This post goes out to my Grandma Marge. It is hard being apart, but the daily lesson of "appreciate the small stuff" is never lost on me, and there is lots of joy in the Peace Corps experience that I want to share with her.
Food is definitely a joyful part of life - whether for the novelty, simple satisfaction of hunger, or the sheer taste of something delicious. Something Grams always likes to ask me is, "What's the food like there?", so in the spirit of celebrating the small stuff, and answering her question, I've thrown together some pictures.
This was an on-the-spot idea, so the dishes are mostly from special occasions when I thought to take pictures and not really representative of what local folks typically eat nor what I typically eat - notably missing are eggs (scrambled or fried), boiled potatoes, and boiled herbs. But you'll get a general idea!
Potato paches with white bread and a hot pineapple drink! Paches are typically served for birthdays (like on the above occasion) or other special events such as good-bye or welcome parties. Paches always have a big chunk of chicken inside, typically slaughtered that day.
Churrasco (steak), refried beans, rice, green onion, and tamalito (boiled corn dough wrapped in a leaf). Refried beans and rice are a staple in my diet, as are tamalitos, which my family makes every day. To avoid offense, I will make a good-faith effort to eat churrasco when it's given to me at events, but I still consider myself vegetarian. (That will be another post for another day!)
These are chuchitos ("little dogs") made of blue corn dough with a filling of chicken and pepper sauce. Often served on the Sabbath.
This is a typical dish my family would make for lunch or dinner: pasta with tomato, onion, and chicken feet for flavoring. This is not one I have been adventurous enough to try!
It's the corn harvest, and so a few weeks ago we boiled corn-on-the-cob (elote) and had a wonderful snack with everyone from the muni (kind of like town hall). Being from central New York, I felt right at home.
A desperation lunch made of my mish-mash leftovers: broccoli, chow mein noodles, pancake.
This is an amazing vegetable curry with whole grain rice. This is a beloved recipe I learned from a JICA (Japanese) volunteer in my site. We can get a great variety of vegetables on market day in my site: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, and of course onion, tomato, potato, plus many others.
I've been battling a sinus infection all this weekend, and happened to have half a pineapple left, so it occurred to me that would be a great lunch yesterday. There is tons of tropical fruit available here from Guatemala's coastal plantations. I also had a little brown rice left over and figured some whole grain couldn't hurt, either.
Lasagna is a favorite of my host dad's from when he was an immigrant in the United States, and the family asked if we could make it sometime. We went all out with real mozzarella and ricotta cheese from Xela. It was reallly good.
I love love love macaroni and cheese, because it is one of my mom's special home-made dishes. She always serves it with apple sauce and some sort of green veggie, so when apple season came around, I invited my host family to make mac and cheese and fresh apple sauce together. Delicious!
There are several birthday cake shops in my town. It was admittedly nice to have a US-style cake on my birthday! (At a cost of about $9.)
Apple crisp! (Well, sort of, it kind of ended up more like apple cake. But it was delicious, and it got the stamp of approval from my little host siblings!) I try not to bake too much, though, 'cause it drains the gas tank like crazy.
And finally, a very special treat - this is my favorite dish from a great Indian restaurant in Xela! I didn't expect to find Indian food in Guatemala, but Xela is quite cosmopolitan when you get down to it, to the luck of Peace Corps volunteers, tourists, and adventurously-palated people everywhere. It's a great change-up after weeks of the same food in site.
I count myself lucky to live in such a place of abundance, keeping in mind that there are many who are not able to take full advantage of that abundance as I am. Gotta be thankful for each meal!