It’s an interesting experience to view your country through the eyes of someone else. Looking back I’m not sure why I hadn’t considered what a highlight this would be during our time living abroad. We encountered people who were in awe of us and those who passed judgment on us, not after getting to know us, but simply because we were from the United States.
Both situations made me equally uncomfortable, and it made me very self-aware regarding how I was perceived by others. What stood out to me the most was how the US was truly seen as the land of opportunity among the majority of people we encountered.
While we were welcoming a new adventure and happily leaving the US for a while, it felt so strange to have people view my country in this way when I really just wanted to experience theirs. After you encounter these reactions time and time again it makes you begin to think – maybe I should appreciate my own country a little more.
That is exactly what happened. Although what I appreciate about it is something that I never really considered before.
Sometimes I think we fail to remember that unless we happen to be American Indians, we’re not from here. Somewhere along the line someone in our families crossed those waters and was allowed to enter this great country we now call home. That may have happened many generations ago for some, or last year for others.
Personally, I don’t wave my flag to say ours is better than others. It’s waved to say I appreciate those who fought for the freedoms of this very diverse country, a diversity that began long ago and continues to this day. What I appreciate the most is that I can live and work among people whose cultures and heritage make my life richer whether it’s rooted in the hills of Kentucky or brought with them from abroad.
All that being said you likely also know my appreciation for food culture in this country. So a 4th of July barbecue taking place at our house just had to have a bit of an international flare.
On Friday, we stocked up on a ridiculous amount of local, pastured pork from Marksbury Farm Market. The pork butt was rubbed down, smoked and served US-style with sweet and spicy BBQ sauces. The 6 lbs of pork sirloin kebabs, on the other hand, were headed in a different direction.
In college, my husband had a friend of Filipino heritage and his family would throw some amazing barbecues. I had the opportunity to attend one and the pork kebabs were simply incredible. My husband learned to make their delicious marinade and we thought it would be a great way to make our own barbecue this weekend a bit more international.
I stocked up on veggies from the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. This included potatoes for my Mustard Chive Potato Salad (although chives were replaced with dill this time and I used a lot more Greek yogurt), and colorful cherry tomatoes really brightened up the Curry Wheat Berry Salad. Basil from the garden and a good bunch of heirloom tomatoes rounded out the meal with a Caprese Salad.
It all went over well, but the pork kebabs were definitely the star for us. I won’t hide my excitement that while most of the food was gone, there were a few pork kebabs leftover. Whether you use it for chicken, pork or beef, or what the heck, even tofu, the Filipino-style marinade is outstanding.
Filipino-style Pastured Pork Kebabs
6 lbs pork sirloin, cubed and skewered
3 heads of garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
Juice of 8 oranges
4 cups soy sauce
1 ½ cups white vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
Place the kebabs in a deep baking pan. It’s best to work the marinade in two batches so divide each of the ingredients in half. Add half the garlic cloves, the juice of 4 oranges (reserve the peels), about 2 cups of soy sauce, ¾ cup vinegar and ¼ cup brown sugar to a blender. Blend on medium to high until all ingredients are mixed and the marinade is somewhat foamy.
Pour the marinade over the pork and continue with the second batch of marinade. Once all of the marinade is on the pork, place the leftover orange peels among the kebabs. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to grill, once the grill is nice and hot, cook the pork to a temperature of 160 degrees F.