Every kind of move requires a change in mindset. An adjustment period, so to speak. Moving from Victoria to Ottawa required me to adjust to the idea of walking down a busy street or through a crowded mall and not knowing one person. Or having gone to school with their sister. Moving from living with my roomie to living on my own required me to accept the fact that I could, actually, spend an entire evening watching episode after episode of Felicity and not feel the slightest amount of guilt for doing so while there were dirty dishes in the sink. Not that my roomie was a guilt-tripping type, but I was fairly good at guilt-tripping myself. I could also eat ice cream at 2:00 a.m. and no one was around to judge me for it. I never actually did this...but I remember marvelling at the thought that I could. Damn you, guilty conscience. Moving from my own apartment into a house with Kurt required me to realize that I can actually function while only using half of the cupboard space in the bathroom.

Moving to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean has required more adjustment than any of my previous moves. Yes, I went swimming today - in the ocean - on November 25th. There's one mindset I don't mind getting my head around. OK...I have a palm tree outside my front door. I don't mind that either. They drive on the wrong side of the road - this one still gets to me a bit. But the worst one by far is the fact that groceries are never, ever a sure thing.

In the height of my suburban Ottawa life, I enjoyed the many luxuries that come along with being surrounded by a number of clean, well-stocked, well-lit, gigantic grocery stores. I had my favorites - choices based not on the availability of certain items, but the quality of said items. I could get my olives here...or I could drive just a little further down the road and get the really good olives over there. I preferred one store over the others because they arranged their fruit and vegetables symmetrically and they always seemed to be shining. Maybe it was the wax coating, or the light reflecting off of crystalized pesticides...but I liked it. No matter where I went, I knew that I could always find an eggplant, a can of chipotles, pita bread...whatever I wanted.

This is no longer the case.

It's not even remotely the case.

I feel as though I am participating in some sort of treasure hunt where the only prize is spending far more money to settle for something that is not quite what I am looking for. Like spending $8.99 for a jar of peanuts, when what I really wanted was natural peanut butter. And then having to grind them yourself. Which I may or may not have done last week.

Like most weekends, I decided to make a big pot of soup today. I'd picked my recipe on Saturday, based on what appeared to be readily available in the local grocery stores - sweet potatoes, red peppers, garlic. I made a list and went out yesterday to the pinnacle of fine local shopping to gather my ingredients. What a bust. Sweet potatoes, previously available in abundance from any local produce merchant, were mysteriously missing from the aisles of this fine establishment. And when I say fine, I mean Godiva chocolate and artisan sea salts fine.

So, on we went to two other places. Both were well stocked with various other types of potatoes, but absolutely no sweet potatoes. I should mention here that one of them displays its produce on what appear to be a bookshelf, under a shelf of salted cod. I had already purchased the other ingredients for the soup...I was desperate. After our ocean swim, we headed to one final grocery store in the hopes of success. And this is what we found:

It was in the right area for sweet potatoes, in betwen regular potatoes and those things that I don't have a clue of what to do with....they look like brown roots, coated with wax...? Anyways, it looked like the right place. But it did not look like a sweet potato at all. First of all, it was huge. To exemplify the size, I posed it next to the recently deceased Sony Ericsson (R.I.P.):

Gigantic. The thing weighed over three pounds. Secondly, it wasn't the right color. It was under the sign for sweet potatoes, and it was in the right colour family, but I wasn't positive. But, given the need to use the other veggies I'd bought (at great expense, assuming that this wouldn't be an issue), I figured that desperate times call for desperate measures and we bought it. At $2.79/lb. The recipe called for a 45 minute roasting time...this took twice that, and it was cut in half.

This wasn't the first time that we've driven pretty much end to end of the island, looking for an ingredient that we probably used to have backed up stock of in our cupboards. It is true that it's easier to see what's in the stores and then plan your meals, since you never know what you will or will not find. The most readily available ingredients back home become hot commodities the second a ship is late, and some things are just not around at all. Luckily, we've found most of what we've needed and actually found some decent substitutions. There are a lot of things here that we can't get in Canada, which is always neat. Like Oh's! cereal, which I looooved as a kid, but isn't sold in Canada anymore. The fact that it's on the shelves here is a small miracle, though all the Spanish on the box makes me think that it may have been destined for Mexico and took a wrong turn. Lucky for me.

Another new find is Bare Fruit, which is exactly that...baked fruit, sold in bags like chips, with only "organic apples" or "organic cherries" listed under ingredients. Delish.

Back to the mutant potato. It was delicious.

And, it was most definitely a sweet potato.

By the way, I highly recommend the recipe on page 121 of rebar cookbook. Wow.


Anonymous said...

I've always found cooking to be the hardest thing to do in another county. 5 years on, I'm still getting used to the challenges of cooking in Scotland. If there's anything you need that I can post, just let me know! (Sweet potatoes excluded. I'd hate to think what the postage would be on those.)


Lisa said...

ahh nothing like Felicity and a big bowl of sweet potato soup. even though Ben's a twat, i'd still choose him over Noel.

ps i actually thought of you today as i started my annual watching of the entire sex and the city series on dvd. i'm on season 4. oh aidan... she'll never love you enough. sigh. it's funny i've seen the show a billion times yet somehow it still entertains me on a cold winter's evening.

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