January 31, 2008

We want what we want when we want it

Mexican potatoes with peppers and onionsLa Gringa's 'Mexican' potatoes, no problems finding these ingredients

I was inspired to write this article after reading Grocery List by my friend Billie in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Billie is a wonderful person (I can just tell from reading her Billieblog) and an excellent cook (ditto) and photographer. She wrote an article about the grocery things that she can't find in Mexico after receiving a question from a reader − the little things that are important to her and her husband and sometimes necessary for a certain recipe.

Everyone has those things that they miss or need for a recipe, at least upon occasion. That's why ethnic markets pop up in the states wherever the ethnic population is large enough to support them. We might love the food where we are but we all want our own stuff once in awhile! There's nothing wrong with that and it's true for every culture.

Turkey frittata with mushrooms and peppersI read several Mexican expatriate blogs and being not such a wonderful person as Billie and quite often gripey about the food and grocery items available here in Honduras, I am usually a little jealous of the stores and selections that I read about in many parts of Mexico.

Well, guess what? Nah-nah-nah! I was amazed to discover that we have some of the things in La Ceiba that Billie can't find in expatriate-laden San Miguel. Her article really surprised me and made me stop and think that I really am grateful for the improvement in the variety of products in La Ceiba in the past six years.

I left a comment for Billie (trying not to gloat too much over the availability of dried cherries in La Ceiba), and as I was writing, another thought struck me:

"One thing nice about living here is when can you remember ever having a happy day in the US because you found chicken broth or Kosher dill pickles in the store? We learn to appreciate the little things, don't we?"

I know that I tend to be too negative and I really, really try to work on that. Part of the problem is my culture! Don't all U.S. Americans want what they want, when they want, at a price they like, and served promptly with a smile? Sure we do. Ask anyone from another country. ;-)

Chinese food with chicken, broccoli, and snow peasBesides, as I've said in the past, the blogicito is a place where I can get these negative thoughts out of my system and subject you poor readers to them instead of El Jefe. And I have an inkling that some of you expats like to read my rants so that you don't have to write them on your blogs or because you like to know that you aren't alone. ;-D

I'll never be as nice and calm and accepting a person as Billie. You should know, however, that I have mellowed by about 50%, but I'll never be Honduran-mellow, I'm sure of that. Anyway, I'm going to try to be a better person and look at the bright side more. I hope you don't get bored.

P.S: I'm still not there yet! This is an article that I drafted a few weeks ago.

P.S.S: Just to keep it real: Two days ago there was no sugar available in the stores here in La Ceiba, Honduras, a sugar-producing country!

Photos: 'Mexican' potatoes sautéed in olive oil with chunks of chiles (peppers) and onions, seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika,
minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. I cook these on the stove or in the oven, depending upon what the main course is.

'Italian' frittata: Cubed browned potatoes, peppers, mushrooms (twice a year find in La Ceiba), onions, and left-over turkey sautéed and then cooked in an omelet base, finished off with a sprinkle of cheese melted in the oven. You can put anything in a frittata and they are great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

'Chinese' food: Stir fried chunks of chicken, broccoli, snow peas, carrots, peppers, and
onions, seasoned with soy sauce, Hoisin sauce, Chinese 5-spice powder (brought from the U.S.), served over rice. Here again, this is a dish you can make with whatever meat or veggies you have available.

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