Posts Tagged ‘food’

This is a question that I ask on first dates. It’s probably the most important question- because it will shape the rest of the relationship as far as duration.

If they answer incorrectly, I know that there is no future of us living together- which usually takes off the pressure- because then I know.

“How is this the most important question?”

I’m glad you asked!

It’s a matter of real estate.

Imagine:

We’re living together. Late at night I get up with the munchies and want to make burnt toast with nut-butter. We like different kinds- so there are both kinds in the house. (Crunchy and smooth). Because it’s dark, I unknowingly pull the wrong one from the shelf and make my snack. I take my first bite and realize what I’ve done: I’ve unleashed the flood of disgust.

I let out a yell. You come running in to see what’s wrong, even though (bless) you have a big important interview the next morning.

But I don’t care. Your choice of nut-butter has tainted my mouth and ruined perfectly good burnt toast. I yell at you for your poor choices in nut-butter (as I’m totally irrational- and don’t realize that *I* am also a choice of yours) and then we argue. I’ll skip the drama, because in the end: you lose sleep, have a terrible interview the next morning, you resent me for resenting you and we break up.

(This may be hyperbolizing…. slightly. But only just.)

So- see? This question is WAY more important than the usual ones of “what religion are you?” And “have you ever killed a person?”. Who cares about those questions? This one saves a lot of time, future heart-break and deposit money.

Trust me. The nut-butter question is the most important.

(Followed by pulpy/pulp-free orange juice).

For the record:

Creamy is the correct answer. I prefer cashew, hazelnut or macadamia nut butter. Almond butter is a staple when I’m back home. Peanut butter is only consumed when I’m traveling internationally via long bus rides.

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I haven’t really felt inspired to write a Zombie-survival page for every country/place that I’ve been in. Panama was difficult because I was mostly in Panama City or Colon. Portabello was amazing because that’s where a lot of Captain Henry Morgan battles were fought and I got my PADI certification while diving amongst his sunken ships!

I digress.

Colombia was amazing. I spent over a month in Colombia and it wasn’t enough. A place that all the cable news stations warn us about to never venture out to, I loved every single minute. I swore that all the citizens of Colombia had a meeting where they agreed to treat every foreigner as if they were royalty because their reputation is kinda crappy. Everyone agreed and they set off to find any foreigner… Throwing them gifts and tokens of appreciation and love. There is a new tourist slogan about Colombia where they say “the only risk is that you won’t want to leave”. And this is true.  For some reason, though, I think the amazing hospitality and the kindness of people would slowly go away once they all became zombies.

Medellin (58/70) was a city where I cried, constantly, because of the beauty of that city… However, the only safe place to hole up in would be Arvi, a natural park where you have to ride a gondola (Metro-cable-car) up to it. Even then- you’d have to go through the swarms of Medellin-citizen-zombies just to get there and then hope/pray that there is electricity that is powering the metro.

Location: 8/10 (in between a lot of mountains, but lots and lots of people…)

Water: 9/10 (delicious tap water!)

Lodging: 9/10 (brick/concrete houses all over. Plenty to squat in.)

Food: 9/10 PAISA!!!! GO HERE JUST TO EAT BANDEJA PAISA!

Costco equivilent: 4/10 – while there are no super-stores that I could find, there are markets… however, those markets will be managed by Zombies….

Non-dead dangers: It did rain a lot while I was there, which means mosquitos later. But overall, I didn’t meet any weird-looking dogs or snakes or scorpions or anything else that was deadly while I was here. 9/10

Locals: there is still a lot of crime in Medellin, apparently. I didn’t witness any, but everyone told me that there was still some sketchy areas. Which means, of course, that there are guns! and lots of them! So you’ll have a huge arsenal — if you can find them. Also, if you meet locals who are Colombian, they will welcome you into their home and you’ll instantly be family. 🙂 Always a nice feeling. 10/10

