Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

This is my personal blog and a space that I try to make sense of my wandering life. Depending on the day it could be a helpful resource for the country I'm in, or a self-help guide. We'll just have to see ;)

The Jungle (cook) Book

So, I live in the jungle. And while my friends like to imagine me hunting things with spears and machetes or foraging for roots and berries…I’m quite happy to dispel the myth. I live in a jungle, you live in the suburbs. The only real difference is that I have fist-size bugs join me for dinner, while you have neighborhood kids. Other than that, things really aren’t that different. Our house has a fully equipped kitchen: cutting boards, a blender, pots and pans, refrigerator and a new gas stove and oven. It’s pretty cushy actually, by international standards. We even have a crepe pan and a cheese grater.

So why the big adjustment?

For starters, we don’t have a lot of fridge space. Four girls using one refrigerator means little room for leftovers, or things that need to chill or marinate. Then, there are ingredients. Again, by international standards (compared to cooking on the go, or in hostels for example), this is luxury. Nonetheless, it’s an adjustment. Food that has always been part of my routine grocery list is either super expensive, or simply doesn’t exist. Forget anything processed. Or packaged for that matter. No more ramen, Kraft mac and cheese or lean cuisine’s when I’m feeling lazy. The Cliff and Luna bars I survived on through college? Too expensive. Soy, almond, or coconut milk? Same thing. Things like aged cheeses, the blues, brie, and goat cheeses I could afford to indulge in once in a while are hard to find, often not as good, and carry a hefty price tag. It’s not like some countries where things simply are not available – almost anything can be bought here, but for a price.

So, I’m working on a solution. We have a “bodega pantry” here with staples. Since it could potentially save me a LOT of money, and challenges me to be creative when making meals up…I’ve turned it into a hobby. My goal is to figure out the most delicious, cheapest and healthiest way to survive on this food and the main produce that I find in town. Fruits and veggies are cheap, and the variety is large. They come in some pretty strange shapes and sizes, and I’m discovering what exotic fruits are worth a few extra colones, and which aren’t. I’m learning to cook slowly, to taste test, and that herbs will be my lifesaver. I’ll try to share some recipes and take pictures along the way. With a small budget a big appetite, here is my cooking motto for the next 14 months:

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
– Teddy Roosevelt


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