Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cooking in Colombia

To begin with, I want to apologize for being in so many of the pictures. For some odd reason, David, who is the photographer in our family, likes to take pictures of me.

Cooking here in Colombia is interesting. Rule #1: Fresh is always cheaper than canned or frozen. Note Exhibit A below. A 12-ounce can of Hunt's tomato paste costs $4.65, at today's exchange rate.  A 14-ounce can of canned tomatoes costs about $3.50.  The equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes costs about $.70

So I walk a few blocks to the twice-weekly vegetable market, the Placita Movil.  David and I are easy to spot among the maids, who know a lot more about the produce than I do.
Or if we can't wait for the market, the Harris-Teeter of Bogota, Carrulla, has several stores within walking distance.  Shopping really is fairly civilized here, although you may not recognize some of the produce.
Rule #2:  It takes longer to cook dinner.  Luckily, I like to cook, and cooking keeps me warm in our always chilly apartment.  An easy way to change all those fresh tomatoes into spaghetti sauce is to slice them in half, then grate the tomatoes.  No chopping or peeling involved.  The lovely tomato pulp is in the bowl, and the skin is left in your hand.  Simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.

Rule #3:  Sometime you can't get there from here, so go local.  Our inventive and crazed Chilean Elder Serey was going home, and wanted an American Thanksgiving dinner.  I found turkey at Carrulla, made rolls and mashed potatoes, and a tropical fruit salad (OK, not traditionally American, but delicious anyway.)  But what about homemake Cranberry sauce, a must-have at every Henderson Thanksgiving table for years?  Well, we do have Mora berries, somewhat related to blackberries and raspberries, but not as sweet, and they thicken on their own like cranberries.  The Mora berry sauce was delicious.
What to drink?  Refer to rule #1.  Fresh limónada is cheap, about $.80 for two quarts, including the sugar. Note the industrial-strength juicer bought at 7 de Agosto, a crazy local market. It makes quick work of limes (no lemons here) for limónada.
Fresh squeezed orange juice is cheaper than bought, although it is a fair amount of work to save $1.00. We buy it bagged.
In short, although the kitchen is small, and lacks a dishwasher and garbage disposal, which I always considered essential to civilized living, I am grateful for what we do have.  An oven, unlimited hot water, enough cookware to meet our needs, a washer and dryer (which double as handy counter space) and the resources to enjoy this lovely and strange country.  We are content.

Paula & Dave

1 comment:

Teri Boulter said...

Just got back from the Super Walmart and I must admit, it is not nearly as fun as shopping in Colombia! Faster, yes...but not as fun!!