Bogota (60/70) is like a Latin NYC but with the weather of Seattle. It’s higher up in altitude so it remains temperate all year around. Walking around a city is one of my favorite things to do of all time- so this was perfect for me. Some hills, a lot of random little shops, lots of posters to gawk at. It was lovely. However, Bogota has well over 7 million people- making it NOT any kind of ideal place for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Location: It’s high up in the mountains. The weather is temperate year around. It rains a lot, but this means great for growing crops. 8/10

Water: delicious tap water– also lots of natural springs! (9/10)

Lodging: Tons of great housing. Very well constructed. Just the problem with very close neighbors. 8/10

Food: The food can vary. The restaurants vary all over the board- but they won’t be around after everyone is zombies (or they will only be serving brains). I did spend a great deal of time just eating the various fruits that were in the supermarket. (one day I picked up 15 different fruits and tried a variety of them). All were different and pleasant. There were no chickens or pigs to be found, though– not sure where the farms are. Also- it should be noted that you can get ANYTHING delivered in Bogota. Anything. We tried this with beer and pharmacy drugs. (#winning) 9/10

Costco equivalent: While there were no huge “super stores” that sell everything (and you certainly can’t just buy guns like you could in the states) there are tons of security guards on every corner “guarding” something and holding semi-automatics. Finding weapons won’t be a problem, but finding enough ammo may be. Finding other stuff isn’t a real big problem- but you just need to go to several stores to find them. (7/10

Non-dead dangers: The only big thing here is dugs. Which raises a great question: What would a coked-up zombie be like? Would he run faster? Would he even bother running after you at all? I should add this to my [good questions] blog page. 9/10

Locals: Again- the most awesome and hospitable people on the face of the earth. Full of life (and would probably even love being zombies). They would definitely be the most fashionable ones that I’ve found. 10/10

Cartagena (49/70) is probably the “most safe” because it has an “old city” that was once used as a fort against the Spanish during the gold-war days. However, it’s hot. I’m not just saying it’s warm…. I mean it’s sweltering. Shade is going to be your best friend (along with the delicious juices- be forewarned- all your generator power will go towards the blender to make juice.)

Location- you have the beach and the old city wall. You could probably hole up in the old city, but there isn’t much going on there except for really old buildings that have withheld the test of time. (9/10)

Water: some potable water– but it may turn sketchy after the apocalypse…. unknown. There is plenty to swim in, though! 7/10

Lodging: Lots and lots and lots of really old (beautiful) buildings! (10/10)

Food: they don’t grow a lot THERE– they ship it in. So getting food may be a problem for later. 6/10

Costco Equivilent: again, no super store. No super-market, either. A lot of little mom/pop stores. 3/10

Non-dead dangers: the currents in the ocean CAN be quite high. Also, the UV rays can hurt you something fierce if you aren’t wearing sunscreen. (Mental note: Add sunscreen to my zombie survival kit!) 7/10

Locals: The locals were lovely here– but I prefer them in other parts of Colombia. It should be noted that this is a tourist destination and I didn’t have a chance to meet “the real locals” who weren’t trying to sell me something. 7/10

Santa Marta (53/70) is lovely- but more lovely was Tayrona, a national park located just east of Santa Marta. It’s glorious to go hiking, rent a hammock, lounge at the post-card-looking beaches. Is there a lot of food? Not really… There is plenty of fish and fruit- but nothing else, really. Are there a lot of people? Just tourists. In my opinion, this is where you would go to vacation during the Zombie Apocalypse. Especially at Tayrona. No zombie wants to go hiking through the jungle and the beach would be isolated enough that would make you relax a little during the terrible times ahead.

