10 September 2006

So I'm back in this country, which I didn't really want to come back to, and things are plugging along. I have classes. I have an apartment (sort of - long story - but at least I came back to a place to sleep, unlike last year). I have friends, apparently. I miss a lot of people and things in Liberia but I also spend a lot of time going, "FOOD! There is good-tasting FOOD here!" It isn't really that there isn't food or isn't good-tasting food in Liberia so much as that without 24-hour power you can't really store much food and I so couldn't really eat at home and I worked too much to eat anywhere else, especially at the end of my time there. I discovered new things in Liberia about how long I can go without eating, and I'm a little bit alarmed that I am going to implode in a frenzy of excitement here in New York about Italian food and Indian food and Mexican food and, and, and... all of it. If one is going to Liberia, however, here are some things to remember:

  • You actually can live on cream crackers and spreadable cheese (Laughing Cow is the best).
  • Lebanese bread molds after a day or two. Also cheese molds, even if it is in the fridge.
  • Il Gelato has amazing gelato and amazing pasta (although the pasta is only good when warm).
  • Both the Royal and Plaza Pizzeria have great pizza.
  • The fridge and freezer take on a funny smell when they are only on for half the hours in the day.
  • Diana's has the best falafel, but other places will do when you are so hungry that you are about to eat the table.
  • You can only eat oatmeal so many mornings in a row before it makes you gag.
  • The eggs are funny (something to do with being imported - old - from India because all the Liberian commercial egg-laying chickens were killed off when avian flu arrived). Don't bother with omelettes or pancakes unless you are willing to deal with them tasting like old metal about half the time.
  • Liberian food is very tasty, but if you don't eat meat, you will get hungry again in two hours.
I happen to like Liberian food. Almost all of it. Not the clear fish sauce, but everything made with palm oil. I like bitterball. I like all types of greens - collards, potato, cassava leaf. I like palm butter. I like jollof rice. Pretty much just put palm oil in it and I'm going to like it. At a conference, one of my female coworkers looked over my shoulder and said, as I was tucking away a big plate of rice with bitterball soup, "You like our food?" Apparently, yes, because I am enjoyinga great deal of it a great deal. Unfortunately, it is often made with mystery meat, which I do NOT like. So I have to ask for it without the meat, and then it turns into rice and palm oil, basically, and I get hungry again almost immediately.

But anyway. Now I am in New York and overwhelmed with the options. I want to have cupcakes and ice cream and hummus and naan and crepes and frozen coffee drinks and bagels and everything all at once. I'm trying to go slowly. I'm still overly excited right now about baby carrots and Sabra hummus. I'm also overly excited about breakfast cereal with good milk. Like I'm eating the hummus and the cereal three meals a day. I'm sure that will, erm, settle itself soon.

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