Posted by: jmarleneh | October 22, 2008

Sweet Peanutbuttery Nostalgia

Last night after helping out at the English school Rebecca and I recieved an unexpected surprise. Our friend Artesh knocked on the door with a small bag in his hand. Artesh studies foreign languages (English and Japanese) and History at the university here and has become a good friend of ours. We help him with his English homework occasionally and practice conversation and he has been really helpful to us as well.  He is from the small republic of Tuva in Central Asia, although it’s technically a part of Russia and Russian is taught in schools.  I really enjoy hearing his perspective on politics in Russia and in Tuva.

He asked if we have milk, sugar and tea and explained that he brought us some special Tuvan food that he doesn’t even have a Russian translation for! I assumed it was a special type of tea and started washing all the dirty dishes he needed. We had just started to eat our dinner. Feeling somewhat awkward I asked him if he had already eaten. He replied that he hadn’t yet but wasn’t hungry so “don’t worry.” That’s when I remembered that the Saturday before we had splurged on a small overpriced jar of German peanut butter. A couple days before that I had bought jelly too! It was his FIRST time trying peanut butter and Rebecca suggested we take a picture of him and his first peanut butter and jelly sandwhich (he also tried peanut butter and honey since Rebecca insisted it was even better).

I was too excited to see him try the sandwhich to make myself one. I think we were a lot more excited than him (we even tried teaching him the song). There’s just so much nostalgia with PB&J! We tried to explain it to him. He told us he had heard about it from movies and now he was finally trying it (it’s been really hilarious to hear perspectives of Americans from our movies, music and videogames- I am no longer surprised that many Russians here only know bad words from our movies, music and yes, videogames like Grand Theft Auto). Russians are suppose to have something like this but he tried to explain it’s different. We told him of course that he didn’t have to like it. Many foriegners don’t like peanut butter! He just had to try it! He said he did and I am inclined to believe him.

Afterwards he shared his “exotic” dish with us. It can be transliterated as “Ching-gye Tah-rah.”  He wrote the word down for me and the letters looked similar to Russian.  He has told us his language is similar to Turkish. It looks so interesting! I wish I could type what he wrote down! The porridge he made reminded me of Malt-o-Meal except of course better (I am not even trying to be polite-I actually liked it). He explained that this was his favorite food growing up.  Before he left he  gave us a some extra to make later since he had recieved so much. It sits on our counter now. Perhaps I will have some more after this post . . .

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