Location: secluded and off the beaten path. Beautiful beaches. Especially Tayrona. A lot of places you can only access via boat or long hikes. 10/10

Water: everywhere! You have to buy filtered/bottled water here… so bring some iodine or a steripen! 7/10

Lodging: Plenty of old buildings in the “old city” that you could hole up in. There are also really cute bungalows on the cliffs that you could squat in. No AC (and you would need fans at least) 8/10

Food: Lots and lots of fish! some fruit that is grown locally/a little ways away. But not a lot. Agriculture could probably happen in Tyrona after the apocalypse, though. 8/10

Costco: nope. None. No big stores what-so-ever. 4/10

non-dead-dangers: jelly fish was a scare for a day as were the currents. Our legs were also eaten alive by mosquitos and sand-fleas (note: put baby-oil on your legs to avoid getting bitten by sand fleas!)- but other than that- it’s a beacher’s paradise. 7/10

Locals: the locals were lovely. Kinda and amazing people– even for a touristy destination. 9/10

Barranquilla (61/70) was special in it’s own way. I went there and stayed with a couch-surfer (now a great friend) for 4 days. It was also the very beginning of Carnival, which is the 2nd biggest Carnival in the world after Rio. The first night was my first experience of Colombians and how passionate they are about life. Laughing, singing, dancing, drinking, offering everything and anything they have to total strangers. (Again, the amazing hospitality). Carnival was unique- so I shouldn’t grade an entire city based on it’s crazy/amazing festival. I will note, though, that if you want to have a great time right before Ash Wednesday– go to Barranquilla. Book ahead. Just go, laugh, have a great time. Go to the beach after you close down some bars. Dance your ass off. Be silly. Drink aquadiente (and cringe… because it’s foul) and then drink some more. Enjoy your time in Colombia.

Location: It’s kinda like Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s very concrete and sprally and massive. It’s a sport to drive here. Not a lot of parks, but plenty of places to hole up in and hide out– you’re also close to a beach if you need to get away. 9/10

Water: lots of potable water and you’re close enough to a beach to get away. During the rainy season/months it rains a lot and the streets are flooded. (forwarning) 8/10

Lodging: LOTS of concrete/safe buildings to hole up in. Lots of places to hide. 10/10

Food: The food is decent. I had a lot of standard dishes that I enjoyed. You can get some awesome seafood here as well as some produce. I’m not sure where the produce comes from- so again, it may be imported. 8/10

Costco- *edit*- They have Pricemart! 😀 I haven’t been there- but it exists. I doubt you can buy ammo- but you can probably buy everything else. 7/10

Non-dead dangers: The only “scary” thing about this town is the local’s kidneys and their driving….which leads me to…. 9/10

Locals: Amazing locals. The best, actually. It may have just been the people that I stayed with- but I was constantly and pleasantly surprised by how amazing these people are. Their culture is just oozing out of them and you can’t help but be happy and feel welcome and immersed in their lives. 10/10

So there ya go…. That’s Colombia. I will be back (this time I’ll actually know Spanish). *note: the Colombians speak the best spanish in all of Latin America. So if you want to take lessons- do it here and learn it properly. I did not follow this advice because I’m stupid. So I’ll continue to speak Spanish like a 2-yr-old.

I think I’m in love with Nicaragua. The people, the atmosphere, the climate, the culture…. The sheer niceness of people just blows me away. Things that people do- when they don’t have to. I mean, why help the fluffy-haired gringa? When would that ever be a good thing to do?

I was reminded of this story from my college days where I sublet a room the summer. I needed a desk, so I bought one off craigslist, wheeled it down Boylston Ave and then it started raining… I ran faster with it, breaking off a wheel. When I got close to the apartment, I yelled out to my new roommates to help me, but they didn’t budge. Just sat on the stoop smoking cigarettes. I found out later that “where they come from” they –WERE- helping me by moving. (That is “helping” where they come from).

In Nicaragua I have had quite the opposite experience and I want to share my day yesterday:

I woke up early and, like every morning for a while, I went running around 7:30am. I ran up the mountain for about 20-25 minutes, then down. On the way down the mountain, I stumbled and fell right outside this pulperia (shop). Some old men saw me and rushed over to make sure I was ok. After I assured them I was fine, they offered me some coffee (that they, no doubt, grew/harvested/dried/ground themselves…. The best kind, IMO). I declined because I still had a mile or so to go.

