Friday, June 26, 2015

The Food Post (Part I)

I've been meaning to post about the food here in Lima for a while! Unfortunately, I never seem to have the time to blog lately (having two little kids at home full time will do that to a person). So since it's 9 pm, I'll cut to the chase: from what I've seen in my limited time here, Peruvian food is delicious, fresh, and healthy. A few people told me my first week here that I'd gain the "Freshman 20" but I'm not sure what exactly they're eating. We are blessed with an empleada who is a very good cook, and nothing she's made is unhealthy. It's all fresh and from scratch (which is a lot more than I can say for what I was eating in America!). I'm sure if we were eating out more, it would be a different story, but since there aren't any restaurants near where we live and we don't have a car...delicious home cooking it is!

Of course, any cuisine, no matter how tasty, gets a little old after a while. I'm craving Thai food like nobody's business. Our poor empleada is also severely limited by our weird dietary restrictions (no meat for the kids and me, no gluten for John) so I ordered a couple of Spanish-language cookbooks to broaden our options. Sadly, we've only eaten out a few times here, but I hope to remedy that in the coming months. In the meantime, I'm super grateful not to have to cook every night!

And now for some pictures:

Ceviche, shrimp soup, and fresh guacamole (a la John)

Ceviche here is served with onions, sweet potato, and the best corn in the world

The fruit options here are ridic. This is cherimoya. It tastes kind of like mango.

Rice, french fries, and lomo saltado (a beef dish that John seems to enjoy)
Empanadas and other deliciousness at a little store near our house

Fruit at the mercado

Everything from tofu to sweet potato chips.
(Thanks to my friend Marisol for showing me how it works!)

And last but not least, our go-to dessert when we're out of ice cream:
whipped cream and dulce de leche. Trust me, it's amazing.

Tomorrow we're heading down the coast to Paracas for a few days of vacation. Hopefully we'll have even more delicious food experiences to share soon. I'm expecting many more parts to The Food Post over the next two years.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Everyday

I usually try not to post the same things on both blogs, but this was one of those posts that fit in both places:

I think one of the hardest things about moving to a new place is adjusting to a new everyday routine. Right now, without a car, we're "trapped," as John put it. That may sound a little dramatic, but some days it really feels like it's true. Jack isn't in school, Will is more mobile every hour it seems (and we remain baby gate-less, even though two different carpenters have come to measure our stairs), and we are going on one month of the same few toys and books. The things that are easy at "home" - running errands, getting groceries, going to a cafe - are so much harder in a new place.

For example: two weeks ago, I spent hours of my life chasing the fastest, most tenacious ants I've ever seen around our kitchen, until a kindly gentleman from the embassy showed up with Raid. Because the truth is, I didn't have the energy to put both kids (one with a car seat, one sadly without, since I can't take both) and a stroller into a cab (where I inevitably have to dig around for several minutes to find all the seat belts), attempt to navigate in Spanish, search high and low in a store I don't know, call another cab, reload, and come home, just to deal with some damn ants.

Fortunately, a week and a half ago, we hired our empleada, Celia. She is amazing with the kids, is a fabulous cook, cleans the house from top to bottom, runs to the store if I need her to, and translates for me when I'm desperate. And now that I have someone I can leave the kids with for a couple hours here and there, I was able to go out twice last week by myself! (After several weeks of not having a moment to myself, this is a big deal.) Cabbing here is never fun, but it's a hell of a lot easier alone than doing it with two kids in tow.

One of the things I struggle with most is that this area of Lima isn't walkable. But today Celia (who I'm pretty sure was as bored as I am) suggested we go for a walk, so we braved the sidewalk-less streets and made our way to a little park near our house. It's just a series of winding dirt paths, but it's a quiet place where people go to walk their dogs and sit in the shade.

Parque Jerusalem (or "the Jewish park" as Jackie calls it).

Behind the park is a street full of little markets and shops. We stopped for cookies at a bakery and Celia bought three massive plantains and a bag full of green beans for less than 3 soles (about a dollar).

"Stop taking pictures already!"

Jack is not impressed by the purple corn.

It was nice to feel like we're in a neighborhood, rather than just a series of walls and gates, with only the rooftops of our neighbors' houses visible.

Walls and dirt mountains don't make for the best view.
But bright flowers and happy kids help.

And cookies! Don't forget the cookies!
I know that once we have our car, Jack is in school, and I get into a writing routine, things will be a lot more comfortable. I miss my friends, but I'm grateful for Facebook and Skype (even if John thinks I spend way too much time on my phone), and we have our first trip planned for next weekend! I'm excited to get out and see something beyond Lima.

Starting over is never easy, but I know how fortunate we are to be here. I really want to make the most of our time in Peru, because even though it doesn't always feel like it, two years of everydays will go by in the blink of an eye.