Sunday, September 30, 2012

food and happiness

it's funny how living in the developing world can change what you get excited about. what is your favorite food that you love to eat all the time?  what do you think you could do without if it came down to it and what would be considered a necessity at all costs? i was passing through estelĂ­, a city in the north of nicaragua, and decided to stop at La Colonia- a really nice grocery store here in nicaragua that just opened a location right near the boots place.

i walked in and felt like i had entered heaven. huge displays of cheddar cheese. bacon. apples and other imported goods. it was almost overwhelming!  so many choices! so many things i miss! (like sharp  cheeses and wine!) i could have easily spent my entire month's salary buying such indulgences; however, my main goal was to find two things- peanut butter and parmesan cheese.  not like real parmesan, but the kraft kind that can last like 8 years on the shelf without anything happening to it. i found a massive, costco sized container for about $10... a fairly significant amount of my budget considering i only make just over $200 a month. next, i hunted for the most important of all- crunchy peanut butter.  i found a gloriously pound sized jar of jif peanut butter and rejoiced! another $10+ out of my budget though.

peanut butter is one of those funny things that i think many americans crave when out of the country for an extended period of time. i'm not sure why, but many of my friends here talk about the importance of having some peanut butter on hand at any given moment, regardless of the expense it levies on us. i remember my aunt and uncle in spain always wanting my grandpa to bring big jars of peanut butter over when he went to visit them because they couldn't find it here.  it's something about the taste of home i guess. something comfortable. nicas tell me they miss gallo pinto after a while. i think everyone has some kind of food that we associate with "home" and "comfortable."

food makes me happy, so i'm willing to cut out eating out once or twice in the month to cover the cost of items like peanut butter and parmesan cheese. granted there are many other things i would love to buy, but i could probably easily spend my entire month's budget just on cheddar cheese if i wanted.  so i've had to prioritize, at least a little. i walked through the grocery store with my hands above my head, a pound of peanut butter in one hand and a pound of parmesan cheese in the other, rejoicing at having found a few things that help me make this life here seem a little more like home.  my friends thought i was ridiculous, but i think it's worth it. i spend a little more on food at times than i'd like, but it means i'm much happier at the end of the day as well.

so what would your favorite food or item in your diet be that you'd keep? i bet it'd be different than what you might think at the moment.  i thought i would miss the "luxury" or "higher-class" things much more than something silly. living here has forced me to prioritize what i find to be most important, and i never thought i would get excited about kraft parmesan cheese or crunchy peanut butter. it's just that sometimes when things couldn't seem worse because of x with work, y with culture shock, or z for being frustrated without any sort of words to describe why, just eating something familiar can make all the difference in another wise terrible day. at least for me anyways.

so to close, all of that to say:
dear mom- please send peanut butter. ;)

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