“I was the third-best cook in the Timorese armed resistance!” President Taur Matan Ruak declared to a multinational crowd assembled at the official residence of Timor-Leste's head of state on March 14.
At the event, the President and First Lady Isabel Ferreira presented traditional Timorese cuisine, including a nutritious stew made of ingredients found in the country's mountainous jungles from which the resistance had operated for 24 years, along with tales of how to locate and prepare some occasionally lethal (but delicious) plants. My husband Greg and I had the privilege of introducing guests to the culinary delights of Thanksgiving, with a turkey and all the trimmings and a pumpkin crumble cake. After watching a spirited demonstration of how to make traditional American stuffing and receiving do-it-yourself-stuffing kits, guests loaded their plates with the best of the two nations' cuisines.
Timor-Leste celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, and bid farewell to international peacekeeping forces ten weeks ago. As we combine efforts to support Timor-Leste's peace- and state-building priorities, our culinary exchange was a wonderful celebration of the permanent partnership between the United States and Timor-Leste.