I figured you might be curious to see how some of our habits have changed over the past 1.5 years. Food is a big area. So I’ll start with edible things in this post.
We eat eggs and soaked oatmeal for breakfast. Not much has changed here–that’s still really western. Most people eat fried rice or rice porridge for breakfast, but since I can’t seem to kick the protein habit, we enjoy the eggs. On Java eggs were sold by the kilo, here it’s by the rack. Here we get made fun of for the amount of eggs we eat—same as in Java. Finn eats eggs plus red rice porridge that’s mixed with a banana (he’s a boss when it comes to breakfast ). I’m honestly too lazy to make bread anymore, which might change in the future, but for now I’m sticking to the oatmeal. Surprisingly, you can find chia and sesane seeds here. Nuts are expensive though, so we usually stick to seeds and raisins in our oatmeal–and toasted coconut.
We adults started drinking coffee in the morning–tea just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Maybe that comes with parenthood or language study?–not sure. After Payton helped install a village water system up in the mountains, we were given some raw coffee beans as a gift, so we got to roast our own. Nothing fancy, by way of equipment, just a pot on the stove, but it tasted terrific!
Meals: We cook once a day, and heat up leftovers for the other meal. Right now, I either fry up fish or roast a whole chicken. There are no easy lunch meals–no sandwiches or salads. Well, I take it back, it’s possible, but a whole lot of work. We usually eat rice, greens and fish/chicken at every meal, often paired with tempe. I chop heaps of fresh onions, garlic and pepper for any meal. I can now gut fish without much problem. We are getting better at picking bones out of fish (because our fish anatomy skills are getting better–I can anticipate where the bones will be).
We use a rice cooker as our main appliance. One time the power went out in the middle of cooking and I freaked out…until I remembered it’s possible to cook rice in a pan. Haha.
Spicy has also become a standard at the table. Lots of this has been influenced by the fact that we have local girls living with us and they can eat all sorts of fire hot pepper sauces/salsas without blinking. The girls also taught me how to roast stuff over an open fire in the backyard. Nothing like a roasted/smoked chicken!
We’ve traded in plates and bowls for “blates.” I love having one dish for every meal. And we’ve started practicing eating with our hands since that’s pretty common here. If we do use silverware, it’s mostly spoons now. We also hardly ever use napkins at mealtimes, mostly Kleenex/tissue. Random, huh?
What we miss:
Cheese is what we miss most. There is cheese here: mozzerela or cheddar (in very small expensive packages), and shelf-stable stuff (doesn’t count as cheese, since no one is really sure what it is and why it doesn’t melt). I literally cannot look at menu ideas or planning sites because I get jealous. I avoid Facebook because of the endless food ideas that are impossible to accomplish. If I want feta cheese I have to locate a goat and also order mesophillic starter culture to even begin to entertain the idea…. And don’t even get me started on pumpkin spice things. If I want them, I have to start from the whole pumpkin.
Fru-fru teas. I’m eternally spoiled by Celestial Seasonings Teas. The local fare is plain and black and not fun. Thankfully, good friends have continued to send/bring me enough to where I my stash hasn’t ever been fully empty.
Corn Tortilla chips. It’s hard to always have salsa with your fish and know that there aren’t any Santitas to go with them. Plus, almost every other salty snack has MSG, which means instant headache.
What we love:
Coconut! The milk, water, meat, etc–all parts. I make flour from the meat and make banana/pumpkin bread with it for our daily snack and brownies on special occasions. It’s an amazing food and very useful.
Abundant fresh fruit: Dragon fruit and papaya remain at the top of my list. The pineapples in Sulawesi are also delightful. Fresh spices are everywhere, to name a few, ginger, turmeric, cloves, lemongrass, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, and a bunch of different root thingys that all look like ginger, but if you happen to use in place of ginger, will mess up your food. Fish–sometimes you see Finding Nemo varieties on the side of the road near the coast, but mostly we stick to the basics. Veggies–I could be wrong, but I think anything that is green and grows here can be steamed, fried or mixed with coconut milk. Weekly, our veggie fare consists of ferns, papaya flowers, sweet potato greens, cabbages, spinach, and stuff we don’t have names for in English.
Healthy tradeoffs. When I first got here, I had a years supply of supplements that I kind of needed. After a while, we realized it was going to be impossible to acquire more. I’d have to go to Singapore and pay an arm and a leg, plus they are not allowed to be sent in packages. First, we just had to pray about it. And then, we just tried to brainstorm about how to keep us healthy. Beyond keeping the fried food to a minimum, which is honestly hard since its readily available and delicious, we tried to up the greens. But, you’ve also got to watch how much raw produce you eat because then you might acquire amoebas or other yucky things. The main thing we did was focus on our liver and guts. Those take the biggest hits and are also your front lines of defense. I had a choice, I could pay $60 online for an imported bottle of probiotics that would make me gassy and only last a month, or I could start brewing some things in my pantry. We decided to reintroduce kombucha and water kefir into our diets. It really was a win-win. All the ingredients are easy to find (aka sustainable!): water, tea, and sugar for the kombucha, and the kefir takes sugar and water. This keeps our livers clean and guts full of good bacteria. Plus, something refreshing to drink in hot temps is so nice. I just tried one thing at a time until it fit into our normal routine without being a bother. Continuous brew kombucha is soooooo easy, plus it seems to naturally stay bug free.
I’ve also tried fermenting saurkraut and some sriracha style hot sauce (I paid less that $3 for a kilo of medium peppers and some salt). I also tried ginger ale and had some really strange outcomes–some yummy, some not so yummy. I’ll probably try again soon.
So, as you can see, we are indeed eating well and enjoying the tradeoffs. We are thankful every day that our bellies are full even though we know that for most of those around us, that’s not the case. We pray that the privilege of full bellies will remind us to be diligent to remain focused in our studies and one day be able to communicate truth to those around us about the One who can ultimately satisfy the hungry soul.