Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eat what the locals eat...or not.


When starting out cruising, one of the first things you worry about is food.  You always try to stock up on everything and there’s a  balance between wanting to try new food and not wanting to go hungry.  Everyone always tells you, “eat what the locals eat and you won’t have to worry about it.”

I’m here to dispute that thought process.  I’m going way against the cruising grain here, but in our case, I think I’m right.  “Eat what the locals eat” is easy to say and follow in Mexico.  I mean really, who doesn’t love Mexican food?  Fish tacos, enchiladas, home made pico de gallo (although that’s a lot harder to find than you would think).  But who thinks about going out to dinner and says, “Honey, lets have some Micronesian food tonight!”  No one.  Do you know why?  Because canned corn beef, potato chips and mechanically separated turkey doesn’t sound good does it?  I know, I know…”they eat fish and rice and breadfruit and taro and oh, Monica, you just haven’t gotten into the culture!”  Wrong again.  They USED to eat that stuff and on the outer islands, you MAY find a few that still do, but I assure you, canned corn beef IS local food and has been for the last 2,000 miles of our adventure.  I saw a 1 year old kid at the laundry mat and in the few hours is took me to finish my laundry, I saw this kid drink 2 full size sodas and eat a rice crispy treat, bag of chips and a lolly pop.  No joke.  This area of the world has the largest diabetic population known and I am not shocked in the least.

Why am I writing about this now?  Well, I just spent a few months in California (5 months total in the States) and I am having some serious vegetable withdrawls.  To make matters worse, my parents are vegetarians so I ate an abnormal amount of veggies for me and well, my body liked it.  Here, in Pohnpei, it’s feast or famine.  “Feast” means a ship just came in….from the US.  Meaning it stopped in HI, Majuro, Kosrae and then here.  By the time it got here, the broccoli is growing extra things and the red peppers have fur on their caps.  “What about local produce Monica?”….I can hear you asking that.  Well, yes…there are bananas and coconuts.  There are cucumbers (by the way, that’s the highlight of Pohnpei for me….cucumbers…I love them and they are always around).  You can get fish but more often than not, it’s very small reef fish that you just took pictures of on your last snorkeling trip.  I have bought local lettuce (available once), eggplant (I’m just making myself like eggplant) and tonight, I bought green beans (I happen to be the only one on board who likes these).  The fact is, they don’t eat veggies.  They just don’t.  Kosrae had local gardens.  Pohnpei has these, but they are REALLY hard to find.

OK…I got off track.  “Famine” means just that.  Today we went to a restaurant and the choice with my chicken sandwich was fries or green salad.  I ordered green salad.  “We don’t have salad.”  I asked the grocery store when they were expecting the next container of veggies.  She screwed her face up really funny and said “ooooooo….November 2!”  It’s October 16.  But even that varies.  You can ask 10 different people and get 10 different answers.  But today…the entire island is out of veggies.  We drove around the island today and I looked in every small roadside stand and all I saw was beetle nut (think ‘skoal” and cigarette butts and rotten teeth) and donuts. 

After all that ranting, though…..we were on our way back to the boat tonight and we ran into a local ex-pat who had been fishing on his kayak all day and he gave us a tiny little barracuda.  Andy cooked it up and I cut up some cold cucumbers and blanched green beans (with dip) and we feasted on a relatively healthy dinner.  It’s all in your perspective, I guess.  We have some friends here who are Seventh Day Adventists, traditionally vegetarian.  I’m dying to know what they’re eating.  Canned corn and spinach, I’m guessing.

Food is always going to be one of the ways we rate our adventures.  For those of you that share our love for cuisine (and cruising), just think about that, while you prepare for your next major crossing or adventure.  “Eat what the locals eat,” sounds good, but isn’t always the best plan of attack.  Unless you don’t mind carrying an extra supply of insulin and cholesterol pills on board with you…  I’m just sayin’…..

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

As you said : if it fits your bill , yes, if does not , simply pass.Tomorrow ,another port ,another story.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Which is why we loved Fiji. We were so excited by the vegies there. So many colours. So tricky to teach the kids balanced eating though isn't it when there are no options?

Katy said...

I am a vegetarian and obtaining all the veggies I want to eat while cruising is something I have thought about a lot. So far I have come across the idea of growing sprouts from Mung beans while afloat and that is about it. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I really enjoy reading your blog.

kim said...

Great post!!

The Crew of Savannah said...

Thanks for the comments. we have found in the last week that yes, we can exist on mangrove crabs and cucumbers! The container ship came in today so all fingers are crossed.
Katy, the only problem I've found with "sprouting" is Agriculture in many countries, when checking in, take everything you have if you didn't buy it there (as you're just arriving, that's everything. They took our lonely onion here in pohnpei, which we purchased in micronesia...just not pohnpei). But if you stay in one place for a while, great idea!

The Homesteader's Wife said...

Omg, Monica, I would just DIE. I have to eat salad with every other meal to stay "regular" (if you know what I mean) and can't imagine not having green veggies regularly in my life. Thank goodness you have cukes at least. My Polish Grandma used to make "bread & butter" pickles with hers--cucumbers sliced thinly, some sour cream, a little vinegar, some salt and pepper, and chopped fresh dill. They were a little soupy (due to the salt/vinegar combo) but they were very tasty. You can Google the exact recipe to get the right amounts. She called them "Bread & Butter" pickles, but I think everyone else calls them pickles with sour cream and vinegar. Either way, it's a tasty way to use up cukes and still get your veggie intake. I have to admit, I would literally die without having something green every day. I am a complete wimp!

Becky

The Crew of Savannah said...

Hey Becky! I would give that a try if I could find dill and sour cream. I'm thinking of leaving some of our canned cream from Mexico out in the sun and seeing if it will "sour".... that's how they make it, right?

The Homesteader's Wife said...

Monica, you can add a teaspoon or two to either milk or your canned cream to "sour" it--as for the dill, I have no idea of what you could substitute for it! :)

The Homesteader's Wife said...

Teaspoon or two of VINEGAR, duh, my ADD is kicking in again...

Nancy, Ethan & Zada said...

Wait until you get to Palau. There it's dipping SPAM into sweetened condensed milk...I joke you not. I passed and passed too on the fruit bat and was thankful for my bulk peanut butter (though they do have more veggies there)...good post. You make us smile. xo

Just a Minute said...

Too funny Monica!
great post. I had to read it out loud to Patrick. May you find veggies soon.
Laura, Patrick, Jack

The Crew of Savannah said...

Thanks guys! Nancy, I will NEVER dip Spam in condensed milk....I promise. I will starve first. Laura, what are you guys doing now? how are you liking "Land life?" There's a guy here that has sailed around the world and he says he's never really re-integrated....he just fakes it through the day. wishing you the best....

Naomi said...

Wow - look at all these comments. You're reaching super hero blogger status. Clearly, food is close to all our hearts. Yep - I tried the vinegar in canned cream trick. It was SOOOO Lovely to make spinich dip in far away places. When we got back to the PNW coast, a friend of ours gifted us with an ice cream bucket with a couple lettuce plants and some parsley growing. We tied it to the pedestal and had fresh salad all the way home. Fresh veg was still rare on the central BC coast. That said...we didn't have to deal with customs and agriculture folks anymore, either.

The Crew of Savannah said...

Hi Naomi! I haven't used the vinegar in cream trick as I don't really care much for sour cream. But I do use it in milk to make "buttermilk"....works for my biscuits and naan bread.

I read about your re-integration into "work"...so sad, so sad....hang in there! Tell John hi for us.

Anonymous said...

My Baby the "Foodie" ! What a trip! Love the blog...

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