Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tropical Creatures in the Kitchen

Delight in the gorgeous moth and the droppings she leaves on the wall...
In the tropics, it is mere moments in the absence of humans before the creatures take their place.

Wash your dishes right after dinner, wipe the counters and throw away the ends of carrots, the shells of eggs and the skins of onions, but even when you think you've put things away, the creatures will find the remains. (If you're wondering why i don't compost, let's just say that housekeepers here can be so thorough that they sweep the actual dirt in the garden, thus wiping away your efforts to toss egg shells and onion skins around the banana trees that so love mulch.)

Ants will devour the tiniest piece of chicken you left discarded on the floor, forming that writhing black ant-circle that shows you weren't very careful cleaning up.

As soon as you leave the room, the stray cats who think they live in your house will topple over your garbage can, poking around for scraps and spreading out the offal of your day, so you're reminded of it all again. In the corners where you stash said can, spiders lurk.

Off-green lizards make squeaking sounds as they aim toward their bug-prey on the walls.

In short, you are never alone as you manage to make your first lasagna in Nicaragua, even with funny-tasting cheese and meat you don't think you'll ever quite like. The creatures wait as you finish up making what is so far your greatest triumph on a Nicaraguan cookstove -- the simple, always-good chicken noodle soup. With chicken so abundant and carrots one of the only veggies to be found without fail, chicken noodle soup is always ready to be made.

Other veggies, not so much. Broccoli comes and goes, zucchini is occasional, kale is non-
existent and beets can be found -- though they're often soft and sad.

It is possible to feed your child healthy food through abundant fruits, eggs and chicken -- if you can somehow manage to avoid the excess of carbs that Nicaraguans like so much. When our housekeeper was still cooking for us, it was not uncommon to have a double-carb meal; rice with noodles, rice with bread, and not a vegetable in sight... That, in addition to my exhaustion at having to explain what i wanted with my bad Spanish and having to shop more regularly than i wanted, caused me to nix having someone else cook for us.

But every day i learn to ferret out what i can, to find recipes i can actually cook and that my kiddo will actually like. The past two nights, with soup and lasagna, i've actually even gotten a "thank you" at the end of the meal. Miracle! Now if only the creatures would say please and thank you and clean up after themselves in a similar way...


For tips on getting your kids to eat healthier, check out this ebook, offering a free download through January 17!

And o, how i'd love to have quality cookware like this titanium set, instead of the crazy hodgepodge of Teflon stuff we cook on here in Nica!


Jack said...

Ah, memories of Guam and Southeast Asia. If you can train your mind to see them as pets (and the predators as minions), it may make them easier to take. They're going to be there, whether you find a way to accept them or not. Best of luck. Someday, you'll look back with fondness...

Nico said...

They're not too difficult to deal with -- besides the stray cats who knock over the trash!