United states of America – Hawaii

America starts with an A.  Okay, I’m aware that America is not the real name of my country, it is the United states of America. Which I realize starts with a U instead of an A, and that I said I would be cooking Azerbaijan next.  However I am going to take a detour and do some food from the United States.  Its my blog, so I get to do what I want.

The United States is bordered by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Mexico and Canada.

map_united_states_america_wannadive_world_dive_atlas

The United States emerged from 13 British colonies.  The dispute with Britain and the colonies caused the revolutionary war and America’s independence.  The United States started to expand through North America adding states slowly through the 19th century.  United states is now comprised of 50 states and 5 major territories.

American cuisine is highly influenced by the immigrant population, while the eating habits are from England.  The dishes that are traditional American like apple pie, hot dogs, pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, burritos, and tacos are all adaptations of recipes from immigrants.

Some interesting facts about the US :

  • US is the third largest country by total area.
  • The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
  • The holiday of Thanksgiving was actually started during the Civil War to bring the country together.
  • During prohibition the government poisoned beer, which lead to thousands of deaths.
  • The word “sideburn” is named after Civil War General Ambrose Burnside.
  • US is the third most populist country with over 320 million people.
  • 1 out of 8 Americans have been employed by McDonalds at some point in their life.
  • In Montana, cows out number people 3 to 1.
  • Though most people speak English, America doesn’t have an official National language.
  • 100 acres of pizza is served in the US daily.
  • There is a town in Michigan called “Hell”.
  • The only place in America where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.
  • The US is a top producer of corn, soy beans, rice, and wheat.
  • Kentucky has the largest cave system in the world.

As I am an American I am familiar with the food, so not sure how to tackle this country.  Part of my enjoyment of this blog is the adventure of discovering about the different countries and their cuisine and not sure how it would work with a country and food I am so familiar with.  A friend of mine suggested that I do this regionally.  As I read about American food, I’m excited to explore where the food I am familiar with came from.  Here is the regional cuisine I plan to tackle:

  • Cajun
  • Californian
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • Floribbean
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Lowcountry
  • Midwest
  • Native American
  • New England
  • New Mexican
  • New York city
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Philadelphia
  • Puerto Rican
  • Rocky mountain
  • Soul food
  • Southern
  • Tex-Mex

I pick Hawaiian food first.  I grew up in Hawaii and I miss the food since I have moved to the mainland.  After college I lived with a group of people from Hawaii and we would make Hawaiian Thanksgiving every year.  I recently picked the tradition back up and make Hawaiian food once a year for my friends.

As I celebrate turning 40 and my diagnosis of cancer parties and celebration are more important to me, I want to live; and I feel alive when I’m surrounded by my friends and family.  So having some friends join me at an appointment with my breast surgeon made the process a ton less scary.

The nurse who notified me that I have cancer recommended a surgeon.  She is a bit of a younger surgeon, but the nurse explained that she is very popular amongst younger patients.  She of course gave me a list of other surgeons but this is who I made my first appointment with.

My two friends Amanda and Tina agree to go with me to this appointment.   Tina had done some research on what to ask a surgeon.  We reviewed the list on our way to the surgeon.  I felt nervous and tentative, so very thankful for my two friends joining me and the distraction of what to ask.  The surgeon was young, in that she seemed only a few years older than me. Before we got into our questions she explained what the different surgery options for me where; basically a lumpectomy and mastectomy.

The lumpectomy is just the removal of the lump.  It is the least surgically invasive of the two options, and thus the one that has been recommended.  The mastectomy is a bit more dramatic as it will require reconstruction.  In the past if you had breast cancer this would be recommended, but with modern science it is now a choice vs a requirement.  The part that is appealing with reconstruction is I could get a free boob job!  Something I have always wanted.

There are 2 tests that she is recommending that I do, before I decide on the type of surgery.  The first is a BRAC genetic test. BRAC is a gene that makes breast cancer much more likely.  If I have this then the mastectomy is a better option.  I don’t have a lot of history of cancer in my family let alone breast canacer, but I’m very young to be having cancer, so it may be a possibility.  The other test is an MRI.  They want to do more imaging of the breast to see if there is more cancer than the lump I felt.  This will give a better image of the tumor and help her surgical plan before cutting.

As I have always wanted a boob job, she recommends that I also talk to a reconstruction doctor (plastic surgeon).  They will be better able to explain the reconstruction options with a mastectomy.  She gives me a list of doctors that do reconstruction, because this isn’t just any old plastic surgery.

She also went over my biopsy results and explains that we can’t do staging of the cancer until after the surgery.  This is because the stages are based on how much the cancer has spread in your body and size of the tumor which can’t be seen until I am cut open.

At the end of the meeting. I am much more informed and really like my breast surgeon.  I have no idea if she is good at cutting people open and putting them back tother, but I like her and honestly have no experience in judging that.  She is smart, thoughtful, easy to talk to, and  listens.  She also put up with my friends’ questions and didn’t mind that through the meeting that we made jokes and joined us in our laughs.  I was so thankful to have my friends there, it was comforting to have familiar faces and I just didn’t feel alone.  There were parts that were fun and it felt a bit like I was playing hooky with my friends.

People are surprised that I am not in a ball crying my eyes out.  I could easily go down that path if I allow myself to.  Cancer is scary, complicated, and deadly.  However I don’t think crying will solve a lot.  So I am just doing what I know how to do.  I’m not focusing on the worst or the best case scenario.  I am just focusing on small things that I can digest and take action on. Right now that is to do the tests and get the information to make a choice on surgery.

In between my doctor appointments I am answering the question, “What would you do if this is the last few moments on Earth?”  For me the answer is to celebrate which is adventures, being with friends, food, dancing, and laughing.  There are plenty of moments when it is just me and my dog and I can cry.  However when I am with my friends I feel strength and want to laugh.  I truly feel blessed in a situation where I should feel cursed.  So what better thing to do than through a party than celebrate with some Hawaiian food!

The Hawaiian islands are made up of many islands with 8 major islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Hawaiianislandchain_USGS

The Hawaiian islands were united into a single kingdom for the first time in 1810 by King Kamehameha I.  The kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup d’etat in 1893 and eventually resulted in the annexation to the United States.  Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.

Hawaii is the only state made entirely of islands and is not in the Americas.  So the food is very different than the things that are found on the mainland.  It is a fusion of Asian, Hawaiian, other Polynesian cultures, Portuguese, and western foods.  The dishes I have decided to make are:

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