How I know I’m not in the States anymore.

14 01 2008

What torture it was to open my eyes this morning. I can’t tell if the sleepiness I’m feeling is due to jet lag or to my actual trip yesterday; moving from place to place certainly takes it out of me. Whatever the case may be, the last thing I wanted to do was wake up this morning. So I didn’t, and stayed asleep until 12:30. This was the absolute latest I could sleep because, even though I thought I could pull off not taking a shower, the moment I saw my reflection in the mirror with my hair sticking out at impossible angles from my head, I knew I needed to wash it. I hopped in the shower and barely made it up the hill to meet my girlfriends for our bi-annual post-holiday welcome back lunch. My head was still wet from the shower and even though it’s summer here, the weather is more like spring. Rain, overcast, even chilly. Dennis’ mother would never have let me out of the house on a day like today with wet hair, especially since I’m nowhere near recovered from my cold, and now, four hours after leaving the house, I’m all stuffed up again and want to go to sleep.

But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing today because, after lunch, I went grocery shopping. I took to heart a lot of the ideas you all gave me for healthy things to eat and filled my basket with great foods: green beans, tomatoes, beets, avocados, lettuce, bread, roast beef, and sesame seeds. Perusing the canned vegetable aisle, looking for canned beans (which don’t exist because I live in THE LAND OF BEANS which means people know how to cook them so they don’t need the canned ones) I came upon a jackpot. The gold at the end of the canned food rainbow. I came across, drum roll please, Mexican food. Taco shells, fajita spices, jalapenos, real flour tortillas and real salsa. (As real as it gets in a jar in Brazil. The thing that made me believe it was real salsa and not Lipton tomato soup like they have here at restaurants was the fact that the label was printed entirely in English. Ha ha! Imported salsa from the US! Nice.) Seizing the opportunity to bring the taste of Mexico (Americanized Mexico, I know) back to my apartment, I grabbed the tortillas, jalapenos, and the hot salsa. I imagined an excellent feast at home, so I ran back to get guacamole ingredients and headed for the check-out, energized and thinking I was a smart girl for making this food at home instead of going out to dinner. You know, save a few bucks here and there.

But I should have known better. Standing at the register while the woman rang up my purchases, mostly vegetables and some other cheap items, I couldn’t figure out why the whole bill came to over R$100. Unless I had mistaken a green pepper for a pair of jeans, I couldn’t understand what it was that cost so much. And then I asked.

FLOUR TORTILLAS: R$20.59

SALSA: R$17.99 

JALAPENOS: R$11.99

FAJITA SPICES: R$6.99

Anything imported costs a fortune. I don’t know why I didn’t bother looking at the price before I threw the items into my basket. I spent the equivalent of twenty-six US dollars on ingredients for burritos.  Torn between saving money and eating Mexican food the way I want it, I handed the woman my credit card and hung my head in shame. (I also didn’t want to go through the process of getting her to remove the items, since the last time I did that it was a twenty-minute process filled with a lot of weird looks from the lazy-eyed cashier (weird looks not because she had a lazy eye but because she looked at me like I had one) and embarrassment on my part while the line behind me grew until it wrapped clear around the cheese section, way back in the corner of the store.)

I don’t regret the purchase. I’m desperate for Mexican food and am wary of ordering it at restaurants because they just don’t understand the cuisine here. But for what I paid today, it would have been cheaper for me to go out for a meal. There’s a good place around the corner and I think that’s where I’ll go the next time I have a craving. For now, though, I’m going to curl myself up in front of the TV, pop on an episode of Sex and the City, and enjoy those tortillas like they’re made of gold. Maybe the hot salsa will help clear up my sinuses.


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7 responses

14 01 2008
Jennie

$26 for burritos? Crazy! No wonder you were living on popcorn.

14 01 2008
ginacoggio

The thing is, lots of things are cheap here. They just involve cooking, unless I’m on a raw diet.

14 01 2008
Susan

Yikes! So sorry it cost so much..hope they tasted divine though. I thought later after posting the dip suggested…my husband and I make quesadillas often. Veggie ones, leftover chicken and cheese ones,…anything can make a quesadilla. Jennie is right..no wonder you were living off popcorn and soup. Why do I keep . . . everything? Haha!

14 01 2008
ginacoggio

You know, I bought all the ingredients for some great quesadillas EXCEPT for the cheese. Well, I did buy cheese, but I bought chevre, which ran me another R$11, but that’s to be expected since really delicious cheese costs a lot no matter where you are. So I’ll have to wait at least a day to make some good ones. And also…? I tasted those flour tortillas. Let me tell you, they are definitely not worth R$20. Bummer. But at least I have them and can do something with them.

15 01 2008
Jennie

I have an easy meal for you – margarita pizza. Do you have access to cheap pizza crusts? I bought a thin crust one at the grocery store last night. Brushed a small amount of olive oil on it. Then added cheese (I used Monterey Jack because it’s what I had), sliced Roma tomatoes, basil (I used dried because I didn’t have fresh), salt, & pepper. Pop it in the oven turned up really high (450 or so) for 10-12 minutes, and dinner is served. It was so good…my husband and I both loved it. Cheap and easy and delicious.

15 01 2008
ginacoggio

Excellent! And those ingredients are definitely cheap. We even have mini pizza crusts here that I’ve used before, so this is definitely a do-able recipe! Thanks!

15 01 2008
Susan

Wooo definitely try Jennie’s idea! I love that kind of cheap homemade pizza..Richard and I do that all the time. Yum!

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