Sunday, 19 January 2014

Mommy, what's ham?

Tartiflette - a famous dish in the French region of Upper Savoy, consisting of potatoes, reblochon cheese, and chunks of ham.  I ordered it for lunch during our ski vacation in the Alps, with a plate of ham and sausage varieties on the side. Kids would not touch any of it.
When we moved to Madagascar, we had to be careful about what we ate. Strawberries were a no-no (pig manure possibly containing worms could have been used as fertilizer - the worms can get inside the permeable skin of the strawberries and then you eat them and you could get a worm in your brain). I also stopped buying pork and ham for the family because of sanitation conditions in the local pork industry. This was a radical change from Italy, where prosciutto crudo (cured ham) was a family staple.

Fast forward two years later, and we had move to Kuwait. In Kuwait, just like back in Madagascar, we eat no pork products, not because of sanitation issues, but because we're in an Islamic state where the raising or importation of any and all pork products has been banned.

Last night, I read the Bambino the book Green Eggs Ham just before bedtime. At the end of the book, I asked the Bambino, in a teasing kind of way because he is such an incredibly picky eater, "Do YOU like green eggs and ham?"

"What's ham?", he replied.

This is what I get for not serving my children pork products for a period of five years straight.

To be honest, I did try to serve pork back in France last summer, but the kids didn't take to it. They weren't used to it. They picked the lardons out of the penne pasta with parmesan cheese that I had served them. They wouldn't have any of the organic pork sausage that I had bought at the farmer's market. They've never fancied sandwiches of any kind, so I don't bother preparing them. The Bambino was offered ham sandwiches at his day camp and while he did apparently eat the bread, he wouldn't touch the ham. Didn't know what it was. Didn't want to know.

I tell myself that in the long run, this is better. Pork and ham contain nitrates that have been added as a preservative. That stuff can't be good. And my vegetarian friends never cease to tell me that pigs are smarter than dogs, so we definitely should not be eating them. Still, it makes ordering food at the restaurant in the French countryside or the Alps all the more difficult. They don't eat much of any other meat there and vegetarian main courses are almost non-existent, unless you're in the Alps and you order cheese fondue.