean, peel them?" we asked incredulously.  Suzy, barely containing laughter, explained, "The hot dogs are covered in plastic!"  "Get the hot dogs off the grill!" I shouted.
While the men were frantically removing the hot dogs, Suzy and I started peeling the hot, melted plastic off the dogs!

 As I am juggling the scalding hot dogs I asked Menguin and Milton the question burning in our heads.  "Why didn't you tell us to peel the hot dogs???"  Their answer?  "We just thought North Americans cooked hot dogs that way.  We thought it was very weird."

Hence the culture clash.  We had been standing there thinking each other's culture was strange without verbalizing our confusion and doubt!  This culture clash ended in raucous laughter and very happy cook out beneficiaries!

Thanks Jim Harrell for your vision and generosity!