Thursday, November 17, 2011

What’s for Dinner?

Please forgive the tone of this post.  I’m writing in the midst of the struggle.  Although by faith I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, right now I’m having some difficulty seeing it.  <hopeful smile>

There is a bit of heaven here in this mission community—especially the way families eagerly sign up to cover the first three days worth of meals for new arrivals to Ukarumpa.  With all the unpacking, settling in and finding your way around the center, it’s very nice not to have to concern yourself with cooking.  But when you’ve arrived on a Friday and the store is closed till Monday, and McDonalds is just a mirage from another life, the “meal list” is pure necessity.

But now the honeymoon is over and I’m struggling to make three meals a day for this family.  This ought to be old hat by now.  I mean, I have lived in PNG for 5 years already.  And I really didn’t even take advantage of all the convenient and microwaveable foods available when we were in the States.  I guess I just wasn’t prepared for the changes that have taken place in the food department of PNG during the past three years.

Yes, I knew prices were high, but $15 for a chicken!  I haven’t even seen the prices for beef yet, because the store hasn’t had any since we arrived.  And what do we eat for breakfast when cereal is over $9 a box, eggs are $7/dozen and oatmeal can’t be found?  The answer is bananas and toast (if I remembered to make bread the day before.)

My whole day seems consumed by planning and preparing the next meal.  Jon tells me to keep it simple.  But what does that mean?  Carrot sticks aren’t even simple when you have to be at the market between 6:00 and 7:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday or Friday to buy them.  Wash them in a water and bleach solution.  Pare them without the aid of a decent vegetable peeler, and slice them with the equivalent of a butter knife.  (I’m serious…the house we’re living in did not have a single sharp knife—not even a dull, sharp knife.  I shudder to think what I’d be doing if I hadn’t brought my own from home!)

I wonder how long the kids will accept my suggestion of “have a banana” for a midday snack?

But I truly do thank God for the market where the local people sell their garden produce three mornings a week. I can find just about any type of vegetable there and many tropical fruits. Prices are pretty good—comparable to your home-town grocery store. So let us eat fresh veggies, and roasted veggies and minestrone soup, beans, and more beans, and for dessert…bananas.

The upside…maybe in three years I’ll be thinner and healthier.  Or maybe I’ll just resemble that banana.  <grin>


Sara said...

Thank you for sharing this!! I anticipate this a struggle for myself (feeding and preparing meals for a family of six). Are there dry beans available there when others sources of protein are limited??

Jon and Missy Damon said...

Sara, I've only been here in Ukarumpa for a week and thus far, I've only seen split peas in the store. Fortunately, the local people sell black, white and red beans at the market for a good price. They are raw (not dried) so they don't require soaking. Just cook and use! I've been cooking and freezing them in 2 cup quantities for future use.

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