Global Studies and a Poem, Annotated – Food and Memories – by Abigail Blonigen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Global Studies and a Poem, Annotated – Food and Memories – by Abigail Blonigen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[encebollado1: This is the encebollado I had at an Ecuadorian restaurant in Chicago. It was served with rice, limes, and tostados, or roasted corn. The wait staff (who were from Quito) were very impressed when I asked for aji!]

Food and drink have a way of bringing people together, more so than almost anything else. Every culture, family, and individual has their specialty dish and their favorite beverage. Drinking culture varies greatly across the globe, but has one commonality: drinking too much alcohol makes one feel pretty sick the next day. Naturally, many cultures have dishes that are supposed to help one feel better in this situation. The English breakfast, the Mexican menudo, and the Vietnamese pho have all been cited as hangover “cures.”

The Ecuadorian version of this dish is called encebollado, which I will explain below in a poem. This smelly soup holds a special place in my heart, so much so that when I came across it at an Ecuadorian restaurant in Chicago, it brought tears to my eyes. This poem is a testament to how meaningful a dish can become when tied to memories, experiences, people, and places, especially when those people and places are very far away.

 

Hangover Soup – A Poem

 

In Ecuador, the word for hangover is chuchaqui.[1]

I will never forget it.

Not after I stumbled downstairs

to the water pitcher[2]

the morning after my friend’s birthday party

as my host dad was cooking breakfast.[3]

He looked me straight in my

bloodshot eyes and asked,

¿Chuchaqui?

Chuchaqui, I replied.

 

What happened next changed my life forever.

My host dad handed me

a bowl of the most questionable soup

I had ever seen.

Encebollado, [4] it was called.

Tuna, tree tomatoes,[5]

pickled onion and yuca,[6]

drowned in greasy broth and topped with

mustard, lime juice, hot sauce de ají,[7]

popcorn, and banana chips.[8]

 

Do not judge a soup by its smell.

The first bite

almost turned me off,

but as soon as that soup

went from esophagus to stomach,

I knew that the Ecuadorians had found it:

the hangover cure.

¿Te gusta? [9]asked my host dad,

his mustache turning upwards

into a smile.

 

I cannot make encebollado here,

as many of the ingredients

are explicitly Ecuadorian,

but I crave it

just as I crave

the seven hour long bus rides

through the Andes,[10]

the wet heat of the Amazon,[11]

the mangrove mazes of the coast,[12]

and the smooth Spanish on my lips.[13]

 

The best I could do for this weekend’s chuchaqui

was hashbrowns.[14]

[encebollado2: This was the first time I ever tried the dish, as referenced in the poem.]

[1] Many slang terms in Ecuador come from the Indigenous Kichwa language. A branch of the more well known Quechua language, Kichwa is spoken in Ecuador, Colombia, and parts of Peru. I am unsure if the word chuchaqui is completely Kichwa or an interpretation of it. This source says it comes from the Kichwa word chaqui which is the feeling after chewing on coca leaves. The word for hangover in Spanish, though it clearly varies region to region, is resaca.

[2] We exchange students were advised to not drink water from the tap, even in the big city of Quito. This is because the water could have elements that our American bodies were not used to. Because of this, my host family kept a pitcher of boiled water out for me to fill my water bottle.

[3]  Breakfast usually consisted of an egg, scrambled or fried, pan (bread), jam, and instant coffee. This day, however, was a special occasion.

[4] Cebolla is the Spanish word for onion, so encebollado roughly means “onioned.”

[5] Tree tomatoes, tamarillos, or tomates de árbol, are a fruit native to the Andean highlands. Shaped like an egg, they grow on bushes and are found in soups, sauces, and made into juice.

[6] Yuca, or cassava, is a root vegetable kind of like a potato, but with a rougher exterior and almost stringy interior. Yuca was in almost every soup I tried and is also excellent fried.

[7] Ají means chili pepper in Spanish, but it’s also the word for the Ecuadorian signature hot sauce. Though it could be found in grocery stores, the best ají was homemade with tree tomatoes, ají amarillo (Andean yellow chili peppers), onion, cilantro, and lime juice. It is found in every restaurant and household, used on literally everything, and is delicious.

