We decided to have a few people over for dinner the other day. I had fun thinking about the menu, but creating said menu is more challenging here than it would be back home. There are certain ingredients we never see anywhere, and some that we see only occasionally. Thus, while I had an idea of what I might make, the final menu decision had to wait until the day before when we went to the supermarket.
The week before, we finally broke down and bought a food processor. I didn't necessarily think it was a top of the line model, but thought that it might open up some culinary possibilities for however long we live here. Then, when we went to the supermarket, I found some very pretty fresh basil. It became clear that pesto had to be part of the meal--I love it, and back home, I used to make it nearly ever week during the summer.
Our food processor turned out to be a multi-part apparatus. It has a handle with a cord that could attach to (a) a whisk attachment, (b) a hand-held blender attachment, or ( c) a traditional food processor attachment. I first tried the whisk attachment to cream some butter and sugar for a cake. It moved so fast that it almost sent the bowl flying. I decided to cream the butter and sugar with a spoon, but thought that maybe the whisk attachment would be useful in other contexts, like beating egg whites.
Then, once the cake was in the oven, it was time to tackle the pesto. I put my basil, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, and some salt in the food processor. Then, I attached the handle attachment, and pressed the on button. It created a nearly deafening noise that I couldn't escape because the machine wouldn't run without my physically holding the button down. After a minute or so of destroying my hearing, I checked my pesto's progress. And….practically nothing had happened! The basil leaves looked somewhat squashed and bruised, but not at all pesto-like. This was to say nothing of the garlic and walnuts, which were practically unscathed.
I thought maybe I had overloaded the food processor, so I divided my ingredients into two batches and tried processing half of them at a time. Nothing. I put all of them into a bowl, and tried using the hand-held blender attachment to process them. Nothing, and it also turned out that the hand-held blender attachment refused to attach securely to the handle.
Cursing a blue streak, I finally resorted to using kitchen shears to cut up the basil into small pieces, and broke the walnuts into somewhat smaller pieces. I related our tale of woe to our guests when I warned them about our very rustic pesto. One of them asked, "Oh, did your food processor explode?" It turned out that their first food processor here did, shooting a flame into the air in the process. So, maybe I should count myself as lucky that my food processor did nothing more than (severely) irritate me.
I was thinking about this experience, though, and in a way, I think it's emblematic of our larger experience here. The word "adventure" comes up a lot in relation to what Scott and I are doing here. I had always thought of adventure as having a positive connotation, and to be fair, we have had a lot of positive experiences that could be counted as adventure. However, for every time something really cool and photo-worthy happens, there are many more instances of us just trying to live our lives and do our jobs in a country where we don't speak the language and often fail to anticipate the obstacles that magically appear in our paths. If we manage to avoid disaster, we'll probably walk away from this experience with a sense of resourcefulness and a renewed appreciation for the relative ease of our lives back home. In the meantime, though, there will be days when we long for the mundane.