Shopping for Groceries on the Road

Have you ever had troubles finding just the right ingredient for making your meal while traveling? Or were you disappointed to learn that a certain fruit or vegetable simply can not be found in a country?

I remember telling a friend here in Peru about the chestnuts that we eat in Switzerland (and the many tasty things you can make with them) in the hope that he knows what it is and where to get it. My mistake was that I translated chestnut from the German "Kastanie" into "castaña". This is correct according to my dictionary but apparently not according to Peruvian Spanish. "Castaña" in Peru refers to brazil nuts which are very different from European chestnuts. And no, there is no place to buy chestnuts in Peru, I'll have to wait until I visit Europe for a taste of Vermicelles or Marroni.

Similarly, when Peruvians refer to lemons they're actually referring to a green lemon that is more similar to what we back home call a lime. Yellow lemons do exist but they are rarely used and it's tricky to find them. Since it's mostly foreigners who are looking for them we usually pass along the word that there are yellow lemons at such-and-such supermarket. Just in case you're craving a piece of homemade Swiss-style lemon cake.

I believe the problem is two-fold. First issue is usually finding the correct translation of an ingredient and the second issue is usually locating it. Sometimes, event with the correct ingredients the taste of the dish will turn out differently as there are variations in flavors due to local climate, geography, etc. Peruvian strawberries don't taste like Swiss strawberries, and the mangos you can buy in Switzerland are never as tasty as the ones you find here in Peru.

In the end, there are two options left. Bring the correct ingredient from home (or have it brought over) or tweak your dish from home and create a new dish. Technique and style from home but with some local flavors. Usually turns out pretty tasty!

Lemon and Lime - Gabriela Neumeier  /


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