Since Ryan and I moved to Ecuador, it’s been surprisingly difficult to find food. This sounds worse than it actually is because it’s fun and easy to go out to eat and the food is fantastic. But if we don’t want to eat out three meals a day, which seriously decreases our productivity and generally raises our costs, we’ve got a small problem. Our apartment doesn’t have an oven or a microwave. Instead, there are two gas burners. Snack food does not seem like a big thing here and is very expensive. Forget canned soup ever existed. Bakery bread is fabulous but shouldn’t be eaten by itself all day long. Going into grocery stores, with their endless Spanish labels, makes me feel like an alien. The meat markets still scare me, with flies buzzing around the swinging slabs of meat and the pig heads. I could grill chicken but I am not ready to buy a whole chicken and remove the breasts myself. Eggs and milk are not refrigerated here. Fresh produce doesn’t last long. The leafy greens are too cold in our mini fridge and too hot left out on the counter. Within a day or two they begin to look fairly pathetic and dead regardless of how they’ve been stored. Lastly, eating only white rice or beans depresses me greatly.
Our solution turned out to be a ten day liquid diet challenge inspired by the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” Although fruits and leafy greens don’t last long, they are very healthy, inexpensive and readily available. Somehow, Ryan was able to fit a Ninja blender into his only suitcase. Don’t ask me how he did it but I am very happy that he did, although originally I looked at him and said, “Seriously, if you want to give me crap about bringing a Snuggie, let’s talk about your blender.” We are currently blending a variety of produce, mostly veggies, and drinking them throughout the day. This is all we get. Endless veggies and fruits in liquid form. We go to the market about every other day and return with bundles of health that ultimately taste like zesty grass.
People who know me will no doubt be shocked by this news, as this is not this farm-girl’s style. Remember, we are from Wyoming people. We love our meat and potatoes. Ryan once went on a bacon-only diet, eating a package of bacon every day for three weeks. Simply put, without protein, I panic. But surprisingly, I’m feeling pretty good on this liquid diet. My energy and cognitive levels are fine. The drinks fill me up and I’m not having the digestive side-effects that I’d anticipated. For about $3.10 a day total for both Ryan and I, we are provided all the sustenance that we seem to require.
Fantastic, but for us, this will not be a long-term solution. I’m already beginning to dream about chicken parmesan and Summer Sausage. However, this trial has paved the way for what might be a perfect solution during our remaining time here in Ecuador. The biggest meal of the day in Cuenca is lunch. Lunchtime is also the best time to eat out, as the choices are endless and the prices are extremely reasonable. Most restaurants offer an “almuerzo” which is like an ever-changing lunch special. For $1.50-3, you can get all of the following: a glass of fresh squeezed juice, a soup, an entree often consisting of a meat and rice combination, and a small custard-like dessert. The portion sizes are small and the food is excellent. In five days, when we’ve finished our ten day challenge, we are going to go out for one meal a day which will be lunch. The other meals, we will continue to supplement with the liquid diet of leafy greens and fruits. A glass of grass. That being said, I’m not going to lie. I’m REALLY looking forward to my next almuerzo.