[8] Popcorn and banana chips (chifles) were set out as a topping any time soup was served. Soup was typically the first course for both lunch and dinner.

[9] Do you like it?

[10] Busses were extremely cheap to ride in Ecuador and could take you almost anywhere in the country.

[11] My group went on a trip to Yasuní National Park on the outskirts of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

[12] The word for mangrove in Spanish is manglar. We visited the northwestern coast of Ecuador near Esmeraldas and learned about the importance of these trees. Usually found on coasts in tropical areas, mangroves keep soil from eroding and help protect coastal communities from tropical storms. Mangrove forests hold more carbon than even rainforests, making them important worldwide. These forests are being threatened by rising sea levels and the shrimping industry.

[13] By the end of my trip I could speak Spanish without having to think about it too much, which was the coolest thing.

[14] Uncle Loui’s Cafe in Duluth, Minn. is a breakfast joint notorious for its long line of college customers on Sunday mornings.

Abigail serves as an assistant editor for The North Star Reports.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Ellie Swanson and Marin Ekstrom, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

 

25 Comments

Filed under Abigail Blonigen, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

25 responses to “Global Studies and a Poem, Annotated – Food and Memories – by Abigail Blonigen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. Averie Fredrickson-Seibert

    Abigail,

    I really enjoyed hearing about your trip. The poem you wrote also offered some great insight into your experiences in a way that a regular article sometime cannot. I really liked hearing about how your time in a new culture has influenced you. Throughout time, there is a theme of people encountering new cultures and the influence that those encounters have on history. In Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, Tignor writes “By the early third millennium bce, Crete had made occasional contact with Egypt and the coastal towns of the Levant, encountering new ideas, technologies, and materials as foreigners arrived on its shores” (Tignor, 74). I think that the way that new cultures helped to spread ideas is very relatable to your experiences. I am sure that your trip offered you new insight into the Ecuadorian culture that you brought home to the U.S. and shared with friends and family.

    Thanks,
    Averie

  2. Justice Bauer

    Hi Abigail.

    I really appreciated this poem and the background of it. First off, I think that it is really cool that you were able to experience living with a host family in Ecuador. That must have been an amazing experience. Second, this poem was very beautiful and humorous at the same time. I appreciated your comment before the poem “drinking too much alcohol makes one feel pretty sick the next day”, when talking about differences in commonalities between cultures. This reminded me of the chapter that I read for my history class and how it talked about culture and the meanings behind something. I specifically liked the deeper meaning behind this “smelly soup” that cured your Chuchaqui. It brings you memories of your host family and the comfort of their presence and I think that it is beautiful. I really enjoyed your poem and I learned the word for “hangover” in Ecuadorian which is interesting. Thank you for sharing your story and poem with us. It was a great read!

    Justice Bauer

  3. Dawson Ness

    Abigail,
    Thank you for your wonderful article and poem. Connecting to a culture through food is something so wonderful to experience. I will always jump at a chance for some Swedish style meatballs to remind me of home when I am off at college. It is tragic to hear that the ingredients to this dish that you connect so deeply to are unavailable. Channeling these emotions of longing into a poem is a beautiful way to express your longing. I am glad that you were able to find the dish in Chicago, but I wish everything was more available for you at home. If you need any support in petitioning local grocery stores to carry the ingredients you need, I’ll back you up.
    Best wishes,
    Dawson N.

    • DyAnna Grondahl

      Abigail,

      Thank you for sharing this piece. As your former roommate, I find your poem quite funny and satisfying. Your words are like champions as you write that the Ecuadorians have found the hangover cure. I think food culture is one of those curious little things that people think separates us from culture to culture, but I would agree and say that food may be the most powerful connecting element among people. Though foods may differ between group to group, we all have a prized dish or two up our sleeve that could bring just about everyone immense joy. In addition, I think the idea of sharing a table, and thus sharing food at a table is a tremendous image of connection. Why else would my mom have heckled my 7 siblings and I so much about eating at the table – could it be that we got along better when we were forced to be nice to each other over pork chops?

