Saturday, February 25, 2012

Food or Books?

When I go to Apia, which is usually every 2 or 3 months, I buy food.  Things I can’t get on my island.  Olives, peppers, marshmallows (although there were none to be had this trip), canned tomatoes,  nail polish remover (ok, not food), lentils, etc.  I also buy fresh produce that I can’t get here.  I couldn’t understand why they didn’t sell the same produce at the market since it can (and frequently is) grown on my island.  It’s because there’s no one to buy it.  There are very few palagis on my island and very few Samoans interested in expanding the very limited menu here.

Now that Mr. Kindle is brain dead, I need books.  Books are in short supply here.  They have a few English novels at the Wesley book store, but they are mostly religion-themed and about $20 US a book.  There’s a library which I hear has English books but the hours are 10:00 to 3:00 and I’m teaching then.  No Saturday hours.   Importing books from the stash at the PC office seems the best option.

Friday I went to Apia for meetings, shopping and a cooking lesson with our Country Director’s wife.  It was a dilemma.  I had a carry on bag (roller type) and a back pack.  Since I was just there for one night, I took very little with me.  The problem coming home was less space than weight.  I typically read 2 books or so a week.  If I exchange books every 2 months, that’s 16 books.  That’s a lot of weight.  Jar of jalepenos or a book?  Choices, choices.

I was talking to a couple of other volunteers yesterday and admitted that I’m a food hoarder.  They said they were too.  I used to read magazines like Family Circle which advocated making up menus for a month and shopping only for those items.  If you planned carefully and used leftovers you could save millions of dollars.  I tried it.  Once.  But sometimes when it was spaghetti night, I wanted chicken. 

Samoans eat what they have.  And typically, they have food in the house for one meal.  If you’re not in the mood for whatever that food is, you don’t eat.  But that wouldn’t happen.  They are not spoiled, like I am, and think you should be able to eat whatever you have a taste for at the time.

It felt better to hear that the other two volunteers use my approach.  Keep the cupboards stocked with staples and fresh veg of some kind and then you can whip up whatever.  No advance planning needed. But I still feel a twinge of guilt when I look at my fully stocked ‘fridge and cupboards.  Misplaced guilt?  Perhaps.  Guilt or not, it’s the way I prefer to eat and I’ll keep doing it.  I’m already planning to “eat down” my pantry before I leave.  Most of the stuff I have my Samoan friends and family wouldn’t want and the new volunteers will be in training on the other island.  Even the pigs won’t eat my lentils.  They don’t know what they’re missing.
I’m getting ready to leave for church and still don’t know what I’ll have for lunch after.  Because I shopped in Apia yesterday, I have meat other than chicken legs/thighs.  I scored some chorizo.  Locally made and barely spiced, but still, it’s chorizo.  Also got a few pieces of chuck steak.  I freeze packages of about 3 ounces and use it to make green chile stew and other treats.  I also have bleu cheese.  Farmer Joe’s discounts their dairy products when the expiration date is nigh.  I got the cheese for $2.50, US.  Normally $13 and out of my price range.  There were two packages left and I bought them both.  Another volunteer was thrilled to repay me for it so we both got bargain cheese.

I also have “real” green beans.  Not the tough long beans that I can get here part of the year, but actual green beans.  My options for lunch are endless.  Every Samoan family in the village will be having taro, breadfruit, chicken and, perhaps, pig. 

1 comment:

  1. I was sad to learn that Mr. Kindle is brain dead. Reading about how difficult it can be to obtain books prompted me to remember that it is now possible to download books to any computer. Amazon even offers a free program to download so anyone can have a "Kindle experience" via a laptop, or other computing device. If you haven't already known this, or tried it, go to this site:

    If you search the Internet, you can find other resources, too.

    Continued best wishes!