Last night I made dinner for my whole family, and I used only local ingredients except for one thing: soy sauce. I cooked a stir-fry dish with tons of vegetables served over rice and, of course, tortillas. When I told them I had never in my life eaten stir-fry with tortillas they gazed at me with wide eyes and open mouths for at least 15 seconds, then they began to laugh and giggle. I told them that we, in the US, eat a meal with a lot of rice, bread, pasta, potatoes, or tortillas, we usually don’t combine more than one of those starches in the same meal. They asked me a few times, “so, if you eat potatoes, you don’t eat tortillas?” I told them that not everybody does this all the time, but it’s healthier to limit your intake of complex carbohydrates. They thought it was the strangest thing not to eat tortillas with every meal. Many times a week they ask me, “in your country, do the people make their tortillas out of corn or flour?” I have responded multiple times that we have both types, but people buy them in the stores and they are usually made by a machine, not hand-made. “And in your country, everybody has their own land where they farm maíz?” No, some people have their own vegetable garden, but most people buy their fruits and veggies in a store or market, and we don’t make our own tortillas so we don’t farm maíz. “And, in your country, the people go to the molino or do they grind their maíz by hand?” (The molino is the machine that grinds the maíz into masa, tortilla dough.) Well, we don’t have molinos because people don’t farm their own maíz nor do they make their own tortillas. We only eat tortillas once or twice a week. That’s the point in the conversation when I get laughed at.
Everybody tried my stir-fry food and they said they liked it. I used broccoli, red bell peppers, onions, green beans, celery, radishes, garlic, and a little cilantro. They all commented that it was such a different dish because it had so many veggies, but that it tasted good and seemed very healthy and easy to make. The mom was even asking me about other veggies you could possibly add and I told her you could use whatever you wanted in whatever quantities you like. I just happen to like and have access to these veggies so I used them. I also told her that whatever I have left over the following morning I’ll just scramble together with an egg or two for breakfast. She thought that was pretty creative. (I did have my eggs this morning with veggie leftovers, served with avocado on toasted bread. It was delicious.) Okay, something I have almost always done with my meals: calculate the cost per person. Broccoli – 2, pepper – 2, onion and green beans – 1, celery – 3, radishes – 1, garlic and cilantro – negligible, rice – 2, soy sauce – 2 (and I’m overestimating all the costs that I’m not exactly sure of). Total: Q13, total number of persons: 5, cost per person: Q3 ($0.35) for a filling, nutritious dinner with leftovers.