Thursday, February 7, 2008

No Bugs or Monkey Brains

Now that I know that I have other readers besides my mother, and that many of you are reading this blog because you are interested in life in Africa, well...I need to give my public what they want.

So. I went grocery shopping today, and below are pictures and comments of a few of my purchases. Many people assume that missionaries in Africa eat grubs and monkey brains. Well...maybe they do in some places. And actually, even HOPAC kids will pull flying termites out of the air and pop them in their mouths at times.

But anyway. The staples here are beans, rice, lentils, stews, fish, beef, chicken, and a mashed potato type dish that is made out of corn flour (ugali). Oh, and fried chicken and french fries. Not too strange.

When we first moved to Dar in 2001, there was only one "real" grocery store (in a city of 4 million) and it was the size of a 7-11. Now there are big grocery stores that even sell meat in the little styrofoam trays. I buy food from lots of different places--from a couple different stores, from the local market, from Tanzanian friends. Here are some samples below.

I try to get all my veggies from nearby shops, because the grocery stores don't really have nice produce. I LOVE the produce here. I hated tomatoes until I came to live in Tanzania. The carrots here do have to be peeled and cut up (imagine that!), but they are so sweet that they make American carrots seem tasteless. If any of you have grown your own produce--that's what it tastes like here. All of these veggies are sitting in bleach water. Anything that cannot be peeled or cooked gets soaked in bleach water. All of these veggies (plus 2 pounds of onions and 2 pounds of carrots) cost about $3.50.

The most common way to buy juice and milk (unless you buy powdered milk). Neither has to be refrigerated until it is opened.

This is the cereal that Grace eats daily (imported from the UK). It is very healthy but practically tasteless. All other cereals cost about $10 a box, so that's out of the question. Every week I bake banana bread, pumpkin bread, muffins or bagels for breakfast for Gil and I.

Butter and cheese imported from New Zealand. The cheese is cut and sold in chunks. However, more and more local Tanzanian dairy products are appearing on the shelves these days.

The last time we were in the States, I was struck by how white the eggs are. And how clean. They almost looked fake. I usually buy eggs, flour, sugar, rice, etc. at the little market near our house. Sometimes if I buy eggs and flour at once, the seller will put the eggs into the flour as padding. Otherwise they are just carefully put into a plastic bag.

Homemade tortillas. The one kind of food we miss the most is Mexican, so we try to make do. I used to make my own tortillas from scratch--they did NOT look like this picture, and they never turned out that great. Finally one of the missionaries taught a Tanzanian lady how to make them, and she sells them to the teachers every Thursday. Very exciting. They are almost authentically Mexican.

Locally made cassava chips. Made from cassava root (similar to a potato) and fried up like potato chips. Mmmm.... very yummy. I bought lots today because we are hosting a good-bye party on Saturday.

"Splurges." The can of refried beans cost about $5. (Sometimes I do make my own refried beans but they just aren't the same.) The Pringles cost about $2.50 and the small bag of chips (individual size) was about 55 cents (and those were on sale because they are near expiration).

I cook much more from scratch here than I ever did in the States. And I enjoy it. But there are some nights when I really wish for a frozen pizza...or a rice pilaf mix...or a Taco Bell. But most of the time, I don't mind.
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