      Thanks again,
      DyAnna

  4. Allison Einck

    Abigail,

    Thank you for sharing your poem. I enjoyed reading how meaningful the experience eating encebollado was for you. It is cool that the restaurant in Chicago brought you back to a place you once were. This reminds me of a reading in my textbook and how culture spreads throughout various places. As people move they bring new ideas and beliefs to different places. For example, transhumant herders and pastoral nomads migrated into new areas bringing new languages, religious practices, and new technologies.

    Alli

  5. Cassandra Mahlberg

    Abby, this is such a beautiful expression of your time in Ecuador. I think it is really fascinating that you took this approach to food culture. It’s something no one typically talks about, but drinking culture is also ingrained in people’s identities. It’s really fantastic that your host father was so up front about discussing your chuchaqui and that he offered you a way to alleviate your symptoms. I can’t lie and say that tuna soup sounds good, but I think it is probably one of those culturally acquired tastes that is especially good within an environmental context. Your poem itself is a descriptive and sweet interpretation of an intimate moment and food in your host family. Your feeling of longing is something I relate to on a deep level. Missing home away from home can be painful, but also a good way to remember journeys and consider future endeavors. I’m glad you could have the soup in Chicago and have such an emotional experience and I hope you can have it again in the near future. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Aleah Rubio

    Hi Abigail,
    This was by far my favorite North Star Reports that I have read so far. I love how you in cooperated a poem to explain your experience of trying encebollado. I was laughing so hard when you explained how at first you were really turned off by the smell and taste and when you said Ecuadorians found the cure for a hangover once the soup hit your stomach. I also find it very interesting when you first had that soup again in Chicago that it brought tears to your eyes. That is a perfect example of how food has such a powerful impact on cultures and a person’s experience living in a new culture as well. Thank you for this amazing post!

  7. Catey Swenson

    Hi Abigail,
    I always look forward to reading your posts about your trip to Ecuador. It is awesome that you got to see and try so many new things including the hangover cure of Ecuador. If I am being honest, it sounds… awful. With that being said, I would also really like to try it myself sometime. I dated someone from Ecuador while I was in high school and of all the Ecuadorian food I ate, I never disliked one dish. I also really enjoy the poem you wrote; it sounds like you have a very serious emotional connection to Ecuador. I hope to have a similar experience on my trip to Cuernavaca this spring. Learning a new language is extremely rewarding– Keep up the good work!
    Thanks again for sharing,
    Catey

  8. Hannah Holien

    Hi Abigail
    Your post reminded me of how diverse our culture is here in the US. We have a variety of food options from all over the world. It amazes me how far cultures and beliefs can travel. In “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart”, it talks about how early humans migrated and how these cultures were dispersed around Afro- Eurasia. One quote that stood out to me was, “They brought new languages and religious practices” (Tignor et al., p 84). With the new languages and beliefs came an opportunity to learn about a new culture. In the US, we have so many different cultures or blends of cultures. This gives us a huge opportunity to learn about new cultures and in this case try new food that we may never have tried before or that we haven’t had since we were in its native region. Thanks for sharing your post!
    -Hannah Holien

  9. Kasey Kalthoff

    Abigail,
    That soup sounds incredible. I have traveled to many countries and my favorite part is being truly integrated into the culture and having an experience such as your own. Had you never traveled abroad you may have never in your life tasted this famous hangover soup. I am reading a textbook called Worlds Together, Worlds Apart that is currently discussing integration among societies (Tignor et al., 2018). Based on your story, I believe this soup was a result of societal integration. And a true marvel it ended up being!
    What a great story, thanks for sharing,
    Kasey

  10. Lexi McCort

    Hi Abby!
    I absolutely loved reading about your memories of encebollado, and your poem was truly a sensory experience. I could have sworn I could smell it as I read. I was so surprised you found some in Chicago. It made me think a lot about how culture is spread across the world. In our Worlds Together, Worlds Apart we are learning about how migration was (and often still is) caused by a lack of resources, and this leads to a vast spread of culture as people move and communicate. It made me think about all the conflict that has happened in South America recently that has caused many people to seek refuge away from home. It’s just something interesting to think about, why people move and how their culture moves with them
    Thanks again for sharing! I wish I had a bowl right now.
    Lexi

  11. Grace Macor

    Abigail,

    I had a good laugh reading your poem. You are an incredible writer and I really enjoyed reading this article! I enjoyed how you relate your soup experience to Uncle Loui’s in Duluth, MN. It is true, regardless of where you are in the country, drinking too much alcohol can make you sick. In “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” Tignor et al. discusses how many cultures were brought together through migration and the need for resources (2018). I believe a hangover cure, whether in Ecuador or Duluth, is a resource that has been utilized in cultures all around the world!

