Unless you are one of a few good friends, I’m sure you don’t care about our culinary prowess or lack thereof. Perhaps you are wondering when we will start blogging about the interesting stuff, like medical and anti-human trafficking work, and stop whining about cooking or street crossing or blond children. I’m sorry if you are feeling that way, this post is probably not for you. I promise we will eventually get around to posting about the good stuff, but not until we get a grip on simple stuff like making breakfast.
One of our previous whiny posts was on how difficult it is to cook here. We are not bad cooks, Dave is quite the ‘from scratch’ baker except…. not so much in Nepal. It is not that we have lost our skill, but have had to relearn it all over again. We have regressed to a college kid level of cooking. Our shelves are stocked with cans of soup, pork n’ beans and Wai Wai, the Nepali version of Ramen. Don’t get me wrong, Wai Wai is sooo much better than Ramen, but for health reasons (as in too much MSG) we have had to mix up the diet and try to feed ourselves with our own cooking.
Why bother to cook at all? Yeah, I actually keep asking myself that. It is relatively in-expensive to eat out here. We (kids included) love Nepali food. Our Didi cooks for us three nights a week. I must admit, I am some what embarrassed by this but then ‘eh why not?’ who wouldn’t want someone to cook for them? So it isn’t like we are short of food but sometimes you just want some good old something from home. Comfort food. This seems especially to apply to our son who continuously asks whether a particular dish is Rochester food or Nepal food.
There is no chance of getting real good ‘Rochester’ food eating out here. A little mantra we have for ourselves is ‘it always tastes different’. Sometimes they aren’t the same foods at all. I wish they just gave American dishes different names so you will at least be prepared that you are getting brushetta and feta on naan when you order a pizza. My cousin has come up with an approach to dating that she calls ‘managing expectations’. I think I will apply that to menu choices in Nepal.
So anyway since no one here can make our kind of comfort food we’ve attempted to make it ourselves but with little success. Part of our hang up with American cooking is there are no ovens. Baking is done in these ‘miracle ovens’ on the stove top. It is not easy, I burn stuff, and everything comes out in a weird bunt cake shape. Also, for the stuff we want to make, most ingredients are hard to find. Cheese and dairy in particular are a dilemma. Cheese is not a huge part of the Nepali diet and the stuff that is here is, well, just not right. There will be no managing of the expectations when it comes to cheese. You pretty much just can’t eat it. It is too strong of a taste and smell for our fussy American palates. This is a serious bummer because pretty much all our favorite foods are made with cheese. Moving to Nepal has been a cheese intervention and a wake up call that we eat way too much cheese. No joke, like several pounds of cheese a week. <hang my head in shame>. So perhaps we will lose some weight here, but in the mean time we can’t eat the cheese and we are are still without comfort food.
I brought a couple of cookbooks from home and have been scouring them for recipes with ingredients I can get here and wasn’t cheese. And the winner was…drum roll….. pancakes. It took me a while to find baking powder and I was a little sketchy about powdered milk because of its place on dairy’s family tree but I made the attempt anyway. They looked okay, smelled kind of okay, I didn’t burn anything but hey I’m a pessamist and was not going to do a victory lap until somebody tasted them. I told everyone that we would be having potcakes for breakfast, because why psych everyone up for pancakes if they tasted nothing like them. I also reminded everyone as we all sat down at the table to, manage their expectations about breakfast, it may look familiar but it was food made in Nepal and (say it with me now) ‘it never tastes the same’.
My mental prep work on the family was not necessary. We have had breakfast success!
They were good old Rochester, comfort food, American pancakes! Dave said he didn’t prefer them as fluffy and I probably should have used a little less baking powder. Yeah, okay next time, whatever, who cares. We had created edible food, preference can come later. There was no butter or syrup. Butter is way to intimately involved with dairy to even be considered and since we are total maple syrup snobs, knowing that the only ‘real’ syrup can be found in the New York, New Hampshire, Vermont tri-state area, we made do with fruit and brown sugar. Considering all it took to get to breakfast in the first place, I think a little fruit and sugar was a reasonable accommodation ;-)