Eating three and a half plates of spinach in East Germany


Dear Ezra and Lian,

If you read my crazy travelling stories, you are going to hear about me eating weird things. It all started in East Germany. That’s the first foreign country I ever visited. I went there before even going to the US.

I had the privilege of travelling to East Germany in July, 1989. This is 2 months before the Berlin Wall fell down and the country re-joined with West Germany. At the time, nobody there could see it happening. I was with a group of teenagers from Simcoe Country, Ontario. I think there was 7 kids and 1 leader. We were attending a youth conference in a small village.

Now East Germans were quite poor living in a communist country. When one of the teachers from West Germany brought bananas for everyone, it was a big deal. The hundred or so kids and staff all got half a banana. That usually only happened at Christmas. There was genuine excitement. So when it came to meal time, us Canadians always tried to eat everything put on our plate. Except for one time.

Our lunch consisted of a pork, potatoes and a big heaping pile of spinach. Now your great-grandma used to call me the Human Garbage Can because I could eat lots of almost anything. So I finished my plate easily. That’s when I noticed the 5 girls in the group having a lot of trouble with the spinach. I was horrified that they weren’t going to eat it all. I didn’t want to offend our hosts or let them think we wasted food. (I was also the poorest kid in the group.) So I ate another big helping of spinach. Then another. One of the girls finished all of hers. I had two more to go. However, Tasha Honey, had put a LOT of salt all over her spinach. I started eating it, but it was terrible. I tried mixing it with the other plate of spinach. I couldn’t do it. I was like Popeye, full of spinach. There was still one and half helpings of leftover spinach. In the end, though, nobody was offended.

I’m not really all that much of a food adventurer. However, I will go to great lengths not to offend people, to make people feel appreciated, to accept their gifts of food, especially if given with great sacrifice. I don’t go seeking exotic dishes, but sometimes strange things get put on my plate. Sometimes eating a meal has saved many people’s lives, so I swallowed real hard and ate it.

I’m also really grateful that you two eat spinach almost every day.