    Great post!

    Grace

  12. ssymanietz@css.edu

    Hello Abigail,
    I throughly enjoyed reading your poem and learning about your experience in Ecuador. I found it heartwarming to hear the stories of your host family, it seemed like they cared for you like one of their own. I am familiar with the idea of hangover food, but in my experience it is usually composed of a greasy breakfast such as eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. Your poem about this soup almost makes my stomach turn without having a hangover. I’m sure this food will continue to bring memories for many years to come when you come across it. How amazing is it that food can be so versatile and so meaningful across cultures. It reminds me of Vedic people that held tight to their religion, language, and skills even when introduced to a new geographical location. I’m sure those in Ecuador would hold tight to this recipe no matter where they were geographically.
    Sarah

  13. Samantha Willert

    Hi Abigail,

    Thank you for sharing your story and that poem. I really enjoyed reading it. Although, when I was reading the ingredients for the soup in the poem, I was both disgusted and interested. Questions were roaming through my head like “how did someone ever think to create this soup,” “That looks very scary to try, ” and “I kind of want to try it.” I love the idea of culture spreading through people migrating into new places. I find trying new foods and learning about different practices and languages to be very intriguing.

  14. Tamer Mische-Richter

    Abigail,

    This post stands out from others that I have read on North Star. The addition of a poem is a really great visualization of having to drag yourself downstairs to breakfast after a night out. Food is interesting, as we all know, sometimes something that doesn’t smell so great tastes totally different. Having the craving for something that you cannot make is frustrating! Hopefully you can find a way to make encebollado, but in the meantime Uncle Louis is a great stand in.

  15. Madina Tall

    Hello Abigail!

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love that you tried to recreate the soup when you returned home because although you could not find the right ingredients, I’m sure that your host dad would be delighted to know that his soup made an impact so deep on you that you would bring it all the way back to Duluth Minnesota! This is one of many ways that globalization is bringing us altogether. The more we all learn about each other’s cultures and traditions, the more we learn to love and respect one another.

  16. Tara Bighley

    Abigail,
    I really enjoyed your post, and the addition of the poem really intrigued me. Everyone has had the dreadful day of having too much to drink only to be rummaging through the kitchen for anything to ease your pain. As I was reading the poem and the ingredients of the soup, I was definitely put off. As I continued to read that it helped make you feel better, I changed my tune some and would like to give it a try at some point in my life. Your sentence that talks about food and drinks bring people together, it reminded me about my textbook when it stated that “Famines occurred […] Herders and pastoral nomads, driven from grazing areas that were drying up, forced their ways into the heartlands of these great states in pursuit of better-watered lands” (Tignor, 2018 pg. 84). Even though your quote and the books quote had different connotations of ‘bringing people together,’ on a deeper level it has a similar meaning. This was a wonderful post. Thank you!

    Tara Bighley

  17. Phillip Truax

    Abigail,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story and creating your own twist by writing a poem. Although this poem may have only been about a cure for drinking to much I saw something else. When I read the end of this you talk about how you crave it, but not the soup but the memories of the area. That’s why i think you are also talking about the hang over of life. When to much of a bad thing happens in life and a person just gets sick from it, this is the food you eat to come back from your spiritual hang over .

  18. Lexie DeWall

    Abigail,

    Thank you for sharing your experience! It is truly amazing how much food can mean to cultures, as well as how it connect different cultures. Encebollado sounds like quite an interesting dish, and it is crazy how you were able to get over the smell to take in the refreshing effects of it curing your hangover. I’m sure the adapting to this new food took some time to get used to! Tignor et al. (2018) mentions, “The turn to settled agriculture was a major shift for the pastoral Vedic people. After all, their staple foods has always been dairy products and meat, and they were used to measuring their wealth in livestock” (p. 100). Adjusting to new food and cultures can take some time, but if you are willing to try new things, most often end up really enjoying it in the end.

