Category Archives: Food Adventures

MAKING MOMOS – Kitchen Culture with Nepali Refugees from Bhutan

I once took a cooking class in Thailand, but there’s no need to go that far to experience a foreign culture or learn an exotic dish. I recently learned to make momos, or Nepali dumplings, right here in Denver. My teachers were two Nepali refugees from Bhutan. This was a cooking class with a story to tell.

This story started in the 1890s, when the Bhutanese government invited Nepali farmers to settle in southern Bhutan to help supply food to the country. In 1958, Bhutan’s royal government granted citizenship to the settlers. Then, in 1988, the king ordered a census in southern Bhutan; those citizens who couldn’t produce land tax receipts from the year 1958 were reclassified as illegal immigrants. In the ensuing years, Bhutan’s efforts to protect its cultural heritage devolved into a campaign to eradicate Nepalese traditions.

Years later Hari would teach cooking in Denver, and tell a kitchen full of American women how Nepalis in Bhutan weren’t allowed to speak their own language.

Hari Khanal was a toddler then, but years later she would teach cooking classes in Denver, and one night she would tell a kitchen full of American women how Nepalis in Bhutan weren’t allowed to speak their own language or wear their traditional clothes. Women weren’t allowed to have long hair. Many Nepalis were subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture. “The women were, I don’t know how to say it, they were forced…” Hari looked uncomfortable as she tried to remember the word for rape. Her family was one of many who fled to Nepal. Nepal’s government wouldn’t repatriate the refugees, so they lived in a refugee camp. “They wouldn’t let us go for 17 years.” Today Hari has such a ready smile it’s tempting to think none of it happened, but for many the crisis continues.

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PICKING MY OWN FOOD: Raspberry Picking at Berry Patch Farms

The raspberry lets go of the vine with a soft tug. And another, and another. As I move down rows of bowing green bushes dangling plump rubies, the sun drills my neck with the last blast of summer. I’m reconnecting with my food, going a step farther than the farmers market, straight to the source.

Berry Patch Farms’ is backed by the Rocky Mountains, and fronted by a red barn, skittish chickens, and a truly porky pig.

Just a half hour from my Denver home, tears spring to my eyes as I consider Berry Patch Farms’ long green rows of fruits and veggies — backed by the Rocky Mountains, and fronted by a red barn, skittish chickens, and a truly porky pig. In the city, it’s easy to forget how natural this feels: gathering food from the earth.

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A CALIFORNIA GIRL AT THE ALASKA STATE FAIR: Cream Puffs, Dead Turtles, and Beach Boys

On one of the closing days of an Alaska summer, my husband and I take his sister and her husband to the State Fair in Palmer. When I lived in the Last Frontier, I enjoyed the fair year after year, even though it’s small – because it’s small. This will be a perfect way for siblings and in-laws to enjoy an activity together, regardless of differing interests.

Dale’s brother-in-law, Nathan, and sister, Luann: the Alaska State Fair is a perfect place to enjoy an activity together, regardless of differing interests.

My sister-in-law, Luann, has suggested we go to The Beach Boys concert at the fair. A California Girl flying from Denver to Alaska to see The Beach Boys? That’s too much irony to pass up. However, I wonder, “Aren’t they Beach Men yet?”

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High Tea, Strong Women

Often at Thanksgiving, our family gathers in Los Angeles: my father, his wife, my grandparents, two younger stepsisters, a teenybopper half-sister, and me. (My husband is a jeweler, so he always stays home in Denver to prepare for Black Friday.) But this year, my father is getting divorced, so Dad, my 13-year-old sister Miraya, and I ate turkey at Marie Callender’s – just the three of us, in and out in 45 awkward minutes. Then, a few days later, several of us girls recaptured a bit of family togetherness and holiday joy, at high tea.

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