The milk in Central America, and other ways we eat differently

The produce market

The produce market

Mark and I eat differently since moving to  Central America.  I think most of the changes are  for the better. (Although, switching to the local-ish box wine is one that might be hard to defend. Instead of calling it by its name, “Clos”, expats here call it “Close”. As in “Close to wine”. But they still drink it. )   Our primary beverage is water (filtered and boiled, not steps most of our neighbors take), we shop daily, don’t buy pre-made foods at the grocery stores, use dried beans and fresh tomatoes rather than canned, get our fish from the back of a red pickup truck (last week we paid $10 for 2.5 pounds of fresh tuna!), and our veggies from the local “mercado” rather than a modern grocery store.

We usually buy our tomatoes from the lady who has the area on the end. I'm puzzled by the fact that the ones she keeps up on the counter are usually so-so at best, but when she sees me, she pulls me into the back of the booth, so I can select from the freshest and nicest ones.

We usually buy our tomatoes from the lady who has the area on the end. I’m puzzled by the fact that the ones she keeps up on the counter are usually so-so at best, but when she sees me, she pulls me into the back of the booth, so I can select from the freshest and nicest ones.

This woman has the largest stall, with all the ingredients for a typical US salad, plus lots of extras

This woman has the largest stall, with all the ingredients for a typical US salad, plus lots of extras

I’m able to get many herbs from our garden, which is wonderful, and instead of using packaged, low sodium chicken broth, I make it from powder, which is probably not that great for us. It’s a good thing that exercise lowers the blood pressure, because I’m pretty sure one serving of this puts us WAY above the USDA recommended daily allowance of sodium!

The local chicken broth, nothing low sodium here!

The local chicken broth, nothing low sodium here!

Part of the herb garden. Here, we have parsley, rosemary and 2 kinds of oregano.

Part of the herb garden. Here, we have parsley, rosemary and 2 kinds of oregano.

We also drink  Ultra High Temperature (UHT, otherwise known as boxed)  milk , rather than the refrigerated kind, because  1) the refrigerated kind isn’t always available; and 2) with the power outages and labor management here,  I don’t have great confidence that the refrigerated kind is indeed always refrigerated.

From what I’ve read (Wikipedia and http://www.vagabondjourney.com/what-is-uht-milk/), Europe and South America consume more UHT milk than the  “regular”, refrigerated kind. People seem to be split over whether it tastes the same, better, or not as good. I’ve noticed a very slight difference in taste, but wow — look at the difference in color!

Yes, that's a rum highball glass that I have our milk in - Ron Abuelo, the national rum. I put the label on it to accentuate the lovely ivory color

Yes, that’s a cocktail glass that I have our milk in – Ron Abuelo, the national rum. I put the label on it to accentuate the lovely ivory color

I’ve never seen such a dramatic variance from white before. Not too appealing to look at, is it? Originally I thought it was the the “active fiber” ingredient of this .5% milk that’s making it more of an ivory color than white, although I never noticed a difference in refrigerated milk that has probiotics added.

However, as it turns out, that’s not the case. According to Wilkapedia, the change in color is a result of the Maillard effect, the same thing that impacts the color of toasted bread, french fries, beer and maple syrup.( It doesn’t always occur though, which I find odd). But, as long as the milk in my coffee doesn’t TASTE like toasted bread, french fries or beer, I don’t have an issue with it. And if there were a little maple flavor in there? I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with that. 🙂

 

 

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