Later that day, my friend Elyna and I left. We decided to hitch-hike from Jinotega to Sabaco. We stuck out our thumb and instantly a guy in a blue truck stopped. He told us he could only take us down 15K. We agreed anyway and hopped in the back. (note: the bus takes 2 hours to go 45km… so it’s better to hitch).  After a really fast ride, we hopped out and stuck out our thumbs again and got a semi-truck to stop. He opened up the back and we rode in the back of an empty semi-truck for the rest of the way.

Once we arrived in Sabaco, we ate (an amazing plate of chicken, rice, potatoes, plantains and a drink for 2.50$USD) we found a bus to take us to Esteli. That’s when we looked at a map and figured out that Esteli is NO WHERE NEAR Leon (where we both wanted to go. Elyna was trying to go north anyway, so she got on another bus to go north (to Honduras) and I hitched back down to San Isidro.

I should note: My Spanish is elementary at best. I can half communicate with a 3 yr-old, which I’ll talk about later.

So when I was hitching, this guy kept saying “ares moy mimosa” (it wasn’t until later that I figured out he was calling me beautiful (Eres muy Hermosa)… stupid accents). I just giggled and made faces or rode in silence. 30 minutes later, we arrived and he dropped me off at the bus station. I tried to pay him some money (for letting me ride in the cab and dealing with my piss-poor Spanish, but he wouldn’t even consider it. He told me to hurry (well, ok.. he just talked really fast and pointed) and I got on a bus where I sat next to a girl holding a chicken and took out my knitting needles and continued to knit my much-needed-belt. All these kids stared at me… in awe. I was, hands down, the most entertaining thing on the bus. I kept pointing to things outside (cows, chickens, goats, horses) and saying stuff like “el perro va woof!” and they would say “no! bow bow”.  “El Vaca va mooooooo!” and the kid would go “mawwww”. It was downright adorable/entertaining for all.

 

Why am I telling you all this?

Because most of the world things of third world countries as dangerous. They think that all these people living in “poverty” are crooks, criminals, thieves, rapists, murderers, or some other negative and awful words. I have found the complete opposite. In the states, we have a very “dog eat dog” mentality. In Central America (especially in Nicaragua) they do things that are kind. Simple things mean more to these people than anything else.

Also, fun fact, Nicaragua is considered the 2nd safest country in the western hemisphere (next to Canada.)

I have been on 2 farms in the past 2 weeks and here is what I have done:

1)   I am a fan of hitchhiking as I have done it a lot lately. I also really like riding in the back of trucks with 300+ lbs of beans/rice/corn/whatever.

2)   The first farm I was on was an all-organic farm about 8K from the bus stop. Hiking that in the dark was a little scary, but the stars (and lack of light at all) made the journey well worth it! The mist over that farm, when it was raining, was out of this world beautiful. Seeing clouds swallow mountains is breath taking!

3)   This farm was also off the electrical grid. As cool as the bio-digestor (goggle it!) is, it doesn’t keep a flame all that well and very constantly. Most of my meals had to be cooked over a wood flame (I now kick ass at starting fires… but keeping them going is another story). My machete accuracy is also improving, as I had to chop all my own firewood. However, I got sick of just eating beans and rice with no spices.  Also, it became more and more difficult to cook food as all the wood was wet (from the days and days of constant rain). Finally (after 6 days of not talking to a single person, a lot of reading and a lot of arguments with myself) a girl (Elyna) showed up! I quickly realized that I was a little miserable at that farm. She suggested that we leave– so we did!

4)   We both arrived at “The Biosphere” (another organic farm), but it’s more of a family who all lives and grows and eats here. The energy (if you believe in that sort of thing) is excellent and I feel cozy! (Read: I don’t feel like I’m in a 3rd world country). The other night we watched Princess Bride while eating popcorn. The only thing that was missing was hot-cocoa (which we’ll make tonight once we get more dolce) out of hand-picked cocao. They have a kitten who sleeps on my bed every night which makes me miss my whore, but having a decent kitchen/volunteer facilities makes it worth it. They also have a duck who likes to “run laps” on the roof at 5:30am. (I think she’s practicing her take off and landings.) I’ll be here for the 21st (they’re having a big festival for the end of the world) and then I’ll move on to Leon w/ Elyna (if we’re all still here).

