Same But Different

Since moving here, I’ve had to find a few food alternatives for some of my recipes, because certain ingredients just aren’t available here, or at least not easily available. I’m usually fine with this, but there are a few ingredients of which I just can’t help but prefer the American version. Today has been a study in adjusting and not adjusting.

First off, this morning I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Merian was coming over to help me with some tax-office stuff — more about that later — so I figured the least I could do was offer some homemade cookies to accompany her coffee. That said, you can’t really buy chocolate chips here. All sorts of other chocolate stuff, but not the semi-sweet morsels so common in the US. No big deal, though. This is an easy cooking dilemma to fix. Just get some of the lekker (tasty) chocolate bars they sell here and chop them up! I went with the dark chocolate with bits of orange that I had on hand. I like a small square for my dessert in the evening. The cookies turned out quite well and Merian seemed to really enjoy them. Just as well. It meant I could send off the bulk of the batch with her so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat them all.

My second round of cooking today represents the other end of the ingredient spectrum. A good ol’ pot of chili is easy enough to make, even here, but I’ve discovered that the Dutch chili powder doesn’t taste at all like the stuff I’m used to in the US. On one hand, it’s not that big a deal; you still get a nice bowl of food. On the other hand, sometimes I just really want that specific chili flavor that I know so well. I had my mum send me some last year, but I’ve used up the last of it today. Sadly, I don’t think I really had enough to properly flavor it, particularly since I used a can of the “chili” kidney beans they sell here. They’re already seasoned and I think they were a bit more powerful than my small bit of Harris Teeter-brand chili powder could handle. Oh well, another jar of chili powder should be winging its way to me soon enough.

Generally, I try to just adjust to not having certain items and just get used to what I do have on hand. I enjoy finding alternatives or hunting down harder-to-find ingredients here in town. I even make my own ranch dressing these days and have gotten used to the slight taste differences in the peanut butter and the Coke. Since this is my home now, I don’t want to be one of those annoying expats always whinging about how things are different/not as good here. So I adjust. But if I can get chili powder sent to me regularly, I’ll be a very happy expat. Surely, I’m allowed to miss one little thing. 😉