When we decided to come home for a bit, I was really excited to catch up with some old friends: the Yumm Bowl from Café Yumm, Garlic Chicken Pizza add Pineapple from Figaros, and the Flat White from Starbucks. Even though you can find many American restaurants and foods in Central America, there is something to be said about the ease of just picking up a pizza on the way home from work or a Starbucks on your way to work… most of my life revolves around food and work right now… Everything to do with food is just a little harder when you’re traveling. Whether it’s going to the grocery store and trying to locate recognizable foods in a sea of foreign brands, or trying to save money by not eating out but wanting to try all the local treats!
Food is such a large part of traveling, so people ask us all the time “what’s your favorite food so far,” or “what is the food like in [insert place here].” Truth is, it’s all awesome, but it’s all been fairly similar so far. Lots of variations of beans and rice, lots of whole grilled fish, and LOTS of chicken! Fried, grilled, shredded, bbq-ed, pretty much anything you can do to cook a chicken they do it in Central America.
Every once in a while the food is not so great. Like when you accidentally order something that looks like a bowl of pork skin (complete with hair) in a tomato broth. Don't worry, we made Chyanne eat the whole thing!
The best food related discoveries are found on the street. We find the experience of ordering food directly from the person preparing it, watching the process as the food is prepared and then eating it while having a conversation with the cook is the most magical of all food experiences. And it is often the most delicious, and cheapest food to be had in a city. If you’re worried about the cooking standards of this food remember that you can see this process happening in front of you and in most restaurants the food is prepared in much the same way but you just can’t see it happen… Also a shot of tequila after your meal is always a good idea to kill any possible bacteria that may have hitched a ride. This is verified by multiple doctors we’ve met on our travels from places like Canada, the US, and France… but they might have been drunk when they told us… Either way it seems to have worked so far and serves as a great excuse to have some tequila with your lunch!
One thing I thought would be different is how I cooked, I had all these intentions of buying food at street markets each day and trying out crazy new local fruits and vegetables in each new place, even learning to cook local dishes. The reality was I might be an adventurous eater, but I’m not a very adventurous cook. I was mostly intimidated by the fruits and veggies I didn’t recognize and shied away from trying to cook with them, thinking I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them and would make some inedible catastrophe! Mostly we ate a lot more avocado, I cooked a lot more rice and beans because they’re cheap and easy, and we started eating corn tortillas with pretty much every meal. So we pretty much ate like the locals.
It is definitely nice being back in the US. The ease of getting/preparing food is pretty great, but I do miss cooking in my awesome little camper kitchen. When everything is within arms-length of you it’s so easy, even though that does require giving up a lot of counter space. Despite the tight spaces, I’ve managed to cook Butter Chicken and rice for 10+ people and make peach preserves from fresh peaches I found in Belize for a glazed pork chop, just to name a couple of my cooking accomplishments.
Looking back at all these pictures makes me so hungry for the food and culture of Central America again, especially Mexico. We'll enjoy the next few weeks of easy shopping and fast food options, but it'll be great to get back into our own kitchen on the road and dive back in to some street food and local treats! In the meantime, we'll have to settle for amazing local BBQ with friends and family!
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