So if you’ve seen photos of my house here, you may have noticed the lack of a fridge. Nope, not even a mini-fridge. In other words, my kitchen is less well-furnished than most college dorm rooms. It also uses a lot less electricity…part of the reason why I haven’t invested in something I’d previous taken for granted is that I pay for electricity apart from my rent and I’m just cheap. (In my defense, my Q800 monthly rent – a whopping $100 – is quite a drain on my meager paycheck!) Fridges themselves are also kind of expensive.
But honestly, although my parents cannot comprehend why their spoiled child would choose to live without this marker of civilized life, I really just don't need it. My host family had a refrigerator and I barely ever used it. It would be really awesome to have a place to store cheese (I love the expensive “Swiss” cheese from Nebaj and maybe sometimes I find myself daydreaming about cream cheese…totally normal…), but that’s really the only thing I miss. I drink powdered milk, cook small portions, go market shopping frequently enough and buy only what I need, and being 2 hours from the closest supermarket kind of limits bringing back perishable foods that might just perish on the journey home. I’ve also learned quite a bit in my situation, such as:
Eggs do not need to be refrigerated. I’m not sure how long they last, but all the stores have stacks of cartons of them, so I’m assuming a while.
Broccoli starts turning an…interesting…yellow after being left at room temperature for more than a couple of days.
Once opened, homemade jam will last 1-2 weeks outside of a fridge before the inevitable mold starts to grow.
Unrefrigerated left-overs must be re-cooked over high heat for 3-4 minutes. If not, you run the risk of allowing the bacteria that naturally grows on cooked foods (but not on unnaturally chilled foods) to do some funky things to your stomach. I didn’t know this at first and just thought my newfound addiction to lentils was taking its toll on my body; my health-worker sitemates soon clarified the issue lol. Luckily I don’t cook meat, so I think I’m safe from food poisoning. Even so, the re-heating thing is kind of a bitch because you unwillingly end up frying your left-overs. That’s fine for say, tonight’s fried rice that could potentially benefit from some more frying to be eaten for lunch tomorrow. Pasta, however, is a very different story!
Anyway, I’m not complaining; it’s just something I’ve been thinking about lately and I figured life without a refrigerator was probably a foreign concept (haha!) to most of you. My sitemate Melissa lives 2 blocks away from me and I could always use her fridge. And I’ve been told that placing a smaller clay pot within a larger one, filling the space between them with sand, and always keeping the sand wet serves the same role of keeping food chilled. I still have to try that one out and then maybe I can start stocking up on cream cheese!
I clearly don’t have much going on right now if this is the most pressing topic for a life update lol. (Then again, food has always been a central theme in my mind.) Work’s been its usual off and on…I actually had a surprisingly good turnout at a meeting yesterday about how to do a market study, I planted an herb garden with a women’s group last week, and tomorrow I’ll be making cucumber salad with my school group. I may soon have a new women’s group to do cooking classes/demonstrations with, and Stephen and I are starting to plan potential SPA (Small Project Assistance? USAID-funded) projects with our green-bean growing groups. And really, the non-busy days are also pretty great for Foreign Service studying – I’m all registered to take the test in Guate on October 4th! My social life has been far more fun: the weekend at the lake with my sitemates was such a fantastic time (plus I got to restock my coffers of American foodstuffs!) and the weekend after was equally great with a classy jazz benefit concert in Antigua with my friend Allie, where we were hanging out for a GAD meeting :) Now I just need to get through the rest of the week and we’re off to Xela for the weekend, to celebrate Melissa’s birthday in style at the famed Xocomil waterpark! (probably in the rain, but we’ll already be wet, right?)
I’m going to forgo photos this time as all my new ones are on facebook, and instead leave you to ponder what your life would be like without a refrigerator. Could you do it?? Haha please don’t think too hard about it; you’ll probably never be in my situation!