With Christmas being only a few short days away, I know I have a treat in store – visiting the in-laws! One of the things I love most about visiting my fiancée’s American family is knowing that they will, without fail, introduce me to a new and interesting dish. As a seasoned foodie, I never consider my stay in any country to be complete until I have tasted as many of its national dishes as possible. My motto in life, especially when it comes to food, is to be open to trying anything once. My future mother-in-law, an excellent chef who loves feeding people, is always more than happy to indulge my passion for unfamiliar cuisine. It was thanks to her efforts that I had the pleasure of trying a dish known as the Tater Tot Casserole.
As you have probably gathered by now, I am not an American. I hail from England, where casseroles exist, but not of the tater tot variety. Actually, I had never even heard of tater tots until joining the in-laws at their Huntington Beach home earlier this semester. Fortunately, my fiancée was more than happy to share her knowledge of this American tradition. Tater tots, she explained, are a sort of miniature hash brown, a fare that is typically produced from the leftover potato shavings of manufactured French fries. Once balled together, these potato lumps are frozen, bagged, and sold to be microwaved at home. Though not a particularly appetizing image, tater tots are a staple amongst Americans and a special favorite for children of all backgrounds.
The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, I was six years old. The visit came about because my family was moving from Nevada to Texas and we wanted to check out this wonder on the way. I remember walking to the edge of the canyon after sitting in the car for hours, staring down into the infinite abyss, and then looking back at my dad and thinking, “This is it?”
Fast forward 17 years later and I am standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon for a second time. It is breathtaking. There is snow on the ground, couples walking their dogs, and very few kids running around (must be something about the edge of a canyon that scares parents). The canyon is quiet in sound but loud with color and depth. It is a bright rustic red and orange but, in the crevasses, it is a dark purple. The South Rim shows melted snow running down the side of the canyon and patches of solid ice where the sun has not yet touched. I found a flat rock where not many people were. My boyfriend and I had just begun to meditate when a woman interrupted us to ask if we could take a picture of her. She was from South Africa; so is my boyfriend. They began to speak in Afrikaans and he learned that she has a safari in South Africa and teaches at the same elementary school at which his mom teaches. He misses his home in South Africa, so to meet someone who tells him how beautiful it still is makes him happy, which in turn, makes me happy.