Sunday, January 25, 2009

Feeding kids overseas

Imagine…no jars of spaghetti sauce, no salsa, no peanut butter, no apples, no tortillas. Butter tastes funny, yogurt tastes funny, cheese tastes funny. Kitchen has no freezer, fridge too small for a half-gallon of milk. The Salsa de Tomate (literally “tomato sauce”) is actually ketchup.

All cold cereals are packed with sugar, so much that Rosie couldn’t even finish a bowl of corn flakes yesterday morning. And those were the ones advertising whole grains on the package! Not the Tony-the-Tiger Frosted Flakes kind.

On the flip side, milk comes in boxes that sit on the shelf until needed. All the mangoes, papayas, and strawberries you can eat. Great skewers of grilled chicken, beef, and sausage down the block. Most restaurants serve white rice. (The kids have stopped asking for soy sauce.)

Put on your walking shoes to go get food. Fruit stands are on one side of the street market five blocks down, vegetables on the other. Milk at the grocery store across town. Bread on the way home at the bakery. Flour, corn, oil, salt, candy, soda, gum on nearly every block in a tiny storefront.

Major bright spots this week: found Ramen on a dusty top shelf at the grocery store. And..drum roll, please…while perusing a range of spices hanging in tiny bags, I came across “Pasta de Mani” with a drawing of a familiar nut on the front. Turns out you CAN buy peanut butter here, it’s just sold 3 oz at a time as a seasoning for “Asian and other foreign dishes.” Lives in an envelope on the wall next to the oregano and cinnamon. And they’re not “cacahautes” like in Mexico, they’re “mani” in these parts.

Check out the economics of this: ramen costs 30-50 cents a package. That’s the first thing I’ve run into that costs more here than in the US. It’s hard to imagine how people make it, with the minimum wage $200/mo and 45% underemployment. Lots of produce and local food, hardly anything that comes in a package, I guess. There must be lots of households spending 50-75% of their income on food. - KD


Kathie said...

Hi fellow Hood Riverites. My name is Kathie Alley and my aunt is living about 15 minutes from you in Ecuador. I emailed her your blog address and she said to tell you if there is anything she can do to help, please call her. She grew up in Parkdale, but has lived down there for awhile. Her name is Rose Merz Cyrus and her phone # is 088129805. Thanks for all the pictures and info, I'd love to go visit RoseAnne sometime. Hope all is well, Kathie

Juliana said...

Hi from Green Valley, Arizona,
I'm following your blog with interest and finally decided to officially register. Recently I read the book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" by John Perkins and wonder if you have also. Have you seen any of the consequences environmental problems associated with U.S. corporation development there? Sounds like quite an adventure and a wonderful experience for your girls.
All for now, Juliana

Amy said...

It is such a pleasure to follow your adventures and snippets of your new life and surroundings. Thanks for doing such a great job sharing! Take care, Amy

Tove said...

its cool you found peanut butter and ramen! a little taste of home! have fun!


Nancy P. said...

Wow. I just found out that you are in Ecuador. I leave for Quito on 2/3 and arrive on 2/4. Just finished listing to John Perkin's book on CD. I will be in Ecuador until 3/3. Going to Galapagos and then traveling with Pachamama to rain forest, Kapawi Lodge, visiting the Achuar tribe, Puyo, etc. Where are you living? Is there a way to contact you.

Kay said...

Whoah - I get all that food stuff. Funky cheese (I loved it but was the only one) and milk in the unrefrigerated cartons with cereal of a sort. And the vegetarian thing threw an extra wrench in it for us. I'm with ya - good luck with the shopping and cooking!!

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