food

Traveling and eating out are two of my favorite things 🙂

In traveling, at least the way I do it, aimlessly wandering takes up most of my day. I’ll get to the official major sites, but I’m not one for creating strict itineraries. In eating out, including during traveling, meals are decided spontaneously from a vast list of options that I can further alter to suit my taste. Preparation and clean-up are not my concern, and there’s bound to be something on the menu that I decide “Yup, that’s what I want,” which is a different thing entirely from thinking something is merely acceptable.

But, relocating to a foreign country as a Peace Corps Volunteer is neither traveling nor eating out. It is regularly cooking your own meals from what is available locally. Even when there are places around town, and my town has a few, our Volunteer stipend would not allow us to frequent them regularly. Contrast that to life back home when I seldom denied myself a dining-out opportunity.

The significance of this cannot be overstated.

My typical meals look something like this:

Breakfasts:
cereal and milk; oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar; one over-medium egg; juice; yogurt; bread and peanut butter or jam; biscuit

Lunches:
PB&J sandwich, egg salad sandwich, pasta salad, dinner leftovers,

Dinners:
Any combination of the staples: onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, turnips in a stir-fry or soup, sometimes with pasta, sometimes with rice, sometimes with barley, sometimes with lentils or beans; pasta; grilled-cheese sandwich; 2 eggs, sometimes with cheese;

Snacks:
salad of tomato/cucumber/pepper; often apples; sometimes bananas; my own trail mix(!) of canned peanuts, a chocolate bar, and raisins; wafer cookies; and yes (however seldom) chips, even though the American brands are 3-4 times what I would have paid at home

That all sounds quite American fare, I’m sure, and I’ll post a separate Mongolian food entry. You’ll notice that isn’t much variety, though. You’ll also notice there is no meat on that list. That’s my rule: I don’t cook meat. And if it wasn’t my rule before coming here… let’s just say, I don’t want to cook anything sold from the trunk of a car. That was quite a site!

As I’ve mentioned, one never knows what will be available in a given delguur. The upside here is that one never knows what will be available in a given delguur. To understand this upside, you would have had to have witnessed my euphoria at the unexpected… “ZUCCHINI!! I’m gonna take you home and fry you up!” And I did. And it was amazing! How many times have I wandered the produce aisles at a supermarket and inevitably ended up with my usual standards? So, even though my options are severely limited, in a way my variety has increased.

Thankfully, the Peace Corps is serious about our nutritional health and safety and provided us with The Peace Corps Cookbook—Mongolia Edition.  It includes only recipes with items that we can find here, though it includes a “Posh Corps” section for those in the cities and larger towns with access to delicacies like cheese and tomatoes (that’s me!) or ovens (not me, directly). From that cookbook, I also tried my hand at green-pea (from a can) falafel, peanut butter fried rice, and zucchini risotto (it was a big zucchini!). The results were mixed but I am not done experimenting… still waiting for my first veggie-chili.

Because we can get cheese and some of my site-mates have ovens, we have occasionally (once or twice a month) had group dinners of pizza, or, most recently, home-made bread bowls for home-made broccoli-cheese soup. The day the broccoli came to town the PCVs were abuzz, “Did you hear? There’s broccoli at the Fruit and Vegetable Store.” We look out for one another.

If there is anyone willing to take the PC/Mongolia Cookbook Challenge—maybe a week, okay a weekend, of cooking from the cookbook—I’d be happy to email you the PDF. It makes for interesting reading, I think.

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7 Responses to food

  1. I can’t believe I’m just now noticing the comment section!! I usually read your posts through email, but I think I opened it up this time…and “poof” I see a comments page!! Yay!! Okay, I’m going to need to try some Mongolian dishes, but I’m going to have EJ cook! Send something my way. Maybe your favorite so we can experience first hand (um…maybe more like fourth hand) what you are eating!!! Love you! Blessings all over your sweet head!!

    • eelevol says:

      Hi cousin! I had no idea you were reading this. I know how busy you are. Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me know. Will send that recipe book pronto!

  2. Maryse says:

    Omg no meat? By the way the caf had mushroom barley soup the other day and I thought of you. Can you get mushrooms there?

    • eelevol says:

      I can get mushrooms in a can (which is probably what the caf uses, right?) or jar. There’s also those black mushrooms that are freeze dried, but I’m not confident in how to prepare those. Oh, we also have canned corn, peas, stewed tomatoes!, and I even saw eggplant in a can…

      BTW, last night’s barley soup was more vegetable than barley–so yummy! I can cook now 😀

  3. Robin says:

    Um yes, I want to see some of that cookbook. The peanut butter fried rice sounds good actually. Did your package all smell like onion from those packets? They were so strong! I know your not much of a meat eater anyway, but do you want us to send you some canned tuna?

    • eelevol says:

      There’s lots of canned fish options, but I just found “tuna” so I’m all set there. (The other cans may have said tuna in another language, idk.) One of the onion soup packets was punctured so the soup was leaking from the box–I bet the Post Office loved me! I’ll use that one when I make tonight’s veggie/barley soup.

  4. CT Blue says:

    I’d love a PDF of the PC Mongolia cookbook! Really enjoying your blog posts.

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