What a beautiful word. Nothing in this world makes me happier than food. Let’s think about my favorite foods for a moment…
Chipotle, chicken, ice cream, cucumbers, strawberries, Chick-fil-a, Italian dressing, I can go on forever.
It’s amazing to think about how important food is in my life. I would miss all of these things if I was to move to a different country…
But that’s beside the point. To my loyal readers, you remember Sam, my friend from Sri Lanka. For you newcomers, Sam is a new friend that I am getting to know this semester. He was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the United States four years ago.
I asked Sam how he’s holding up without his hometown favorites.
“Sri Lanka takes pride in their wide variety of food, from sweet to spice and everything in-between,” Sam said. “My personal favorite is kiribath (milk rice).”
Kiribath is the main dish served during the Sinhalese New Year.
In Sri Lanka, friends and family gather across the nation to celebrate this holiday. Food is an important part of this tradition.
I talked a bit about the Sinhalese New Year in my last post, but as a refresher, it is the celebration of a new year in mid-April. It symbolizes the the jump of the last astrology sign to the first, which begins a new year.
Sam said he hasn’t been able to celebrate with his family and eat kiribath in three years. Three whole years!
Wondering what other foods are important to Sri Lankan culture for the new year celebration, I took to Google and searched. I found that curries and sweetmeats are prepared in every home. Another important dish on the table is called Hath Maluwa, which according to trip2lanka, “usually includes vegetables, cereal, yam and cashew.” I wouldn’t have thought to put these ingredients together!
Trip2lanka also explains that Sri Lanka has a lot of sweet foods. These foods cover the Avurudu table during the new year celebration as decoration.
Spicy curries are popular in Sri Lanka, as well as varieties of fish. Sri Lanka uses numerous ways to prepare fish. “’Lunu dehi’ (lime pickle) and jaadi (pickled fish) are food items made from methods of preserving since they could dry them in sun during rainless days” (lanka.com). Drying fish with salt is called “Karawala.”
Back to the conversation.
I asked him what kiribath tastes like, because to me it looks like simple rice with some kind of spice. He said that it is “pretty much rice with milk, but solidified… It’s creamy and and smooth.”
If you want to try to make kiribath, here’s a website explaining the recipe and instructions!
Sam’s connection of kiribath with family tradition and celebration reminds me of my association with turkey. I associate turkey and gravy to family, mostly because of Thanksgiving and Christmas. My roommate spent this past Christmas in Kodaikanal, India. She wasn’t able to have traditional Christmas dinner with her family, which like mine, is turkey, gravy, ham, potatoes and vegetables.
I’m not sure how she did it. I can’t even imagine missing Christmas! I don’t know how Sam does it.
So then we started talking about American food and food he finds intriguing. I talked about my obsession with Chipotle and totally embarrassed myself but hey, no shame here.
He thinks cheese curd is different but delicious.
“I was lucky enough to have some Wisconsin cheese curd over the summer last year and it was great… Not so great for your heart though, from what I’ve heard,” Sam told me.
I’m not sure I’ve even had cheese curd. I have family in Minnesota, so maybe I’ll ask them about it when I visit this summer.