Sunday, July 31, 2011


A couple weekends ago, we took a long, hot, uphill trek to America's Favorites food store, an income-generation project by a missionary couple who also run their own printing business here on the outskirts of Tirana. I was looking for oatmeal and mac-and-cheese, but also interested in seeing what else they might have that I would like to get but isn't available here. They were out of mac-and-cheese but I scored some delicious 5-minute oatmeal which I used the last of today - I'm going to have to go back sometime this week and get more, because the kids love it too. People here don't eat oatmeal because it's considered horse food. Imagine if someone told you they like alfalfa for breakfast!

I also bought a big bottle of vanilla flavoring, and double-strength baking powder, because in the grocery stores here I've only seen baking soda (not powder) and the vanilla flavoring is in tiny little ampules and doesn't even really taste like vanilla.

I also bought a huge box of Cheerios for about 8 US$... a quick google search suggests that the same size box would probably retail for about $3 in the US. So, expensive Cheerios. And even though we have a handy little snack cup with a lid that reduces spills... well, reduces isn't the same as eliminates, and I was suddenly remembering the thick Cheerio carpet that ossified on the floor of our car and under V's carseat in the States. So I've been a little obsessive-compulsive following the kids around picking up Cheerios as they drop them, and depending on the relative cleanliness of the surface they fell on, either putting them back in the cup or eating them myself. They're just such a handy, easy, perfect toddler snack, and the honey-nut variety you can get here just aren't the same - a lot more sugar, for one thing, and also harder to chew for some reason.

So, all this to say that when I came across this blog post from "Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like," I just had to laugh at myself: "Expat aid workers like food. More specifically, they like talking about all the trouble they go through to get it. Items that had very little value in their pre-EAW life now get elevated to the same level of importance as, for example, oxygen. Get a few EAWs together and sooner or later the conversation will migrate to cereal."

Touché, mon ami; touché.

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