Thursday, March 29, 2018

Good, groceries and Vietnam

 This week,  friend Sara Holbrook wrote about food being served in a school cafeteria in Romania. Her post resonates.

I heard echoes of it on vacation in Vietnam. An Australian and I were helping ourselves to some passion fruit juice and fresh tomatoes and cheese during breakfast on the AuCo cruise through Ha’Long Bay. I started raving about the food and presentation as cruisers go do. He echoed the praises for the fresh prawn and tamarind, the wasabi mashed potatoe, the hot soups: mushrooms and coconut chicken. Delicious, decadent, the food and caring service. Then came the next standard question, “where are you from?”

“I live in Singapore, but I am from the United States,” I replied.

“Ah, they’ve all but ruined food in the states, right? Poison and preservatives, I think,” he said.

I don’t disagree. How could we reshape ourselves, our children, our elderly, if stopped serving factory-made foods? If we didn’t, as Michael Pollan says, eat anything our grandmothers or great grandmothers wouldn’t recognize as food.  I know I would be healthier if I consistently made good food choices. 

Eat fresh. Move more.

Part of the moving is gathering and preparing the food ourselves. That  part of the work of food is easy to avoid. We can order delivery or stop in a food court (in Singapore these are called Hawker centers). We have groceries delivered to our doors. We buy pre-made pastas, pre-cut vegetables, pre-baked bread, whole pizzas or meals, frozen.

Walking the wet markets in the old quarter in Hanoi, Vietnam, I can see the work that fresh, whole food takes: growing, harvesting, cleaning, trimming,  chopping, selling. There are certainly less plastic and preservatives here, an environmental  bonus of choosing such foods. 

We might gain time, but our health suffers when we give up all the work of food. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Will and Skill

Birdsong begins as day dawns. The air is cool, humidity low. The streets are starting to wake up in Hanoi. I can hear the busy beep beep of motorbikes coming around the corner next to the Cinnamon Cathedral hotel. Such skill those motor bikers have. They stream through the streets in seeming endless swarms. Sometimes their flocking movements make sense and other times they cut random routes across plazas or pedestrian walkways.

Skill and will— we have  conversations about both  at school in our PLC groups when we talk intervention or acceleration strategies for learners. Does the learner have tremendous skill and the will to push forward? Or is skill lagging because the will is not engaged? 

I’ve noticed tremendous skill and strong will here on the streets of Hanoi. Women cycling or walking their bikes with stories of flowers or paneers brimming with greens, herbs and vegetable. Women running local restaurants from stock pots — turning steam and vegetables and bits of meat and noodles into old broth and meals to share:  a living. 

Women working from bicycle shops selling eggs, fruits and vegetables.

Strong will and the skill to skirt traffic and communicate clearly and wheel such loads gracefully. Good reminders for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Good Morning Vietnam

I am an early riser, a morning Lark not a night Owl. I wake up early—usually before five. This vacation morning I was ready to sleep. The bed was comfy. The air con was set to chill and the cathedral-view room, cozy and dark.

Then: church bells. A chorus of bells, clad, ring, bong, Dong, clang, hummm. [When I get home I will add the church bell video— the WiFi here at the hotel won’t upload to YouTube this morning.]

“No, we won’t mind the church bells,” I reassured the hotelier when she checked us in.

And even at five in the morning, I didn’t, really. The Lord must wake the priests, the nuns, the lay people— entire town or at least those in a two block radius, I grinned groggily once the bells woke me.

Good morning, Vietnam!