I have decided that the easiest way for me to describe this experience to you is to start with the small things. Eating has always been an everyday experience for me, and if you´re reading this, it probably is for you too. So… let me tell you about some of the things I´ve been eating.
Most of you probably know that I am allergic to dairy. For some reason, I thought it would be very difficult to find food here that didn´t have cheese dripping off of it. Maybe cheese laden plates are a thing of a different country or region, or maybe dumping a load of cheese on a meal is a way we ¨Americanize¨ Latin American food. Nothing I´ve been served so far has contained cheese… not even tacos!
I am very lucky to be staying with a host mother who is a magnificent cook. There is another woman who cooks in the house in the afternoons and she too is a whiz in the kitchen.
Every morning I´ve had some form of eggs, a different way each day, and usually with frijolles negros (black beans). Pureed black beans are so rich and creamy that they remind me of a dessert!
The most interesting thing I´ve eaten so far is Guatemalan corn… I think they call it Crazy Corn. It´s corn on the cobb but then you spread ketchup and mayo all over it. Then you sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. It´s pretty good, but messy!
Guatemalans like a lot of sweet things, so I´m in good company, though dessert is not a part of meal time. We have sweet breads for snacks during class and sugar seems to be added in large quantities to many things. For instance, my mom made pasta last night and the tomato sauce tasted like candy.
Tortillarias are little tortilla shops where you can watch women patting and frying up the flat bread. When I was in Antigua on my way to Xela two women were walking around town and popping into restaurants selling their hot and fresh tortillas. One woman carried a basket filled with tortillas wrapped in a colorful patterned blanket and the other woman would take the orders and help take the basket down and put it back up on the first woman´s head.
This morning was the first time fruit was offered to me for a meal. I wonder if it´s expensive here the way it is in the States.
Tomorrow we have a graduation ceremony for the students finishing their time at the PLQ in Xela (this includes me since I head to the sister school in the mountains for the next three weeks). We´re having a potluck and the students have been asked to bring something from their homeland… I was thinking deviled eggs! How American is that?!
On Sunday I´ll take a Tica Bus to the Mountain School. I´m excited to get out of the city and to see what rural life is like in Guatemala. I´ll be living in a dorm there but eating meals with a family. I have been told that the portions are much smaller and it would be a good idea to buy some snacks while in Xela. I wonder if portions are smaller because the people are poorer.