Saturday, March 29, 2008

What We Eat on the Mission Field

People often ask me what we eat in the Canary Islands. At home, we eat "American" style because that is what we are used to, easiest for me to prepare. Breakfast is simple, eggs, Cheerios's, or on occasion pancakes or french toast (the only pancake syrup available here is imported from Canada, which is pure maple syrup, at a price of $5.00 for 8 ounces!--so needless to say, we use it sparingly). Lunch is usually leftovers from the day before, or a quick sandwich or salad (salad dressing is also scarce over here, so I make my own--sometimes using Hidden Valley dry seasoning which people have sent me from the states, or sometimes I put lemon juice on the salad--a very low calorie option and healthy too--lots of vitamin C). Dinner is anything from chicken and rice, enchiladas, hamburgers, meatloaf, spaghetti (made from homemade sauce as there is little choice in pre-made sauces--no Ragu or Prego sauces here).

Most of my cooking is done from scratch. There are no Campbell soups for casseroles, and if you can buy pre-made sauces they are very expensive. A small jar (about the size of a large baby food jar) of El Paso salsa, for instance, will cost around $3.00 or more. Prepared salad dressings cost $5.00. There are very few cake mixes, brownie mixes--they look nothing like "Betty Crocker" or Duncan Hines--and will cost over $5.00 as well. So I cook everything from scratch, and I am sure it is much healthier anyway. Frozen foods are readily available, and most of my vegetables, such as green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and corn are cheaper purchased frozen than fresh. A head of iceberg lettuce currently costs about $2.25 per head.

The beef here is imported from Brazil, Uruguay, or Spain. For the most part it is tougher and not as juicy as you would find it in the states. One day I made very thin steaks and it was like eating shoe leather! For this reason, we eat a lot of chicken, hamburger, turkey cutlets (whole turkeys are not available in the store like you would find in the U.S.) and occasionally fish.

For snacks we eat yogurt, cheese and crackers, apples and peanut butter, which is imported from the United States! It is not a brand that you would recognize, but it tastes good. We do have some brands here that you would recognize, such as Heinz, Lays, and Nestle. You can find M&Ms, snickers, nestle chocolate bars, and even sometimes Reece cups! Doug often likes to buy himself a large chocolate bar and hide it in his office (which Rebekah and Leanna have no problem sniffing out). Store bought ice cream is expensive and packaged in liter containers (not very practical for a large family) and there are only a few types to choose from although I have noticed recently there is a growing number of new items somewhat similar to what you would find in the states. Ice cream shops are popular here and you can find numerous flavors.

I have managed to get by quite well with everything I can find here, and make substitutions when necessary. Americans are quite spoiled as food is cheaper in the states. Foods come packaged in smaller containers, which can make it a challenge when feeding a large group or a big family. The typical family in Spain is very small, so everything is packaged in small amounts. If you have three children in Spain, that is a large family.

There are a number of German and British people living in the Canary Islands, and some grocery stores cater to their tastes, importing things like sauerkraut and sausages, and foods they like to eat. There are a multitude of restaurants with every type of cuisine from pizza to Chinese. We rarely eat out, but if we do, it would probably be a quick trip to the Burger King about 10 minutes from our house, as my husband loves American style hamburgers. A double cheeseburger, small fries and drink will cost about $5.00. A whopper costs around $4.50 just for the sandwich! We really prefer to eat at home to save money. We basically eat just like we would if we were in the states.

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