American Spaghetti

Quite often, we get people who come to IBTS to spend their sabbatical or research time. It can be as short as several days, but some stay for a longer period of time, and that’s the case with a lovely couple from the US, Josh and Alison, who have become a part of our community for the whole academic year. We’ve already become good friends and are enjoying different ways they take part in community’s life (including Josh playing our bongos!). Here’s a little snapshot from their blog where Alison describes preparing a supper for our weekly Bible study for CATs (full version can be found here):

[I had to] decide what to cook this Tuesday for the 25 students who attend Bible study. It was a difficult choice since the request was that I prepare something that represented my culture or family. If you think about it there are not many true American dishes, and since I was serving a bunch of Europeans I knew they would instantly sniff out a fraud if I attempted to Americanize a dish. In light of this, I decided to go with the second request and prepare a family based dish: spaghetti. If you are reading this and have ever dined at the Kilgore house, at some point you have probably been served spaghetti; if you are reading this and have ever eaten at “my” house (over the past five or so years) at some point you have probably been served spaghetti. 🙂 Needless to say it is a staple in my diet so I figured- Eastern European students, I know it’s Italian but here it comes!

Things began smoothly. It was probably the largest crowd I’ve ever cooked for so I gave myself plenty of time and hauled all the needed ingredients (which thankfully had not been too hard to find) from our apartment down to the community building that the students share. Since their kitchen far exceeds our own. I began my work sautéing and mixing and doing quite well, appreciating that I had chosen something I’ve cooked many times before. The students who live in the building trickled in and out of the kitchen, and many offered to help. They are very kind and no matter how old they are (ranges from19-35yrs) I think each of them could feed an entire army- and clean up the mess in under an hour; very helpful and very efficient people but I declined their offers. I think, based on three separate conversations, that they must have all had an English lesson that day which included, “Do you like the city, Prague?” So while chopping apples (decided on apple crisp for dessert) I did a lot of explaining about my opinion of Prague.:)

Josh came and helped peel those apples and the clock kept ticking. The apple crisp came out perfectly, the sauce was simmering flawlessly, and the garlic bread was sitting waiting to be warmed…the final task being to cook the pasta noodles. A simple task right? Right… except there was only one huge pot. Assuming this would be ok I set the water boiling and added five containers of pasta. Just as people started to arrive the pasta started acting up. Apparently the water to pasta ratio was not nearly enough so when Josh went to stir the noodles there was No water left and some, no tons, of very slimy–about-to-be-congealed-beyond-belief-noodles. I was so frantic at this point that I just kept repeatedly asking josh – why did this happen? There was pasta flying everywhere – literally. I thought, maybe we should just forego the pasta and pretend the sauce was some kind of American soup. ! I could hear more people gathering in the dining area and we frantically (thanks to Josh’s fast thinking suggestion) began scooping out huge portions of the spaghetti and rinsing it in the sink with strainers. I kept trying to stifle Josh’s loud exclamations about how gross this was for the sake of the nerves of our dining friends hungrily waiting in the next room. We used all of their pots in our ridiculous dilemma but rinsing our slimy spaghetti strands seemed to work – and by 18:30 (the appointed time for dinner) we had it all squared away.

Thankfully, it all turned out fine. The students clapped and shouted a positive remark in Russian (something to the effect of thank you, bon appetite, or yum) at the revealing of their dinner. Many asked for recipes and I think it is safe to say that in the end it was a culinary success!

Leave a Reply