  19. Tessa Erickson-Thoemke

    Abigail,

    Thank you for sharing your soup experience through a poem! I loved reading this because I can totally relate to your pain of not being able to have that soup. When I was abroad last semester, I traveled to Poland for spring break. While I was there I had the most AMAZING pierogies. I seriously dream about that meal. I’ve tried so hard to find a restaurant that makes them as good as the ones I had, but they have never been the same. So, I too crave a food from another country, along with all the adventures that accompanied it. I especially liked your line: “Do not judge a soup by its smell.” Oftentimes, people quickly turn up their noses at something from another culture that doesn’t seem desirable at first due to its unfamiliarity. This reminds me of the nomadic Vedic people from 1500 BCE. Though they despised the Ganges River valley locals’ rituals, they admired their farming skills and knowledge of seasonal weather (Tignor, 2018, p. 100). We can all learn something from those who have a different culture, including learning how delicious a traditional meal can be. Great article.

  20. Erin Diver

    Hi Abby,
    This was a really great poem, and I loved the footnotes you provided- they really helped me to understand the significance of each aspect of your poem. It’s really interesting to learn about food from other cultures. In the 6 years that I took German classes, there was never a dull moment when it came to learning about German food (especially how nasty sauerkraut smells when it’s being made). For some reason, learning about/ tasting food from other cultures make them feel closer, more personal- as I’m sure it did with you and your host father. Perhaps it’s because I can relate to the flavors, and for the flavors I don’t know, try really hard to imagine what it tastes like. Maybe it’s the fact that food is something that just automatically brings people together. In my World History course, we learn about how food had such a large impact on cultural decisions. The Vedic people, for example, were nomads and traveled from place to place. As “Worlds Together, Worlds Apart” explains, what really planted them in one spot was learning how to farm: “…they were in awe of the inhabitants’ farming skills and knowledge of seasonal weather… In addition to raising domesticated animals, they sowed wheat and rye on the Indus plain, and they learned to plant rice in the marshes… Later they mastered the use of plows with iron blades, an innovation that transformed the agrarian base of South Asia (Tignor, p.100). Without the awe and integration of food, would South Asia have ended up the same as it is today?

  21. Marissa Mikrot

    What an incredible way to express your love for a culture and place! The end of your poem is what hit me the most because the feeling of nostalgia transferred to myself. I think it’s fascinating how our brains work when related to memories. Now I’m sitting here reliving my memories of karelian pasty, kalakukko (a dish a would not recommend unless you love herring [muikku]), and kaalilaatikko. Similar to you, I’ve tried recreating some meals but come up short on ingredients, though mostly because salmon and muikku are expensive products. However, even if I did manage to create something similar to what I had in Helsinki, I’m not sure it would ever be as good as the “real stuff.”

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful piece of you!

  22. Elijah Ortega

    Hello Abby,
    This is was quite an enjoyable read, the poem really helps show the reader the feeling of the morning after a long night out. I really enjoy reading stories of the experiences had by those on the Ecuador trip and this was one I found particularly interesting, I found myself craving this onion filled soup. Through reading your words on this food I can tell how this culture had a impact on your life and I hope next year when I get to experience this trip, I get to enjoy these same aspects of the Ecuadorian culture. Thanks a lot for sharing the story and I look forward to seeing any future posts.

  23. Kyle Star

    Abigail,

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I completely agree with you saying that food and drink bring people together almost more than anything else. Going for dinners, cooking dinners, and sharing recipes though out your family is such a good way to bring people together. Back at home I always cook with my father and it is a way that him and I can really stay close. Every time I cook dinner out here, I make all those meals that he taught me how to cook, and It really makes me feel like i’m at home. I’ve never had a specific dish like that for hangover cures but pickle juice is something that my family has passed down and down. I find it awesome that yo got to have it again, but it also stinks that you can not have it out here. I hope maybe one day I will see this soup some time and get to try it, it sounds pretty cool.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kyle

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