Tag Archives: culture

Festival & Fried Dough

Jen, Shelby, and I ventured out last Saturday to find a cultural festival taking place in another neighborhood of Prague. There were a number of food stalls as well as vendors with things to buy. A couple different stages had entertainment. We walked through everything once to get a feeling for the offerings. There was American BBQ, Chinese food, Mexican, and all sorts of South American representation, like Peru and Venezuela. Guys, it smelled really good. We got Mexican food, went to the Irish pub tent for Irish beer and cider, and watched a Bulgarian children’s choir as well as a good sized Salsa dance class.


We then wandered over to Wenceslas square. Why did we bother with a touristy, crowded area? Because the festival was lacking only in fried dough treats, we wanted something like that, and Wenceslas square has it.


We found fried dough, everyone. It’s actually a Slovakian treat called a trdelnik chimney, and it was doughy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and covered with cinnamon-sugar. Also? You could get the cones filled with goodness like Nutella and ice cream, which is what we did. Linda, my cousin, this picture is for you! Thanks for bringing my attention to this treat.


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Wine Time

The production of wine goes back thousands of years, and many believe it actually originated in the Middle East.  Evidence of the earliest European wine production has been uncovered at archaeological sites in Macedonia, dated to 6,500 years ago, which is an incredibly exciting fact for a member of the Macedonian ethnicity who just loves her wine.  However, wine production improved considerably during the Roman Empire, and today, much of the world associates classically great wine with Italy.

I experienced some truly wonderful Italian wines while living in Orvieto.  I had only consumed light white wines before Italy, but my roommate over there came from a family of red wine drinkers, and she got me hooked on the full-bodied Chiantis of Tuscany.  I will now drink a dry red wine at room temperature over anything else I am offered.  Thanks a lot, Amy.  You’ve ruined me.

My time in Italy inspired me with the desire to try wines from other parts of the world, including Argentina, Chile, Hungary, and Australia.  If you enjoy a glass of wine with dinner once in a while, or a glass while you are cooking, I encourage you to try something imported, something new, and not just the cheap table wine that tastes like weird juice.  My favorite sparkling wine, far more than champagne, is Italian Prosecco, or the delightfully crisp Moscato D’Asti.  You get the bubbles and the feeling of something expensive and special, but without the bitter aftertaste champagne often leaves.

My parents and I have sort of adopted a “house red”.  We love the wines from the Kalbarri vineyard in Australia:

We don’t drink too much white wine anymore, but when we do, it’s usually the Orvieto Classico I introduced to my family upon my return to the states.  I haven’t found a vineyard that has reproduced the divine Classico that the Bigi vineyard does, but they don’t export their wine, so I’ve had to settle for another:

Chianti, however, will always have a special place in my heart because it reminds me of all of the meals I ate, the friends I made, the personal growing I did, and the memories I made throughout Italy.  Wine is a huge part of life over there, not a beverage on which one becomes drunk, but one that is enjoyed in company and to celebrate every wonderful thing about life.  When I purchase a Chianti, (which I do only every once in a while because I’m a snob about it actually coming from the vineyards in Tuscany) I splurge a little, because some things in life, as in relationships, are about quality, not quantity.

Here is where I will sound like a huge wine snob:  do not buy boxed wine.  It’s never as good as bottled, and it tells anyone who looks in your refrigerator that either you are incredibly cheap or you drink so much that you need a giant straw to go into your liquored up juice box.  In conclusion, enjoying wine and being a wine snob does not make you an alcoholic or a bad person.  It’s always about moderation, friends, just like with junk food, children, and romantic comedies.

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In an olive grove

I was born into one of those ethnic groups which hold sacred such things as olives.  The value of this little fruit became more clear when I studied art in Italy.  Olives don’t merely garnish cocktails or perk up a vegetable platter.  The oil of olives isn’t used simply to sauté food and dress salads.  Writer Marlena de Blasi best describes the ancient gift of the olive in her beautiful memoir, A Thousand Days in Tuscany.  It takes great effort to squeeze the oil from an olive, but the lifeblood of each plays a major role in Mediterranean cultures from blessing a child at birth to anointing a body upon death.  I find it quite beautiful that olives, though simple and slightly ugly, are an important piece of the history of many ancient societies.

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Maria’s Adventure in Paraguay (II)

Lighthouse headquarters in Upland received a call from the sponsors of Maria’s mission team, and Team Paraguay has finally arrived at their final destination of Arroyo Bandera!  The Iguazú Falls were beyond their imaginations, and I cannot wait to see my sister’s pictures.  They spent a day at the Puerto Barra Aché community, a village which has already interacted with TU, to orient the students on Aché culture.  In addition to learning so many things about these beautiful people, Maria & her friends played soccer with the kids and swam in the river.  Yes, Maria swam in a river in Paraguay.  Pretty cool.

The team has finally reached Arroyo Bandera after having to push their vans part of the way due to muddy roads, which sounds like a good time.  Today they are meeting the people of the Arroyo Bandera  Aché community and setting up for their construction work and ministry.  I cannot imagine what my sister is feeling and experiencing.

If you are one who prays, please pray for the continued safety and health of the team, that the Aché and Americans will be able to effectively communicate through language barriers, and that the hearts of both groups of people will be changed.

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