Nica Recipe: Guacamole Edition

>> Friday, April 25, 2008

Today my classes were canceled in the afternoon, so I decided to be productive and headed to the market after dropping Holly off in the park on her way to school (it turned out her classes were canceled, too, but for a different reason). The best part about going to the market at this time of the year has definitely been the really good avocados and not the stinky fish and meat section which unfortunately never goes out of season. Avocados disappeared right after we moved to Masaya, so we never really had the chance to make guacamole, but I’ve been making up for that in the last month or so ever since they’ve been available in the market.


Tomato (optional)

Egg (optional)

Guacamole by itself isn’t really a Nicaraguan recipe, but everyone here eats it with hard-boiled egg mixed in, so as weird-tasting as it sounds, that's the only change you need to make to create authentic Nica Guacamole.

After scooping out the avocados and cutting up everything else, you should have a pretty full mixing bowl (the avocados were so big that I saved one for future guac).

Finally, mix everything up and you have the finished product—heat up some tortillas, or better yet, buy a couple of hot ones from your neighbor, and enjoy.

Protip: If you put some guacamole on your tortilla and then top it with gallo pinto it’s a pretty great combination.


You Know what Happens when You Assume?

>> Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Like any good armchai—hammock logician, I was brushing up on my logical reasoning when I came across this passage explaining assumptions that made me laugh out loud:

“In our daily lives we make thousands of assumptions, but they make sense because they have context and we have experience with the way the world works. Think for a moment about the many assumptions required during the simple act of ordering a meal oat a restaurant. You assume that: the prices on the menu are correct; the items on the menu are available; the description of the food is reasonably accurate; the waiter will understand what you say when you order; the food will not sicken or kill you; the restaurant will accept your payment, etcetera.”

The author of this book obviously has no experience with the way Nicaragua works:

  1. The prices on the menu are correct: Paul and I quickly learned that the adage “the customer is always right” simply does not exist here, and restaurants can raise their prices at will. The most notorious example happened at the worst restaurant in Nicaragua (if not in the western hemisphere), Hippos, where the explanation for all the prices being wrong was that the prices were for the small sizes (the only price listed on the menu) and that “the whole world knows that at Hippos you get Hippo-sized food.” It goes without saying that we ultimately had to pay the hippo-sized bill on our peanut-sized budget.
  2. The items on the menu are available: This happens far too frequently to be able to come up with a single illustrative example. It’s a pretty safe bet that any restaurant you visit could easily be out of your top three choices of things you’d like to eat.
  3. The description of the food is reasonably accurate: Examples here include the Vegetarian menu at Hippos listing steak, ribs, chicken breast, and a burger. Also at one of Masaya’s best pizza restaurants, the “pineapple” pizza includes both pineapple and bologna. Even after confirming repeatedly that the pineapple pizza doesn’t have meat on it, we had pineapple and bologna pizza smiling up at us from our plates.
  4. The waiter will understand what you say when you order: Yeah, right.
  5. The food will not sicken or kill you: At most restaurants, the opposite assumption is probably safer. Even at restaurants that you think you can trust, you never really know: Paul’s current bacterial infection and stomach parasites definitely cast doubt on the safeness of his favorite previously trusted Chinese restaurant.
  6. The restaurant will accept your payment: This is probably one of the worst assumptions to make. Hardly any businesses (restaurants, supermarkets, etc.) accept credit or debit cards, and there are also strict rules about cash. First, you can’t pay with bills that are too big—a server will undoubtedly ask, “¿No andas sencillo?” (Don’t you have change?) if you pay with a $500 córdoba bill. Our corner Eskimo ice cream shop is perhaps the worst at this as they become downright hostile if we need change. Many businesses don’t keep any change, so if you can’t pay exactly, you just can’t buy anything.
Similarly, you can’t pay with change that’s too small. One córdoba coins and sometimes 50 cent coins are accepted, but anything smaller will be met with “no acceptamos.” Once a beggar girl asked Paul for money, and he only had some change to give her. She gave him a dirty look and threw the change to the ground as we walked away.

Dollar bills are, of course, always accepted, but coins are another story. Phone cards here are priced in dollars, and Paul once tried to buy a $1.50 phone card using a dollar bill and two quarters. The saleslady looked at him like he was trying to pay with buttons and he got the always-popular “no acceptamos.”


Get a room!

>> Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm sitting in the cyber cafe with Dora after a long walk providing a good example of what is good about having a puppy here. Basically anywhere you want to go, you can just take the dog inside with you. Also good is that you come in contact with so many people that want to pet your dog s/he becomes well socialized.

The bad part, though, is that Dora and little girls have a super strong magnetic attraction that cannot be broken by anything short of a live band (Dora's least favorite sound in the world). As soon as Dora spotted the 1-year-old daughter of the owner walking around her tail started going WHAP WHAP WHAP against the chair and there was no stopping their love from blossoming. The girl wobbled over and I'm pretty sure if she had a tail it would have been wagging even faster than Dora's. Eventually her dad pulled her away but it was only a few minutes before she staggered back to yell "Wow wow! Wow wow!"(woof woof).

Oh well, I'm running out of time at the cyber so this love story will have to continue another time. Besides, I'm sure that on the walk home there will be several more acceptable little girl suitors for Dora to entertain.


Dust Bunnies

>> Thursday, April 03, 2008

I never before knew that dust bunnies reproduced like... well, you know, rabbits. We put up a plastic sheet over our bed to protect us, but we had no idea it would get this bad. This is what has accumulated since January sometime.
Edit: No, we don't sleep right under the plastic sheet. This plastic sheet is mounted on top of our mosquito net, so the plastic sheet is a few feet above our heads. All the dust comes from the ceiling (tin and wood) and blows in through the cutouts in the cement blocks that make our house.


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