After nearly 4 months away from you all, missing the familiar things in life, we are slowly adjusting to American life. Tristan finally convinced me that our study needed to be unpacked (there was a red couch in there - who knew?), the basement is becoming more man cave like every time I sneak a peak (he has set up the stereo, tv and other man contraptions that assist with man-nesting), and next weekend we will get to "celebrate" our first Halloween. Yes, life here is falling into place and American-isms are slowly invading our life.
A very important part of American culture is the national love affair with corn. This weekend Tristan and I submerged ourselves in corn - somewhat literally.
At home corn is a simple idea. It's a vegetable, usually yellow in colour, often bought frozen, and in our house, served frequently with peas and carrots. In America, corn is much much more complex. There is corn that you buy as a vegetable, though it is usually white, and is seemingly exclusively served as a BBQ food. There is corn that is better known as high fructose corn syrup that is used in EVERYTHING as a sweetener in lieu of sugar cane. Then there are the "foods" made of corn: corn bread, and candy corn. And lets not forget ethanol, corn flour, corn oil and corn starch. I've even drunk out of a plastic bottle made from corn by-products. And my personal favourite corn-ism - it is even in local toothpastes (not mine). Yes, corn is very important in America.
In America, once the mega machines have collected in finest corn harvest (and then collected the dregs for the first round of by-products), some enterprising farming individuals get creative and create mazes in their corn fields. Imagine enormous corn fields, 10 foot tall, being cut into patriotic pictures for the city folk to play in during October. Sounds like fun? You bet!
So a car full of Aussies piled into someone's big blue car (we all seem to own them) and drove for an hour or so, into the country to play in the corn maze. For the bargain price of $10 we got to play in two corn mazes, and as a bonus we could play in the corn pit (think sand pit, but filled with dried corn husks), the giant slide, go to the petting zoo, and catch the mini train-a-go-round. And to top it all off, there was a pumpkin patch so you could go with your family to choose your Halloween pumpkins. It was the family fun day paradise. Families seemingly came in with a picnic for the day and spent a quality day together. It was like a happy snap from a television movie - except that it was real! And fun.
We ran into the maze, split up, and raced each other for the end of each maze. It was a very dry season, so the corn stalks were mostly brown. Mixed with the dust of the field and the piecing blue of the sky, it was easy to get turned around. Lucky for us, there were clues spread around where you had to decipher very complex questions (how many time do you sing the word "happy" in Happy Birthday, and what is the last body part you touch when dancing to Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes) to be given the correct direction. It was such innocent fun, you couldn't help but smile. For the record, we won the second maze ;-)
Following the maze and an adventure in the pumpkin patch, we piled back into a big blue car to explore another American culture classic - one that Aussies pay pilgrimage to as well: BEER. Colorado is famous for it's micro-breweries. As luck had it, within 20 minutes drive of the family fun corn maze there were two micro-breweries for "us" to sample. One of the great things about the breweries is that they offer "tasting" plates. The boys, with their highly developed pallets, sampled selectively from the tasting plates and concluded the same thing: Aussie beer has more flavour.
After the boys enjoyed a plate plus a pint each at the first brewery, we moved onto the second brewery where we also got to indulge in the American cultural love of overloading a plate of food. I have learnt that all good meals should be served on a plate big enough for a lion to eat from - and come with a side of fries. At least it was tasty. Here the boys sampled some watermelon flavoured beer... and apparently it tasted good... maybe they sampled a little bit too much...
Yes, we sampled high American culture this weekend. While I'm sure Australia is guilty of all the same corn crimes, it sure is more in-your-face (and highly entertaining) here in the US. And while I have become a label demon, determined to avoid fructose, I do have to admit that playing in the corn was a lot of fun. As was the beer - or so I'm told.
Penni and Tristan