Lost in Translation

We celebrated Christmas early with Nina and Jane, our international student "daughters," because they both went home for the break (Nina to China; Jane to Vietnam). This is a Christmas morning picture. One of our traditions is that each person (except me, for some reason--probably because I buy it generally) gets to pick and get (I wrap them!) a personal box of cereal (and it can EVEN be a sugary kind). Guess what we have for Christmas morning breakfast! So, really, I guess there's a present in there for me, too!

Last week I fixed an African rice pilau for dinner. Jane’s friends, Faith and Joy, sisters who are originally from Zambia, were spending the night, and I thought they might enjoy it. They went out to dinner before coming over, though, and so weren’t hungry, and all the younger kids turned up their noses at it and ate leftovers instead (and so it often goes when you have to feed eight people from three different countries who range in age from 6 to 41).

Jane, Dave, and I DID eat the pilau, but Nina, THE pickiest person in the house (which she willingly admits), sniffed it and said, “Smells like medicine.”

Hmm. I let that soak in for a minute before answering. (Oh, the wisdom of James 1:18-20: “…be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry).

Finally, “Um, is that meant to be a compliment?”

“Oh, yes.”


Her eyes were round and serious as she nodded. “You know, like Chinese medicine.”

“Chinese medicine?”

She crossed the room to point at the spice rack with its pictures of cinnamon, cloves, and garlic (all of which were in the pilau). “Like these.”

“Ah! Spices,” I said.

“Mmhmm. Chinese medicine.”

So, yes, actually a compliment!

But she still fixed herself potstickers for dinner.

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