Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Saints in Nicaragua: Eating in a foreign country

The last night before I left home, I drove myself to a nearby fast food place because I did not like what was served for dinner. This has always been a problem for me, as I do not eat many foods, let alone foods I do not know. The food situation on this trip was the biggest trepidation for me, not the work, the bugs, the people, or the fact that we would be staying with families that don't speak any English. It seems like such a small thing to worry about, but I was unsure of what I was going to be served and what I would do if I didn't like it. I stocked up on snacks at the airport to make sure I was not too hungry come dinner.
     My first hurdle was the in-flight meal provided by Avianca. It was macaroni and cheese, but barely recognizable due to its overly processed nature. I took a bite and a warm goo that had hardly any flavor filled my mouth. This "cheese" was not for me. I ate the cookies that came with the meal and threw the rest away. 0 for 1.
    However, when we finally arrived, and were served dinner, a welcome sight appeared, in the form of chicken and rice. The hunger from the busy travel day, and the fact that I was greeted with such a familiar meal gave me all the reason to clean my plate.
     That was just the hotel dinner though, how would I fare with breakfast, or the meals provided by my host family? A strange combination answered my first question. Eggs were served with rice and beans, which was again, something I could tolerate. I was able to finish this meal as well, and was starting to think that I was going to be able to handle my biggest original fear.
      Fast forward to the fourth night here (Monday), and Doña Lucia (our host mother) is asking me if I ate all my food because I didn't finish last night's meal. I had to sheepishly reply that I had not finished my dinner, because I was full. However, the real reason that I didn't finish the meal was that it was something that I was uncomfortable with, or didn't particularly enjoy. I don't even remember exactly what the food was, but the embarrassment of being called out for not finishing my food was weighing on me.
      Breakfast is always a different story. Like clockwork I rush downstairs, eat all my food, drink three glasses of whatever juice is put out, and race out the door. I have never had a problem with breakfast foods. Every camp I have attended or brunch I have been dragged to, I was able to enjoy whatever foods are available. Luckily for me, this did not change in Nicaragua.
     Even with the struggles of not finishing my food, I have been "branching out" and eating more food that I would not have eaten in the U.S. For example, dinner the first night in our home stays was "tostada con queso fresco", which is a piece of bread with a block of strange cheese that you are supposed to eat wth the bread. And of course, the meal was accompanied by rice and beans. If this was served to me in the U.S, I would never have even tried it, but because of my adventure in Nicaragua, I decided to go with it.
      I am happy to say that I have been able to eat the majority of the food at all of the meals we have had here. I am also happy to say that's I am discovering more foods that I enjoy, that I would never have been exposed to in my comfortable routine at home. This trip has been transformative in many ways for me, but especially in this way.

-Jacob Lipton

1 comment:

Matt in Costa Rica said...

Great story! I am glad to hear you were able to overcome your trepidation about the food and try new things. Excellent! -Matt