Saturday, June 14, 2008

What’s for dinner, mom?

Now normally, the question of beef or chicken for dinner doesn’t bring a grown woman to her knees, but throw in a new culture, new shops, and. . .well. . .it’s a question liable to strike fear rivaling parachuting into a snake pit or swimming with Jaws.

My second day here I walked to the market near our house--a long, narrow row of tiny, outdoor shops selling everything from clothing to batteries, and ground peanuts to cooking oil. The choices, to be quite honest, are nothing compared to your local Wal-Mart.

On the food aisle, you have a limited range of things like spaghetti, tomato paste, beef bullion, garlic and onions, sugar, rice, corn meal, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, along with a couple dozen other basics.

But don’t let that scare you off. Not yet anyway.

In town, I found a quaint shop ran by someone Scott had met on one of his last trips. It’s two aisles of everything from cereals, to spices, to cheeses, to meats. More choices. Not bad. And now that I’d found a source of meat, we could eat something beyond cabbage, and rice for supper.

Of course, there still are a few drawbacks. Not only is a quick trip through the local drive-in out of the question, without a refrigerator, meal selection is limited even further. Take a look at your favorite cookbook and find the recipes that call for dishes that don’t include anything pre-packaged, frozen, baked, or refrigerated. Typically, you’ll be left with a menu of boiled eggs and popcorn.

Still, even without a kitchen, meals have become fairly routine. Breakfast is fruit, cold cereal with powdered milk (temporary thankfully), and bread. On days we have time, I might make pancakes or waffles with homemade maple syrup. (Jayden above)

For lunch, it’s sandwiches and fruit. There are a couple great bakeries here that make wonderful Portuguese rolls. A stock of peanut butter (available here) and jelly works great.

Dinner is typically rice with chicken and a sauce. Maybe some potatoes and curried cabbage--trust me, it’s fantastic. Spaghetti is also an easy option, especially now that I’ve found ground beef in town.

Despite the drawbacks, I have to say it’s really not been that bad. We have an unlimited supply of pineapples--the best you’ve ever tasted--coconuts, cashews, fresh fish and prawns.

So next time you hear that heart-pounding question--“What’s for dinner, Mom?”--go on out and enjoy your Happy Meal. I just might be sitting along the Indian Ocean dining a fresh pineapple and prawns.



My (temporary) kitchen


  1. Such a unique cabinet arrangement. When and how will your temporary kitchen become permanent? Boy, we Americans take our comforts for granted! Bless you for going and taking the word, despite hardships and discomfort! And writing, too!

  2. Woo, Lisa! Glad to hear your papers came through...

    You know, if you get some of that tomato paste, I use that as a base for some fabulous beef stew... I toss the meat with flour, brown it in the pot with a little oil. Once that's done, I fill with hot water and add tomato paste, stir up and cook...add veggies, salt to taste. Yum!! Simple cooking is great. Probably more than you wanted to know! :) I seem to remember winter is on its way for you there? :)