I always thought food was something only little kids at VBS are curious about, but turns out most everyone who has inquired about my life here in Nepal has expressed interest in knowing what we eat here, how we eat it, and how we like it!
I don’t know why I’m surprised by these inquiries. Food is a big part of our lives and influences so much of our day as well as social activities. Common Nepali greetings include, “Have you eaten?” “Did you drink tea?” etc. and you can always find groups of Nepalis huddled together drinking tea or passing around a plate of snacks.
Though Nepali snacks and sweets just aren’t up to my standards, I do love me some Nepali savory foods.
Generally, Nepalis eat two large meals a day generally consisting of a combination of veggies, rice, and lentils and typically only eat meat on special occasions when it is served as a side dish (I’d like to think we Americans have the right idea of this one!). They also have tea and snacks twice a day with a small meal in between should hunger strike. If they’re anything like me that would be every day.
While I do enjoy this traditional Nepali meal, there is no way in this world I could eat it twice a day (though this will probably change)! In fact, once or twice a week is good for me.
The rest of the week we enjoy meals like tacos, chili, Shepherd’s pie (not bubby’s as Jo thinks), and fried rice, to name a few family favorites. 4 nights a week, we have a young Nepali man eat dinner with us. He is getting used to our food but prefers Nepali food. I try to spice up our favorite dishes to appease him. My kids are not impressed.
Nepali milk tea which is sometimes sweet and sometimes a little spicy was definitely an acquired taste for us. But now that we’ve acquired it, there’s no going back! I imagine we will be cooking up some chiya when we are back in America just to take us back to Nepal one delicious moment at a time. Still trying to figure out why we haven’t adopted a tea time in America. I love the structure and social opportunities it brings to each day! Not to mention, it’s delicious and extremely comforting and doesn’t betray me like high-caff coffee tends to do.
Other acquired tastes have been momos, paneer, beaten rice (which we absolutely hated and now prefer over cooked rice), and puffed rice. Beaten rice and puffed rice (basically non-crisp Rice Krispies) are often eaten with vegetable- or chicken-curry which I would have gagged over just thinking about before and now DROOL over. What in the world has happened to me? And the better question is, why am I writing this post so close to dinner time? My stomach is speaking to me. It’s saying I need to invite my neighbor over to cook dinner for us. Nope. Nope that was my lazy bones talking.
The way they season and SPICE UP food here, I really think I could eat just about anything coated in the yummy goodness (anyone up for some ostrich?). When people try to tame food to please the wimpy foreigners I am NOT a happy camper. I am not a sissy when it comes to spice. The hotter the heat the tastier the treat. That’s what I always say! Okay, I just made it up. You caught me.
Though with this tendency to ladle on the masala I need to adopt the habit of chasing my super heated meals with yogurt as the Nepalis do. I haven’t fallen in love with plain yogurt; however, thankfully my kids have. I’ll take sugar-drowned Yoplait any day of the week. Although, I have found plain yogurt to be a necessity in cooking our food, and I am so glad I found that out. I have finally perfected my banana bread recipe thanks to the addition of this readily available (and super cheap!) staple.
While I don’t think I will be eating rice for breakfast anytime soon, offer me some Nepali food any other time of the day, and I am good to go! Otherwise I’ll be at KFC where I enjoy spicy chicken and rizo rice. Yum!
Let me know if you stumble upon any of these food items at your local import store or foreign food source. It might even be fun to have a little Nepali food or snack night with your family! (Just don’t watch Everest. Save that for a day you want to feel absolutely terrible). You may be surprised to find you enjoy some of these unfamiliar food items!
Tell me about your foreign food adventures!
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!