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).
I 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.