After having delicious flavorful Thanksgiving food I have decided I am done with oatmeal and other tasteless, formless food that looks like tossed cookies whether it has been tossed or not. It is not nearly as tasty as I thought it was after having cereal and WAFFLES. F-ing WAFFLES!
Of course I have made this declaration before and I keep on coming back to the damn stuff. The first time I ever left the United States when I was seventeen I went on a long hiking trip and we ate heroic amounts of oatmeal, what with it being pretty hard for a seventeen year old out in the wilderness to mess up mixing hot water with a packet of oats. We also miscalculated one week and did not buy enough real food so we ended up eating a lot more oatmeal than previously intended. I was definitely done with oatmeal after that trip.
Here in El Salvador, sometimes I feel like I am camping. For two years. Recently, since our gas ran out and my host mom can’t afford to buy another tank we have been cooking over our open fire stove usually reserved for long term tasks like cooking beans or corn. I have figured out a great diet that should make its way to the US – throw away your kitchen appliances and cook over fire – you would be amazed how much you examine whether you really want that egg when you have to go get firewood, coax it into a hot enough flame and then heat the pan before you can actually cook the damn thing.
My new tactic is to boil water whenever someone else is cooking something, or there are hot coals that are easily brought back to life. I panic when I see the flames dying. Quick! Cook something. ANYTHING! We don’t know how long we have! I just grab the first pot or pan and boil water when I see the hot coals, even if I was just drinking tea and was only walking by the cocina. I have boiled water for no reason other than I was panicking and then have to sheepishly pour it out. The worst is when I walk away, forget I was boiling unneeded water only to have my host sister alert me that it is boiling and have her watch as I aimlessly look around trying to figure out what I can do with this water. I am pretty sure they think I am nuts.
Once I get back to the US I worry I will constantly be heating things up for no reason, toasting sandwiches, boiling potatoes, for fear the microwave will stop working or the toaster oven will kick it.
So, my Thanksgiving went very well. I spent a few extra days sending my dog home (successfully!) so I got to enjoy the leftovers. I felt like I was back in the US. I stayed with a great US embassy family and enjoyed the wonderful perks of embassy life like hot showers, indoor plumbing, and not eating tortillas (or oatmeal for that matter). One of the best parts? Heating up the leftovers in the microwave. All of you reading this post from homes that have microwaves. Do not dismiss the modern marvel that it is. In three minutes or less your stone cold food can be piping hot! No open flames for you! No panic sets in when you fathom what you will have to do to make the pancake mix you bought or how you will reheat this tamale. Cherish it. And eat some reheated mac n’ cheese for me while you’re at it. Also try not to send me those chocolate calcium vitamins cause those things are TASTY and do not require any cooking. Can you overdose on calcium?