——————————————————

Here is are some of the random things that I have learned:

1)   If you cut a log/branch for firewood (with a machete), stand the branch up and hack at an angle, turn the branch, hack again, turn the branch, hack again… (Rinse and repeat until you get some grooves/wedges and/or can snap it.)

2)   Fried green bananas are pretty damn tasty. Also, there are about a thousand different varieties of bananas. I really like the small super-sweet ones. J I wonder if I’ll ever eat Dole bananas again.

3)   To milk a goat or a cow, you use the same technique; it’s just that one utter is bigger than the other.

4)   You don’t need baking soda/powder for tortillas. In fact, I prefer it without.

5)   Malanga is probably the best food I’ve eaten here so far. It’s a root that grows in swampy-areas with big full “cow-hoof” leaves. It tastes like a buttered potato, slightly sweeter and a more creamy texture. If it weren’t so high in carbs I would eat it with every meal.

6)   The mountains of Nicaragua are breath taking! Especially after it rains and you are high up in the cloud.

7)   With all the different places I’ve been working at, I’m slowly, but surely, keeping a list of what I like/dislike in Bosses, management styles, what kind of team I like to work with, what kind of work I excel at vs what is difficult for me, how I would lead a team/project differently, how to be more efficient, etc. This isn’t really interesting to anyone BUT me, but I thought I would mention it as this is something I’ve spent a great deal of time figuring out lately.

Guatemala has been an experience. Here are some things I have learned:

1) People here are dirt-poor. But happy. The only thing I miss is decent water pressure. I used to miss hot showers, but I don’t even miss that as much anymore.
2) I have seen 2 scenes of shootings. (Drug-cartel people got shot in their taxi). The blood coming from the scene was a little unreal.
3) Kids are not spoiled here. They are quite happy playing with bits of string or rocks or twigs or candy wrappers they find. I don’t know why they don’t go to school right now—no one has been able to explain that to me.
4) My Spanish has improved! (“Ayudar! Estoy Peridido! Donde esta Pollolandia en Flores?”)
5) “Pollolandia” is probably some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life. Not really sure if they have EVER changed out their oil, but I don’t care. The skin isn’t breaded, but more crispy than perfectly cooked bacon. The meat itself is so tender and moist and flavorful that it almost tastes like chicken-flavored butter that just melts in your mouth. Pollolandia is a great reason (alone) to come to Guatemala.
6) Another reason is that you can get any prescription drug here over the counter. You just need to know what to ask for (in espanol). Viagra? Oxytocin? Steroids? All no problem. Benedryl, on the other hand, is harder to find.

Oh! Speaking of my Spanish improving, here’s a great story:
I was sent on a quest for beer and other groceries. Armed with a bike and a bookbag, I set out towards the little shop that I knew of. I get there with my list of groceries (flour, oil, butter, beer.) I got all the stuff but the beer, which they didn’t sell at that location. So I went towards town searching for beer….

Couldn’t find a single bar/beer-looking place that was open. Finally, I saw a woman on “her stoop” (a concrete slab outside her door) making/selling empanadas. (this is common and they are usually amazing. For 12 USD cents you get a meal. (#bargain). So I went over to her. I said “Hola! Yo Quiero Kaveza.”
She looked at me weirdly….
So I did what my dad told me to do: Mimic. So I mimed opening a can, drinking it, then acting drunk. She said “oh! Cerveza! (pronounced Ser-bez-ah).”
“SI SI!”
so she got a beer, gave me some empanadas and told me to sit down. We made very (muy) small talk. I asked her “Yo Quiero mas Cerveza para me casa.” She asked me how many more… I said “doce?” she said “ocho frio.” I said “si.” And took those. 40Q (5$) later, I walked out with 8 cold beers and rode back home.
Hell yes. 😀
(for the record, Bravha beer is better than Natty Boh, but not by much.)

