Saturday, April 21, 2012

Like, officially

So, somehow I've avoided mentioning this until now, but awhile ago I was contacted to write as an "Official Blogger Promoting Tourism in Colombia." When I told my mom this, her response was, "wait, have they read your blog?," a question that, frankly, had crossed my mind as well. I wouldn't consider this blog pro-any country, really; I would more consider myself an equal-opportunity complainer, and eater, as it were. Unsurprisingly, most of what I've written for the Colombia blog so far has to do with food. I've made empanadas de cambray (cheese and guava-filled empanadas), Colombian-style juice, and papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes). This week I'm writing about littering and (intentionally) dropping cheese in your hot chocolate. My sister also makes her Official Internet Debut, in fine form. Check it out.

Anyways, now that that's out of the way, my dad's coming to visit next week! I am, needless to say, very excited, although I wish I felt a bit more confident as a tour guide. We have done painfully little in terms of tourist-y destinations since we've been here and my Portuguese is certainly not where I would like it to be. My dad always jumps at the chance to travel (I say this as if the apple had fallen far from the tree), and when I lived in Buenos Aires he came to visit after I'd been living there for about the same length of time I've been living here, around 6 months. My Spanish was very iffy, and I was still figuring the place out myself. We had a great time, but the difference between when he came and when my mom came to visit 2 years later was day and night as far as my feeling Official Tour Guide-ready. Unsurprisingly, that same situation seems to be playing out again in Brazil, and I'll do my best but I can't help but go back to feeling inadequate for the job.

Invariably, whenever anyone from my family comes to visit, I send a list requesting foods for them to please pretty please bring me. Before living outside of the states, I had a vague notion of what "American" food was (and I knew that Europeans thought peanut butter was gross), but I never thought about it in terms of, how would my grocery shopping be limited if I lived in another country? Well, in case you were wondering what it's like, or in case you're ever planning on visiting a friend living outside of the country and want to bring them something from home, this is my typical request list:

TJ's peanut butter (4 jars crunchy and 2 jars smooth)
TJ's Pound Plus dark and bittersweet chocolate bars
Pecans
Dried cranberries
Wild rice
Buckwheat flour
Maple syrup
Bourbon (Maker's Mark or Knob Creek)
Chipotles en adobo (La Raza brand)
Masa harina
TJ's wasabi trail mix (my mom got Felipe hooked on this when she visited us in Argentina)

David Lebovitz, who writes one of the most well known ex-pat food blogs from France, has written about stuffing his suitcase with dried cherries, Chex and corn syrup. Anecdotally speaking, peanut butter seems to be a common denominator among all American ex-pats. Those of us living in Latin America tend to complain a lot about the cheese available here, but unfortunately most of our beloved friends and family are not so keen on carrying a cooler stuffed with goat cheese and sharp cheddar onto international flights, so I at least have mostly given up on that. There are some things I used to request-- vanilla extract, candied ginger-- that I learned to make myself. Other things that were difficult to find in Buenos Aires-- (good tasting) coffee, molasses, coconut milk-- are thankfully abundant in Brazil. And obviously, if I were living in Mexico, the chipotles and masa harina would not be on the list. But just in case you happen to be fantasizing about moving to another country, consider the scenario of walking into a grocery store with no peanut butter and no bourbon. Now go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich for me, and consider me Officially Jealous.

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