Editor’s Desk


Procrastination and Liechtenstein

It never fails. No matter how hard I try to make sure the kids are prepared and have their tasks done, no matter how much I nag, remind and cajole, someone always “forgets” something. If it’s not forgetting, it’s an example of the fine art of procrastination.

Sunday morning, I asked my freshman son if he had any homework to finish up. It’s been a busy week of deer hunting and Thanksgiving gatherings. I was praying he’d say no, because I had a lot of work to do myself. Not only did he not say no, he pulled out an assignment that of course he needed help with: His health teacher assigned him to make some obscure recipe called “ribel” from Liechtenstein.

Not only had I never heard of ribel, but it sounded complicated and I was positive I wouldn’t have the needed ingredients on hand. We looked up the recipe and my heart sank. While interesting, it sounded annoying and time-consuming to make. And every recipe we found used the metric system.

Ribel is a traditional Liechtensteiner dish, that was a staple breakfast food for the poor, made from cornmeal cooked in boiling water and milk. Once cooked, it’s roasted with butter. Its flavor is described as savory and salty, and it’s often served with a fruit sauce or compote. Since he had to make a Liechtensteiner delight, I figured we might as well learn about the little country.

Liechtenstein, the fourth-smallest country in Europe and the sixth-smallest country in the world, is situated in the center of the Alps between Switzerland and Austria. With a total area of 62 square miles, it’s roughly the geographic size of Washington, DC with a population of 39,000. Its official language is German, though its people speak two Alemannic dialects in daily life.

Liechtenstein is comprised of 11 municipalities and is a constitutional hereditary monarchy. The Head of State is Prince Hans-Adam II, although his son, Hereditary Prince Alois, represents him; he shares power with a democratically elected Parliament.

The country is known as a financial and business hub, with 30 large companies employing around 8,000 workers. Another 30,000 people work in foreign branches of companies based in Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein is very mountainous with most people living in the Rhine River Valley. It features cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and rain. Summers are cool to moderately warm, though often cloudy and humid. Outdoor activities such as downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking and mountain biking are popular. Small villages sprinkle the breathtaking scenery, connected by winding roads and trails.

I wished I was sipping coffee in a Liechtenstein chalet overlooking alpine mountains and valleys. It sounded relaxing.

I’m all for kids learning about other cultures, countries and recipes. We also had fun learning about Liechtenstein; I’d actually love to visit there someday. But I was not in the mood to battle holiday crowds at the store to find ingredients and spend hours concocting a cornmeal porridge that required boiling, resting, roasting and converting metric measurements. I wondered if the teacher was spending her Sunday on a holiday weekend making cornmeal porridge. I figured not.

But being a negative Nancy doesn’t get us anywhere, so we buckled down and made the cornmeal porridge from Liechtenstein, which wasn’t half bad. Not my favorite, but it was edible. And now we have another destination to add to our bucket list.


November 30, 2021