Imagine that you absolutely cannot live without peanut butter and then one day, in the middle of your pregnant cravings, you find yourself in a place where they don’t know of its existence. What a horrific thing to imagine, right?
Well, for us who currently live in a foreign country, there are many things that we can’t find anywhere and when the craving hits, we just have to endure it.
Luckily, I’m not superstitious, because according to my husband’s Lebanese traditions, if a pregnant lady doesn’t satisfy her cravings, the unborn child will be born with a birth mark in the shape of the foods she wanted and couldn’t get. Imagine? My poor child will be covered with marks of tacos al pastor, tortas ahogadas, churros filled with cajeta… well, the list goes on and on.
I can’t complain that much really, because thanks to the increase in the Hispanic population over the last decade, many Mexican and other Latin American convenience stores have opened in town. Even though I cannot find absolutely everything I crave, I can give my belly some indulgence by shopping in such stores. There is even a section in the main super market chain that carries certain products that not only are delicious, but that carry with them a taste of home.
The problem is when you really want some dish that you can’t find a certain type of pepper for or when you have no idea what is the equivalent of the cut of meat that your Mexican recipe calls for. It is then when one turns to piracy. Yes, one attempts to make something like the original recipe without the original ingredients and the result is often a pirate version of the original dish.
Can’t I just go out to a Mexican restaurant in town? Well, the thing is that the majority are pirates too or they sell the Americanized version of the food. Go to Mexico and ask any person where to find a hard shell taco. They are going to ask all confused: Do you want a taco on a sea shell? The whole hard “tortilla shell”, ground beef, lettuce, tomato and sour cream on a taco is American. I get that Taco Bell sells that, but when I go to a Mexican restaurant that claims to be “authentic” I expect my tacos to come in a tortilla (no need to specify if it’s hard or soft, because all tortillas are soft), with chopped and grilled meat, accompanied by cilantro, chopped onion and preferably tomatillo sauce (Yum!).
Living abroad comes with many prices, missing the food that you grew up with is only one of them. The good thing is that when you finally travel back and eat at home, EVERYTHING tastes like heaven.
I hope my turn comes soon!