Cooking and eating through a new culture

Foreign vs. Familiar Food

Sheesh. Where have I been?

It has been oddly hectic here. Meals have been fast and furious. Weekends a blur. I was banging out a Salvadoran Pepper stew the other day and realized it was just a regular Northern stew, you guessed it, with peppers. I actually omitted the peppers, added parsley, a splash of red wine, and thickened it with a little rue. After Rafa devoured it, we retreated to the couch to watch bad tv while he rubbed his food baby and it hit me, I’ve been here about six months. Funny how time flies? It’s still amazing to think back to everything that has happened, that crazy wild plunge into the unknown. My Spanish is still woefully lacking. I can rock out a damn good gallo pinto like any Tica now. I don’t freak out as much over the array of critters that scamper around the house. Although, the geckos still delight in popping out in the most unexpected places, like on the back of one of my cookbooks.

For the most part, living here is like living on another planet. Some things are comfortingly familiar, but all in all, you really have no fucking idea what will happen next and that is how I pretty much view everything.

It’s the rainy season now and my days are dictated by the flow of afternoon showers. Automercado is at least 2k away, and I need to time my walk as not to be caught in the deluge. I have been very lucky. One afternoon, I happened to look up over my shoulder and see this amazing cloud creeping up behind me. It was a stunning tower of billowing white, edged in the golden light of the sun. “What a beautiful cloud!” I said as the first ripple of thunder caught my ear. I double timed it back to the house. I barely had my bags on the table when the sky blackened and erupted in a torrent of rain. Lightening ripped the air and shook the house. I could smell the ozone. Of course the electricity went out.

I have learned to handle the earthquakes with aplomb, even napping through a 6.0 and only rising to make sure the tv didn’t tip over. Earthquakes do have a tendency of shaking lose a shit load of dust and debris and they always hit just after I cleaned.

I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest, in the shadow of some serious volcanos, through 22 straight days of rain, and a good size earthquake, so all of this feels rather familiar. Granted, it’s so much warmer here and I am easily able to sate my growing mango addiction. I may be a mountain range way from salt water, but the PNW has the best seafood. By far. Even by East coast standards. I have had Dungeness crab binges and woke up still smelling of butter with crab shell in my hair. Those were good times…

As much as I have adapted to my environment, many things still have stayed the same, especially my cooking. I will thumb through volumes of Latin recipes, yet end up making homemade mac n’cheese, or to the sheer delight of Rafa, fresh, hand packed hamburgers. In the farmers market, I still gravitate towards the more known varieties of vegetables. Although, I will eat all the crazy fruit I can get my hands on. Guanábana is my new favorite even though it looks like some crazy dragon egg. I am still oven-less but there is a light at the end of the kitchen! The new 220 line, with fancy new breaker box, was just installed and now I am just waiting for the electric company to hook us onto the grid. Hopefully we can squeeze them in between the lightning strikes.

Funny thing is: the first dish I am aching to make is lasagna.

Guanabana or dragon egg?


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