Tuesday, July 12, 2005

desert island kitchen

Sometimes I've played a game with my sister, and maybe with others as well, where you list what you would need on a desert island. Mostly we focus on what one spice it would be, if you could have only one. When I've traveled to strange kitchens (beach rentals, mostly) I've always brought a good supply of cooking stuff: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, cinnamon, cumin, garlic...the list goes on.

OK, we're not on a desert island here. But we've also been reluctant to buy up various spices and condiments (especially) since our time here is short and we don't want to be wasteful. This has meant that I've made spaghetti with no spices (thank you, Ragu!), stir fry with sauce from a jar, and tuna casserole with neither a whisk nor a cheese grater, though I still managed to make white sauce and melt cheese into it.

I did buy garlic. And salt. And parmesan cheese (OK, "Italian style cheese"--remember, no cheese grater!). So we've had garlic bread, and been able to doctor up the Ragu.

But what I'm realizing is how ridiculous my desert island choices always were. It was usually basil or cinnamon. I haven't baked here, or even felt like it (again, that has partly to do with the difficulty of buying small enough quantities--and the fact that there are no measuring utensils in my kitchen!). And I'm doing fine without most of the things I think I need desperately at home. In fact, the kids are probably happier that their food isn't all that spiced! (I do get a number of my meals in the college, so I'm not totally bereft of edible food...though college food has its ups and downs, too--perhaps more on that in another post.)

I still may buy basil before we leave. But first I'll have to learn to pronounce it "correctly"--one of our first days here I ordered a basil, mozarella, and tomato sandwich in a cafe, and the proprietor (Indian or Pakistani, in a French-named cafe, for what it's worth) thought I ordered bacon, not basil. "It's ba-a-zill" he corrected me. (No problem with my tomayto instead of tomahto, however...) Ah, English!

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