Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm in Liberia!

While it's possible to eat from a supermarket here if one's tastes go towards $15 per box cheerios and $7.50 bags of M & Ms (I spent a long time staring at those before leaving them behind), I'm cheap.

Fortunately I can eat out a lot for a good price. Well, I can eat out for a very expensive price, but what I'm finding is that I would much rather pay $2 for cook shop Liberian food than $20 for western food such as chicken quesadillas (they're actually only $9 or so I think, but most things are quite expensive). There's a fellow in the office with a hookup of a nearby woman who will even deliver, so some days that's perfect (though, if I'm too busy to go out to lunch, I'm likely too busy to eat - and I got scolded seriously for not sharing when the food was delivered).

Liberian diet is VERY rice heavy. Which for me is great! I find it interesting how the quality of the rice varies so much depending on where you eat. At an expensive restaurant it's perfectly white, but less expensive has some grains with dark ends (burned?), etc. Of course I like the cheap stuff. The diet is a lot of greens (potato greens, cassava leaves, and numerous other kinds I can't think of right now), very spicy with these tiny peppers that pack a punch. People add pepper sauces made of these peppers. Into the greens or soups of whatever sort (my least favorite is palava which is made I think with jute leaves that are slimy) are put chunks of fish, chicken, and beef - usually all three in one bowl. Liberians cook with a LOT of oil and Maggi seasoning cubes.

So, the challenge for me will be: a varied, healthy diet. I won't be eating the chicken quesadillas on a regular basis, but I will be going for the potato greens. In my own cooking I will experiment a lot with the local fish: I need to find a good supplier and then have my way with it.

There aren't a lot of sweets here except for fruit: year-round is bananas and pineapple, and I missed mango season sadly. Peanuts are another snack sold regularly, and I used to see fresh peanut butter at the refugee camp though I haven't seen it around here yet.

And so my culinary adventures begin!

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