An All-American Meal & Our Guests from Thailand

My Sister, The Iron Girl, came into town this past week on business.  She lives in Minnesota, about 525 miles away, which means we do not get to see each other as often as we might like.  So I consider myself quite lucky to have seen her four times since this past June and three of those times have been in the last six weeks.

She stayed with us this past week, which was nice, but what was even nicer was that I got to spend some time with two of her business associates – two sweet, smart, wonderful women from Thailand.

Preeyaporn and Pattarin from Thailand.

It was nice to go out to a restaurant with them.  We went to a little place, The Vine, which was acquired a year or so ago by my best friend’s daughter and son-in-law.  It is located in the historic district of St. Charles, MO.  They really enjoyed walking around the area, and the food was great, too.

These two have traveled all over the world – New York City and Long Island, London, Buenos Aires, and, yes, even St. Louis, Missouri.  I admire the fact that they seem to do all of this traveling somewhat fearlessly, renting cars and taking in the local sites and eating all kinds of local cuisine in-between working many long hours in their roles as auditors.

They are obviously well educated and well regarded within their company.  What is interesting is that back in their homes in Bangkok, they live with their families.  That is because, in their culture, women live at home until they get married.  Do not mistake this to mean that these two are not independent, hard working women with strong opinions.  Because, if you did think this, you would be completely wrong.

One of the women actually has this full-time job and also owns a little coffee shop in a resort town on the beach about 2 hours from Bangkok which she seems to manage effectively even while traveling around the globe.

We talked to her about serving stuff besides coffee.  Apparently, she has trouble baking things.  Things like cookies.  I talked to her about technique, and she has promised to try again and maybe sell some in her shop.

I agreed to make them an All-American meal in our home.  I was more than happy to do this so we started to sort out what to make.  Since they have already spent some time in our country we eliminated a lot of obvious choices – burgers, BBQ, ribs – basically most anything that you can find at an Applebee’s or other typical American chain restaurant.

Apparently, they love Applebee’s.

This is the menu we settled on – meatloaf, mashed potatoes (these two LOVE mashed potatoes which was my starting point), peas, rolls, and gooey butter cake (a St. Louis tradition) for dessert.  I also decided to add a small appetizer of cream cheese and jalapeño jelly with crackers.  I couldn’t resist serving some of my home grown peppers.

Everything I made, except the rolls, was gluten free since my sister cannot eat anything with flour in it.  That just made it slightly more challenging.  I’m getting pretty good at working around special diets.

Our All-American Meal – meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas.

I did ask, first, to make sure that there were no foods that they could not eat due to religious or cultural reasons.  There were none.  I asked if there were any foods that they do not like.  They couldn’t think of a single food that they haven’t liked to eat so far.

They do not drink anything alcoholic.  So, I decided to serve some raspberry lemonade with dinner and some hot apple cider with dessert.

I love to travel, and I love to meet and spend time with people from other countries and cultures.  I find that most people are more alike than they are different.  Most people love their countries.  Most people love their cultures.  Most people love their friends and families.  Our geographies and climates may vary.  Our traditions may be different.  Our family dynamics may not be the same.  But most of us have a desire to spend time with others and to have others spend time with us – we are social creatures after all.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome these two women into our home.  As always, sharing a meal, prepared with love, is one of the best ways to break down barriers and to bring people closer together.

The three business women in our home.  That’s my sister in the middle in case you wanted to know.

We had a lovely evening.  They really loved the mashed potatoes.  They loved the cream cheese – it was a new food to them.  We talked about work and families and traveling and different languages and cultures.  I gave them some homemade jalapeño jelly and raspberry jam to take home with them.

They came in through the front door as guests in our home, but left through the back door as our new friends from Thailand.  Back door friends are the best friends to have.

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