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Weekly food post

We tried to go for pizza last night, but the place we wanted to go was just closing up due to lack of supplies.  So we went to McDonalds…and had the most expensive Big Mac in the world.

Weekly food post

Due to political reasons, the market was full on Inauguration Day.  There was even sugar, for the first time in months.  I loaded up at the store and have been cooking and freezing stuff for when the food disappears again.

I also received a Zoku pop maker that I’d ordered a while back. Mal loves some of the fruits and veggies (Chilean apples, broccoli, watermelon, and pineapple), but won’t touch the leafy greens, anything squash or root-like, or the citrus. I have to say, there are no lemons here but the oranges are a better substitute than the limes, they are so tart.  So my plan is to make veggie/fruit/yogurt smoothies and make those into popsicles.

Random branding notes:  The chocolate powder to mix into milk is called Toddy, and the box fruit juice is Yuky.

OK, two quick recipes that I made this week:

Garlic Clams

I’ve been trying for years to recreate the garlic clams that I got all the time in Panama, but I haven’t found the right kind of clams in the States, or gotten the sauce right.  The clams should be about the size of superballs, with grey rounded shells.  I thought maybe the chipi-chipis here would work, but as I remember digging them and playing with them on Gulf beaches as a kid, I can’t eat them (we called them coquinas).  However, I found the perfect clams this week, so here’s what I did with them, and it’s pretty good.  All amounts are approximate as I totally pantsed it.

  • 1 kilo small clams, scrubbed and open ones discarded
  • about a tbsp of olive oil
  • garlic (I used about 12-15 cloves of the tiny red Venezuelan garlic; maybe 3-4 cloves or to taste), minced or pressed
  • about 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter (the only butter I can find is salted but unsalted would be better so you could add your own salt)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Saute the garlic in the olive oil in a dutch oven, then add the wine and reduce by about half.  Add the clams, cover, and steam until they start to open.  Add the butter and steam until they fully open, shaking occasionally to distribute the butter and juice.  Don’t use any of the clams that don’t open.  Serve by putting the clams into the serving bowls, spooning the broth over, and sprinkling with parsley.

Fake Korean BBQ Chicken Wings (link the to recipe I found on Food.com).  This was a HUGE hit with the family.  Served with white rice and green beans.  We saved the leftover sauce for another use, probably more chicken if I can find it.

 

Weekly Food Post

This week’s update:  there isn’t any.  The supply lines that were turned on for the election and then turned off again have started to dry up so the shelves at the grocery stores have big empty spaces.  We’ve been moving away from processed or imported food, so we’re OK except for the lack of meat.  The meat options are the processed stuff like salami, whole frozen pig legs, and some types of seafood.  None of us will eat octopus, and the guys don’t like any fish except white fish or salmon, which aren’t available, so that’s out.  And I have no way to prepare a whole hog leg (it’s more than just the ham).

chacaoI have a lead for a butcher who has chicken, and even chicken breasts, so I may try to acquire some.  I have learned that even if a chicken is right there and you ask for “pollo” they’ll say “we don’t have any” if what they have is post-laying hen, which is “gallina.”

I went to the Mercado de Chacao yesterday, which was still pretty empty for the holidays.  It’s your basic farmer’s market or laiki or where one does one’s real shopping overseas.  A much better selection than the grocery stores, but I’m not sure my Spanish is up to the task yet.  Still, I managed in Greece and my Greek was way worse than my Spanish is.  Unlike the street markets I’m used to, it’s an established mercado like I remember from childhood stays in Mexico; there are even directional signs pointing to the sections.

Good finds:  there’s a spice stall (only one that I could find, but still, spices!), a couple really nice cheese places (one was really crowded, but I chose to patronize another where the vendor was wearing an Oakland A’s hat), and a coffee roaster.  The coffee I’ve gotten from the stores is AWFUL, which was a disappointment since Venezuela used to be famous for coffee.  There was even one guy who had cherry tomatoes and another who had some asparagus.

The main problem is that it’s a long way away; in every other country we’ve served in there were small markets within a block from our apartment so getting there wasn’t a big deal.  Even getting to the bigger markets wasn’t a big deal.  Here it’s going to be an effort to drive, take the autopiste, and fight for parking.  But there’s at least one stall that does fresh-squeezed orange juice!  (a big deal because the stuff in the stores is basically Sunny Delight, and so far I’ve only found fresh guava juice, which the boys won’t drink.)

Mal has decided arepas are acceptable, esp. with jam.  He seems to be committed to eating nothing but bare pasta, bare rice, and arepas; the all-starch diet.  I ordered a popsicle maker so that I can puree fruits and veggies, make them into frozen pops, and sneak some nutrition into him.

Weekly food post

I’ll try to keep my posting about food down to once a week, because I’m sure no one cares about it but me.

The traditional Festive Undersea Mine (Christmas Jamon de Plancheta) was worse than expected.  I was assuming it would be chopped-and-formed ham, but it was actually more like bologna.  Our Christmas dinner was therefore baloney, smashed potatoes, watermelon, and avocado…you know, the classics.

Leftovers were good, however.  Fried baloney, fried smashed potatoes with grated edam, and guasacaca.

Guasacaca

1 Venezuelan avocado or 2 Haas avocados
2 white onions
2 green bell peppers
garlic
half a bunch of cilantro and half a bunch of parsley
2 tbsp red wine vinegar or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil or to taste
salt and pepper

Throw everything except the oil in a food processor until it’s a liquid, then add the oil while the processor is running.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Put it in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Serve with everything.

We had pizza yesterday at Pizza Piccolo in Centro Commercial Tolon.  It’s a little bar and restaurant run by a guy from Merida who is super friendly.  The pizza is delicious.  I am not a huge fan of American pizza (I can’t stand Papa John’s or Domino’s, can tolerate Pizza Hut, and generally try to find independent pizzerias) with its spongy sugary crust and fake cheese, so keep that in mind.  But even Mal said it was delicious.

One thing that surprised me was how good the buffalo cheese tastes on pizza.  It melts very well and is like mozarella except creamier.  I’ve tried three types of buffalo cheese now (hard yellow, semi-soft white, and soft white) and I have to agree with the Venezuelans that queso de mano, the soft white mozarella-type stuff, is pretty good.  (The hard yellow is the NAST).  I’ve been making tortellini and putting it on top and it’s great.

Today I’m going to try to make arepas and serve them with it, and also with suero cremoso, which as far as I can tell is whey.  I was hoping to be able to use it like buttermilk for baking, but it’s pretty thick so it might be more like sour cream.  We shall see!

Never eat anything bigger than your head

AvocadoGood thing the avocados here aren’t *quite* head-sized, as they are delicious.