On Monday night I found myself standing in a parking lot with two South Africans talking about milk and bread. I know this sounds like the most boring topic in the world, but as it turns out it was not.
As we stood there talking in front of Giant and Kevin asked, “Is that longlife milk?”.
Eric looked at him and replied, “All milk here is longlife.”
Kevin looked at him with a mixture of amazement and confusion. Eric then looked at me and began to explain that in South Africa they only had regular milk and longlife milk. Regular milk would last a few days, but longlife milk was made to last a bit longer.
“Oh,” I said, “Yeah all milk here lasts for about a week or so.”
Eric then started talking about the types of bread that they have in South Africa (white and brown), and how they now have a type of bread that looks like white bread, but has all the benefits of brown bread. I explained to Kevin that I get free bread from church that is nearly expired, and even that lasts a whole week – as opposed to South African bread which only lasts a few days if properly stored.
We talked for a while and I began to tell Kevin about all the different types of bread we have in the states: wheat, rye, white, oat nut, honey whole wheat, etc… (It was quite entertaining to listen Kevin’s response after I listed all the types of bread). On this note Eric told us a story about the first time he walked into Giant to buy milk and bread, and how overwhelmed he was by the options (for both bread and milk). We all laughed at the thought of Eric’s confusion, as we pictured him standing there unable to figure out what to buy.
It was a beautiful time of conversation and story telling, and got me thinking about two things:
1. We all have things to learn: During our conversation I learned a lot more about South African culture while Eric and Kevin both had things to learn about America. Not only did we all have stuff to learn about food, but we had stuff to learn about each other, and we had stories to share that the others might learn from.
2. We take things for granted too easily here in America: It is so easy to forget that here we have so much offered to, and prepared for, us. We have more than much of the world can even imagine, and we take it for granted. We let our milk and bread go bad. We throw food out, and we spend money on things we don’t need.
Now, as I reflect back on this conversation I long to find ways to both learn what I do not know, and remember the things I fail to take notice of.
*We also made Biltong (and by we I mean Eric) that night – which was the reason we were shopping – but that is another story waiting to be told.*