Reading New Caledonia: The Long Reprieve

Getting to know New Caledonia has been an incredibly gratifying experience. I so appreciate learning about a place that is entirely new to me; the land, the history, what people are currently dealing with…it’s all exciting, and humbling. What a world we live in – and there’s so much that we as individuals don’t know, even if we feel like we are seeking knowledge all of the time. The whole point of this blog has been to gain a better sense of this planet we all call home, and to be a better global citizen. Success on the first point, and always working on the second…

There’s so much to talk about! I’m still reading a book by Kanak author and activist, Déwé Gorodé, so that review will be a deeper dive into the issues her work highlights: the history of French rule, and the current-day complexities that brings to life on the islands, especially for the Kanak people.

But first – another cool thing! In a different way!
I found a book through my library that just blew me away; The Long Reprieve, and Other Poems from New Caledonia, by Hubert Creekmore.

The author was stationed on New Caledonia during World War II, when the US Navy had a base on the island. He wrote about the war, his perceptions of the landscape that he was experiencing, his interactions with the local people,and…a lot more. Mr. Creekmore was from a prominent Mississippi family, but his disdain for much of what that entailed is clear. He is blunt about racism,hypocrisy, and alienation. His clarity was probably influenced by the fact that he was a gay man from the American South, at a time when that was not in any way going to be accepted, or even acknowledged.

I really encourage you to check out this book, and journey with me in exploring his other work; he was also a novelist, and tackled the above subjects in much greater depth (at least from what I can tell from reviews). The culture that he sprang from did not see fit to celebrate his talents, but we can help reclaim that legacy; he deserves the acknowledgment.

 

Araucaria columnaris, native, L'Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia
Araucaria columnaris, native, L’Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia (image by my LifeShow from Paris, France)

Cooking Albania: Tavë Kosi

I’m not a food blogger. I like to eat, and I’m good at that, but writing about eating is a whole different skill set. A skill set I have not worked very hard at developing. And don’t get me started on food photography. I’m not even a beginner at beginning to learn that…

Also, food blogs often irritate me (that’s a whole other post), and kill my motivation to write. So, I’m way behind on a very fun and worthwhile side of this project.  I’d love to say that I’ve turned some kind of corner, but who knows…the proof is in the blog posts, right? Onward and upwards.

Albania! You have REALLY GOOD food!

For those of you who haven’t been introduced, please meet your new favorite comfort food: Tavë Kosi. Simple, but rich, it has all the flavors you want during the colder months. I’ve been making this on the regular for quite some time now and it’s a favorite in my house; I was notified recently that after Peasant’s Cabbage and Bacon from Poland, this is my spouse’s top pick from this blog adventure.

Tavë kosi

Adapted from a recipe at BBC Food

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2lb boned lamb shoulder, cut into 2in cubes ( I use beef, actually. Don’t tell anyone)
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4.5 tbsp long-grain rice, rinsed
  • 3.5 tbsp plain flour
  • 2.5 cups Greek-style yogurt
  • 4 eggs, beaten ( I used 5 this time. Why not?)
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to finish
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Country #44: New Caledonia

I am so excited about my next destination! I hate to admit how unaware I was about New Caledonia’s place in the world – as in, I literally had no idea where it was – but now I do know, and I’m thrilled to learn as much as I can.

I already have quite a few books lined up and ready to go, so I’m diving right in.

Nice to meet you, New Caledonia!

 

Reading Ukraine: Borderland by Anna Reid

What a world we live in. So much we don’t know…but we can try to learn. Books are one of the best weapons in the battle to gain knowledge, especially something like Borderland, my selection for reading about Ukraine. Written by Anna Reid, a British journalist with work and family ties to the country, it’s an informative, well-researched, and very readable dive into the history and politics of a darkly complicated part of the world. It’s perhaps not the most in-depth resource out there but it’s an approachable one, and that’s a win when it comes to a place buried in tangled webs.

Written in 1997, it goes without saying that much has transpired since but after absorbing this book, you’re in a good spot to find out what’s happened next. Bonus for Americans: it’ll give you insight into the shenanigans of Paul Manafort and some other folks currently under investigation, and of Putin’s motives; it won’t make you feel any better, but at least you’ll have a solid framework of understanding…

View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine
View of Carpathian National Park from Hoverla. Carpathian National Park, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, Ukraine (Image by Balkhovitin via Wikimedia Commons)