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Bailey Tries… International Birthday Treats

Yes, today is actually my birthday and in honor of turning 35, I decided to try some international birthday treats and traditions. Let me preface this by saying that I am very wary of saying these are actually traditions from these countries. As someone from South Mississippi, I am EXTREMELY cognizant of how the media enjoys taking some trivial experience and making it seem like a required custom in an area. I will never forget watching the episode of “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman” when they came to my hometown and the horror that unfolded. After the host explained that we live in my town the way we have for the last three hundred years, he proceeded to head to a very popular and delicious restaurant where he ate possum and raccoon which is apparently a delicacy here and we all love it.... I think NOT! So, in an effort to be correct, these are traditions according to Google NOT locals. I’ve picked a few fun treats to try, so let’s get started…

Breakfast: Fairy Bread (Australia)

I had to try fairy bread, not because it sounded delicious, but because Fairy Cakes are something that come up a lot on the British shows I watch and while I know this is a little different (and from Australia) it’s just so stinking cute! So what is Fairy Bread? Buttered bread with sprinkles on top. No, the actual components of this dish aren't nearly as exciting as they look but I’m also somebody who craves bread and butter from time to time so I didn’t mind it. It is a cute way to do a birthday breakfast and who doesn’t love sprinkles?

Lunch: Seaweed Soup (South Korea)

I knew I had to try this because I LOVE seaweed. Also, why don’t we do more savory birthday traditions in America? This soup has an interesting history according to several sites I found. Essentially, it was a traditional meal for a mother after giving birth so it is served as a birthday food to commemorate that tradition. All the recipes I found were basically the same and included broth, soy sauce, seaweed, beef, sesame oil and a few other spices. Be warned… if you order seaweed from Amazon, check the volume multiple times before rehydrating because I ended up with like four hundred pounds of seaweed. Luckily, I love it so I just made my soup extra seaweedy. It was delicious and I ate on it for days!

Dinner: Longevity Noodles (China)

It seems the recipe for these noodles vary based on family tradition and personal preference but the idea is that the long noodles represent a long and prosperous life. I’m not sure how traditional my recipe was but it was the one that included easily accessible ingredients and didn’t require me to buy a ton of stuff that wouldn’t be used in my household. Basically, imagine a zhoosh up bowl of ramen and that’s what I made. Once again, I love the concept of savory birthday food and this didn’t disappoint.

Dessert: Arroz con Leche (Mexico)

I’ve never had rice pudding but I love tapioca pudding and yogurt with grains so I figured this would have a similar texture. This time I decided to try a packaged option for convenience and curiosity sake. I figured they were more likely to get it correct that I was trying to make it myself. Also, I didn’t need a pot full of rice pudding at the end so I went with Senor Rico Rice Pudding from the grocery store and it was really yummy. I loved the texture and the flavors reminded me of chai tea which is one of my favs. It’s also not super sweet which is surprising because all the recipes I saw included a decent amount of sweetened condensed milk. Overall, this might have been my favorite birthday food.

Birthday traditions, whether cultural or familial, are fascinating to me because they give a beautiful insight into an area and people. While I didn’t always feel this way, I now believe birthdays...ALL birthdays, should be celebrated and enjoyed because life is a blessing...though I may still crawl under the table if you have them sing to me at a restaurant.


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