October 30, 2007

Karmel was already taken

KramelsKramels - is this a typo?

Hey, I'm easily amused so when I took some photos of a few things in or from the grocery store, I thought I would share them with you.

I got a kick out of these Kramel candies. They are from Costa Rica or Colombia, I can't remember which. My thought was that the name Karmel was already taken, not that anything like a trademark or registered name usually stops Central American companies. We have a Home Depot in San Pedro (no, not the real thing) and an Office Depot in La Ceiba (no, not the real thing, although there are real Office Depots in the larger cities).

Campbell's soupWe used to see maybe two or three varieties of Campbell's soup and now look at this display! We hardly ever eat canned soup but I use it in cooking every once in awhile. Check out those prices, though. At L.47.80 per can (US $2.53), I could go out for a chicken dinner and beverage for less. Surely soup can't be near that expensive now in the U.S., can it? I think I still have some in my pantry for which I paid around L.28 (US $1.48) and I thought that was very high.

Wild riceMy heart stopped when I saw this wild rice. I've been looking for wild rice for 6 years. Then I saw the price and my jaw dropped. L.162 and change for a 4 oz. box, which very likely is rancid or off-flavored anyway. Add the 12% tax that I think would be charged since it is imported rice and that equals US $9.66! I remember wild rice being expensive but isn't that price outrageous? I couldn't bring myself to buy it, but I still think about it a lot. Heheheh.

If I was sure of the quality, I would splurge, but I've just bought too many things that were sent to Central America for a reason, if you know what I mean. So I settled for the brown rice instead (which was also a first in my 6-year Honduran shopping experience). Thinking about it some more, I may just have to go back and get that wild rice. I could just add a tablespoon or two at a time to the brown rice for flavor. I'm having almost as much trouble deciding on the rice as I am deciding on a new computer! What an indecisive idiot I am!

frozen foodWhen we first moved here in 2001, there wasn't much of a selection in La Ceiba of frozen convenience foods except for French fries, chicken nuggets, and refried beans. We are seeing more and more, but man! take a close look at those boxes. They look as if someone fished them out of a dumpster somewhere. I would bet $1,000 (US!) that these foods have been thawed and refrozen on more than one occasion. It is no wonder that many Hondurans look down on convenience foods when they see things like this. I wouldn't buy them.

I took a chance on this Guatemalan "Feta" cheese. Nope, mistake, never again. It was grainy and crumbled into sand-sized pieces. It sort of had a Feta flavor if you could get past the 50% salt-50% cheese composition. I even soaked the cheese in water to try to wash away some of the salt. Yes, I know Feta is salty, but you had to taste this to believe it. Yeeech!

orange orangesMy jaw dropped again when I saw these oranges! What is going on here? If you live in Honduras, or maybe anywhere in Central America, you know that we don't see oranges like this. I'm wondering if they were imported from Florida! Could it be? Why on earth would it be when we grow oranges in Honduras? If you don't know what I'm talking about, the photo below shows what our oranges usually look like.

green orangesA strange thing (a sign of assimilation?) is that the orange oranges looked very artificial to me and I just felt like the green ones would taste better. I wrote an article called Why are oranges orange? if you'd like to know why our oranges are green and yours are orange. Just remember that perfect and pretty isn't always better.

tomatoesThese perfect and pretty tomatoes were fabulous, though. We found these huge, beautiful tomatoes at the vegetable market a week ago. Generally, we see only small Roma-type plum tomatoes and another smallish one that has the normal tomato shape.

I saved some seeds from these beauties to try to grow some, but they were probably hybrids. We asked the name but, of course, it was tomate manzana (apple tomato). I say 'of course' because every variety of fruit or vegetable that is largish and roundish is called apple-something: apple mango, apple pepper, apple melon, apple banana and so on. Oh well, I'll try the seeds anyway and add them to my long list of failures.

I saw these tomatoes and instantly thought: BLT! I haven't had a BLT in 6 or 7 years. Not that I couldn't have. I just haven't thought about it but these tomatoes inspired me. I used these thick, juicy slabs and crunchy toasted homemade bread slathered with Helman's mayo. OMG! The sandwiches were fabulous. El Jefe thought a sandwich of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sounded weird but he was suitably impressed.

Panamanian peppersA few questions for my Panamanian readers: Are these really Panamanian chiles? Are they called Panamanian chiles in Panama? Are they hot? I grew some accidental wild peppers that looked very much like these except they were a little flatter. They weren't hot at all, but had an unusual and not very pleasant flavor. I'm sure the wild pepper wasn't the same thing. By the way, that price works out to US $1.35 per pound.

Speaking of vegetables, an article in La Prensa yesterday reported that 80% of the vegetables and legumes consumed in Honduras come from Guatemala and Costa Rica. I find that just incredible. Wages may be less in Guatemala but I'm sure they are higher in Costa Rica, not to mention the cost of transportation and importation.

Quotes from importers and distributors stated that the Honduran vegetables cost more AND were of a poorer quality. Actually, the term used was "mala calidad" (bad quality). I don't understand what is wrong! This is an agricultural country!

Some of the reasons given by one expert was that Honduras needs more investment and advancement in agricultural technology, but investment won't come because of "a lack of liberty, justice and security in Honduras." The government was also blamed for not offering instruction and training in agricultural techniques now being used in Guatemala and other countries. The government is also promoting transgenics but that is a whole 'nother story and definitely not being done to help the farmer.

Quality and corruption − those could be the two biggest problems in Honduras.

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