What was your favorite second language experience?

Tortillas

Posted: November 18, 2012 in TRAVEL
Tags: , , ,

In Belize, I was told that once you know how to make tortillas, you are ready to marry.

(Fun fact, most couples don’t marry in Belize. They have kids and a family– but a marriage certificate/ceremony means nothing.)

This is also a staple in our diet down here. I think I had tortillas with every meal- including snacks. Before I left, I made a dozen– because (as Brooks said) “Tortillas save lives!” and she’s right. You never know when you’ll get hungry or meet a cute boy that you want to share your lunch with along the way. 😉

With that said- I learned how to make tortillas. Here are the steps– in LN-ize.

Step 1: pour a crap ton of flour on a big wooden surface. shake the wooden surface/bowl so the flour lays flat.

step 2: lightly sprinkle baking powder so it reaches all the edges.
Step 3: add salt– to your liking. i like mine a little saltier– but some people only add a pinch. I add about 4 pinches.

step 4: add a TINY bit of oil…. just drizzle it… the consistency should be (when you mix it with the flour) crumbly– but not ball-forming.

step 5: start adding water and working it into dough.

(it’ll be sticky… keep adding water until you get a ball that is “elasticy”. I tend to think “if i can make a swan- it’s good to go”)

Step 6: start kneeding. just turn on music and kneed. you’ll be kneeding for about 10-15 min.

Step 7: Once you’re done, make little balls. I do this the Brooks’ way by pinching off a ball and rolling it.


Step 8: After you’re done, cover it with a shirt and let sit for about 10-15 min.

Step 9: turn on a pan over high-heat. Let it heat up a bit.

Step 10: Roll out the balls with a rolling pin/beer bottle.

Step 11: take the tortilla and put into the hot pan.

Like a pancake, it’ll get bubbles on the top and not stick to the bottom of the pan. When this happens, flip it using a chop-stick or whatever.

Step 12: take it out of the pan- and rinse and repeat! 🙂

(note: the rolling/cooking process goes really quickly once it gets going!)

Before I went to Grub I was at the beach where I got my very first Bee sting! (I’m excited because I, somehow, managed to go 30 years without having one. Btw, I’m not allergic! Good to know.)

 

I was expecting to swell and puff up and be in pain (I did step on it, afterall), but I’m pretty sure the food at Grub has healing powers because not only did I not feel any pain on my foot/sting-spot, but I also got fed something so delicious I decided to write about it.

 

What got ordered:

-homemade ginger-ale (the most perfect balance of ginger and soda ever. Not too sweet and not too puckery.)

-Hot Chick’s Mac – Chicken that is marinated in wing-sauce and then mixed in with delicious mac and cheese, red onion, gorgonzola with Panko bread crumbs on top. The texture of the cheese was super interesting and the chicken was the right amount of hot that just made you warm from the inside and fill your heart with good vibes.

-Apple, “crack” bacon” quesadilla – Spinach tortilla filled with thin slices of apples, soft bacon and cheese, all folded up and grilled to perfection (so the quesadilla was crispy but everything inside was softer). I thought this was a weird concept until I tasted it and (again- the textures!) were perfect.

-Tomato soup – my comfort food is grilled cheese and tomato soup. When we paired this with the quesadilla and soup– it was even more mind-blowing. The soup was “lick-the-bowl” good. Not served overly-hot and had bits of cheese in it for added enjoyment.

-Cookies! (they are 1$ each. Chocolate chip cookies rolled in potato chips. We had to order them to go because we had Book of Mormon tickets– but ate them after the show. A great sweet/salty mix that is worth having. 🙂

 

Overall- it was one of the best meals I’ve had in LA (and that’s saying a lot).  I’m also certain that the mac and cheese has healing powers.