Thursday, September 29, 2011

lost local nosh

I'll never forget baking Christmas cookies last year for hours on end....multiple days....multiple types of cookies....and being absolutely miserable about it...

I was about to pass out from dehydration in a massive Santiago Chile.
Chileans don't bake cookies and if you do find a cookie, think non chewy, bad quality bleuh!

Baking cookies isn't exactly a known Holiday custom in Chile for a's summer!
The last thing you are supposed to do is slave away in front of an oven....other reasons?   Ovens don't have an actual temperature gauge on them and most of them have to be lit from the inside with your head stuck inside with a lit match while it's filling with gas. (To my own astonishment at my own idiocy, I did this a lot!  There's no other way!)

You know what Chileans love to eat for Christmas?  FRUIT CAKE!  The entire month of December!
No kidding...massive quantities of the stuff...the joke product most Americans won't touch with a ten foot pole runs out of stock at grocery stores all over Chile come Christmas!  (I still can't really stand it, but I tried)

This is a mere example of the oddness which can occur trying to mix one cultures food with another.  A lot of foods in so many places are popular for certain holidays, festivals, seasons, for one major's locally grown, it's cheap, it's EASY!  These facts combined lead to a certain food becoming a tradition passed down by generations and next thing you know, some pour girl is slaving away over little rounds of dough on the 20th floor of a Santiago sky scraper!

My favorite of all parts of travel is discovering new foods in new places and eating what the locals eat!   Without these local traditions with special local ingredients...I would have no reason to want to travel!
a toothpaste tube of caviar and chocolate milk in Norway, the only things we could afford in the grocery store!
 Now being back in the States, I'm always looking for those new and exciting flavors I discovered else where as well...and when I do find them, I'm thrilled!  But it comes at a price.   I'm the odd one walking into asian grocery stores hunting down lemon grass, galanga leaves and receiving funny glares and stares.  I remember days in the lunch room at my old work with looks of "you are really eating that?" as I slurp down my homemade muss'man curry with Thai eggplants and chunks of bamboo shoot.  Things that are popular in one region of the world aren't so much in others for a reason....they aren't grown locally!

All of the Spanierds we know here in the States dream about legs of jamon (ham) knowing it's almost impossible to find here.  Chileans talk about lemon pie and pisco sours in a whisper, as both pisco and lemons are pricey here.  I know I would have sold plasma for just a crumb of aged Wisconsin Extra Sharp ten year cheddar while traveling....something I can find now as free tasting samples twice a week at the farmers market!

chewing on some fresh cane sugar plant on the border of Malawi and Zambia...given to me by a local who laughed at my inability to shuck/chew/spit my cane as I should have and had to help and show me how, to the great entertainment of onlookers

That's the drive that forced me to sweat thru batches of cookies in the middle of a hot day...longing for that certain taste and flavor that brings back such beautiful memories of places and people that have made me so happy!  It's amazing how food can transport you from one time and place to another and what we'll do and pay to recreate that experience! 

Do you have a certain food you long for from some other part of the world?
Do you have a favorite meal from your home town you tried to make somewhere else?
How'd that go for ya?


  1. Just tonight I went out for Vietnamese food. It's not so popular here in London but back home (Melbourne, Australia), it's a staple. I'd eat out, get take away or make pho at least every week. It's one of the things I miss most about home.

  2. The part of the California coast where we used to live grew artichokes. They were everywhere and cheap and delicious and so, so good.

  3. I went out for Vietnamese food too! So crazy. I just blogged about pho today too.

    Anyways, I love rice and beans for breakfast....ever since living in Central America I've learned to love rice and boring I know! Haha.

    Get Up & Go