When we first started hosting visitors at the mission, whether it was family, friends or Vision Trippers, I wanted to pull out all the stops and make the yummiest food that I could. I mean, it makes sense for someone that likes to cook, right? Well, I got lots of compliments, but I also got very little rest or time to enjoy our guests because I was always cooking. I realized that it was a better use of my time, and more enjoyable for me, to be making simpler meals and spending more quality time with our company. Now when I meal plan for guests, I stick to simple food, and things that don’t require a huge amount of time in the kitchen, but still provide a lot of bang for my buck, so to speak.
And you know what has been the funniest revelation of this journey?
People LOVE simple food! I think our “food culture” in North America has gotten us to the point where we feel like everything has to be gourmet this or that to have real value. I’m always amazed at the reactions I get when I dumb it down and go with something super basic. I think I’ve actually gotten more rave reviews when I do that than I do when I cook something more complicated.
One time last year we had a Vision Trip with four guys from Seattle (Hi!!). They were super fun because they all knew each other before they arrived and had this wonderful banter type relationship that they very openly shared with us. Every night we would spend several hours sitting around the table laughing until we were either crying or holding our sides. It felt so good! What was fun for me was their enthusiasm over the meals I made. Again, simple stuff that had them eating like teenage boys. One of the things I served was Sloppy Joe’s. Yup. And they LOVED it. And I was amazed. From that point on it’s been a staple meal on my visitor menu plan, and the comments are always, “I LOVE Sloppy Joe’s and I NEVER get to eat them! This is AWESOME!”
Again, I went to allrecipes.com for a good recipe and the one I found is the one I stuck with.
The only modification I make to this is omitting the cloves. I made it with the cloves the first time and didn’t like the flavor. Now I make it without and have never heard a complaint.
We are lucky to be very close to Montrouis, the bread capital of Haiti. At least everyone says the best bread is made in Montrouis, and I have to agree with them. I’ll run down to the street vendors a little earlier in the day and pick up fresh bread to serve this on and it’s delish. Any kind of roll or bun would work.
The other thing I like about this is it’s great for a crowd. You can double, triple or quadruple it and then just put the pot out with bread and some easy sides, like the coleslaw I posted a while back, and call it dinner. Everyone can serve themselves. Done and done!
Enjoy, and don’t be afraid to get messy!