Tuesday, September 6, 2011


If you asked me my ten favorite things, five of those things would center around food: cooking healthy food, grocery shopping, drinking coffee and wine, talking about how food can change your life.  Hence the reason I want to share our food experience with you. I love whole foods - vegetables, grains and fruits.  I also enjoy a good tortilla or scoop of gelato - I can't help it. The past eight months, John and I have enjoyed fresh vegetable made-at-home green juices everyday. (I'm a huge Kris Carr fan who is a champion of the green juice.)

I came to South America with packets of Field of Greens Raw Food to meet my daily vegetable needs and to keep my pH in check. I also looked forward to eating standard Argentine cuisine - steak and wine.  We ate out the first two weeks we were here, and I met my steak threshold quickly.  I've since returned to a mostly vegetarian diet.

Before we arrived, I had quaint notions of life in Mendoza - sitting on our porch, sipping coffee, gazing at the mountains and vineyards. Well ... I can sort of see the top of the mountains from our balcony. And the vineyards... we're going on a wine tour later this month. Another notion was buying bread from a bakery, meat from a butcher, and vegetables from a small market.   The day we moved into our apartment, our landlord pointed out a large supermarket two blocks away, which we went to the same day.  So much for buying groceries at small mom and pop shops.

Every night we walk home from our workout at the park, and it has become one of my favorite routines - walking home, endorphins flowing after a run, talking about life or what we're going to have for dinner. As we walked home from the park last Tuesday, we couldn't resist the aroma of bread and sweets from a bakery we pass every night.  We gave in and bought some bread and cookies, and wondered why we hadn't been buying bread at the bakery all along.  Since our Tuesday night epiphany, we've purchased all our food from small shops, and we haven't been back to the big supermarket again.

Lining the major street near our apartment are several small stores that sell produce and other items.  My favorite is Verduleria y Fruteria Selena. The shop receives produce daily from a cooperative about 15 kilometers away.  I love shopping there. I can buy two big bags of produce for $5. The other day the total was $4.80, and the young man working there threw in another orange to make it an even $5.

Overview of what & where we've been eating
Week #1: Santiago & Mendoza
Coffee, pasta, a steak for John, one vegetarian restaurant, bread, limited vegetables.

Week #2: Mendoza
Cafe con leche & toast, happily located a few vegetarian restaurants and a salad bar, another steak, more coffee, empanadas, but still no kale, avocado, tortillas or broccoli. A wonderful dinner of thick lentil soup, bread and wine at a friend's house.

Week 3: Apartment in Mendoza
Cafe, oatmeal. Big pot of black beans and brown rice for me; arroz con pollo for John. Enjoyed a traditional asado (BBQ) with the running group.

Week 4:
More cafe, fruit and oatmeal. John makes breakfast tacos so he won't starve while in class from 9 -1. Huge lunches of rice, beans and spinach with tortillas, which I finally found in the market.  Wine and salad with steamed broccoli for dinner. Discovered dulce de leche. Uh oh. 
Traditional asado - note the huge built-in grill. People bring their own plates + utensils, some of which were brought in specially-made leather carrying cases. 
We thought this would last us the whole three months we'll be here. It lasted a week! It sort of takes the place of almond or peanut butter which is not sold in stores.