I have known since I was little that I am a “mutt” – meaning, there’s a little bit of just about everything that makes up my heritage – English, German, Dutch, Scott, Native American, and a tad bit of this, and a pinch of that. I have also know that I have a pretty indiscriminate palate when it comes to trying new foods – I enjoy a bland English banger just as much as a fiery Louisiana hot link or Mexican chorizo.
Growing up our next door neighbors were Japanese – she was born in the US, he was born in Japan. We played over there with their kids just as much as they played at our house. When we were there and wanted a treat we were often given a sweet, salty, stringy snack she called candy but what was really dried cuttle fish or octopus (depending on what she’d used for meals that week). I loved tearing up and munching a sheet of seaweed or scooping the pickled rice (sushi) kept in an old pottery crock in the garage into a bowl, dousing it with soy sauce and eating it with chopsticks.
My uncle traveled the world and often brought back candies from his trips. My favorite was a toffee candy that came in a bright purple foil with cellophane twisted around it that was almost crumbly when you put it in your mouth because it was so full of toasted coconut – I wish I could remember what country it came from so I could look for it, but I can’t. We got the Japanese rice candy wrapped in edible paper – it was fresh and so soft when he brought it home and had the toy in the 2’nd box that came with it; he brought chocolates from Spain, dried fruit and nut candies from the Middle East, and candies that looked like mushrooms from France but were actually made of meringue and filled with chocolate truffle.
My favorite international foods are Japanese and Greek, but I love German, Mexican, and Cuban too. I have raised my girls to at least try something once before they turn up their noses at it. Thing 1 is my risk taker, finding that she likes something different more often than not. Thing 2 has more English tastes (their father’s heritage is almost purely English) and shies away from too much strong spice or heat. I’m afraid all 3 of us suffer from a strong need for chocolate, but even here Thing 2 is less adventurous, preferring milk over the stronger, deeper, dark chocolate that Thing 1 and I crave.
Harley Guy says he’s just a plain, old “Americaner” and I think like most guys his likes are anything grilled, anything with meat, and nothing with the dreaded coconut, parm cheese, ricotta cheese, or cream cheese. Luckily he does like his veggies and an occasional piece of fruit (nothing really exotic – bananas, apples, and oranges mostly). I’ve found that if I want him to try something different, its best to not name it or tell him it’s origins. This way I’ve gotten away with a French cassoulet, a Japanese teriyaki and tempura, English bangers and mash, and Irish colcannon. By accident he bought me a Norwegian lefse pan at a garage sale thinking it was an electric grill and when I used the other night for homemade lefse he enjoyed them slathered with butter.
We have a friend that was born and raised in Hawaii but moved to the mainland because it was too expensive to live there. This is a dish she brought to a Christmas pot luck we attended last year. It was very good, but for my family I knew I’d need to make just a few adjustments – less pork, more cabbage, more garlic and so on. NOTE: It is best to start this recipe the night before.
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig/Pork with Cabbage
3 pound pork butt/shoulder roast
1/2 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt (I used red)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup Hawaiian soy sauce (Aloha recommended)
1 Tablespoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon olive oil
dash powdered ginger or small amount fresh grated
5 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup water
1 large head cabbage, chopped
Season pork with Hawaiian salt and black pepper. Place in slow cooker (do not add any liquid), cover, cook on low for 8 hours. Remove pork and dispose of melted fat in pot. Shred pork and put back into pot with soy sauce, liquid smoke, oil, ginger, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Add shredded cabbage and continue to cook for an additional 4 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove pork and cabbage from pot – discard liquids.