Getting our daily sustenance has not been a problem, but we (okay, my mom) have had to tap into our creative juices for the daily meal planning. While many of the same foods we eat in the States are available here, the quality and/or price doesn't always meet our expectations so we're forced to turn to alternatives.
The in-season produce of course is outstanding. Produce stands overflow with mangoes, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, watermelons, papaya, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, green pepper, spinach and oranges. We basically buy as much as we can and then just plan the meals based on what we bring home from the market.
Protein we source from the likes of beans (notwithstanding the tiny bugs we have to pick out before we cook them), grains, cheese and some meat. The red meat here would surely offend my beef buddies' sensibilities as it just that... purely red, no flecks of fat anywhere to be seen. If I was in the market for a nice deep red fabric to upholster my sofa, this beef would be just the thing! But for gastronomic pleasure, I'll have to turn to my good friend the bakery.
There are numerous bakeries which supply ample bread, starch and fried products that keep our simple carb levels high. And did you know, when baked and fried foods are consumed as part of an act of cultural exposure, they have no calories? Uncanny phenomenon, I tell ya. We visit the bakery for loaves of bread, pita bread, samosas and crackers. However, muffins, scones and bear claws we have not found yet, therefore, it's not all roses and diamonds around here.
When it comes to the other staples like milk, pasta, rice, yoghurt, cheese and eggs, we go to Shop Rite which offers good quality, selection and reasonable prices. Thankfully, Roger's key nutrient, peanut butter, is available here in bulk and for cheap so we don't have to worry about him withering away. Once we've made the rounds through town sourcing our various food items (since the Super Target is still under construction we have to go to many locales to stock the pantry), Melba works her magic with a few onions, garlic and bouillon cubes and we have fresh and wholesome meals to sustain us each day.
Of course, eating out is one of life's greatest pleasures and Arusha definitely scores high on that index. With the large tourist and expat population, the gastronomic options seem endless. On any given night we could eat crispy grilled chicken, sushi, European fare, wood burning pizza, Ethiopian and/or Indian food. Before my mom departs, we plan on eating our way through town! Traditional local fare seems to consist of rice, meat and beans cooked together. Roger samples it pretty regularly from a small vendor near the UN, but the rest of us have yet to try it.
So have no fear, our daily nutritional needs are being more than met. In fact we all feel a bit healthier here since we're eating so much fresh and wholesome food (and technically, if it's baked or fried today, it's considered "fresh and wholesome"). And Millie is just counting down the days until she is able to enjoy all the same foods, even if it is pureed.