By Edd and Cynthia Staton
We’ve been here in Cuenca since the middle of January and don’t return to the U.S. until the first part of May. That’s the longest stretch at home in I don’t know how long.
It’s been a joy to get reacquainted with our hometown and to catch up with friends. We even miss the inexpensive almuerzos (fixed menu lunches) when we’re away, and one of our “re-entry” rituals is to visit our favorite nearby restaurant for a big bowl of soup, glass of fresh-squeezed juice, entree and dessert ($6.50 total) as soon as possible after arrival.
Neither of us are big “shoppers,” so our suitcases aren’t bulging with new clothing after a trip to see the family. But what I really love to bring back are lots of yummy treats that you just can’t buy here. Things like Ghirardelli chocolate chips, pecans and deluxe mixed nuts, interesting crackers, aged cheeses.
Cheese? Yep. Cheeses in Ecuador are perpetrators of identity theft. They go by names with which you are familiar like Gruyere or Cheddar but puzzlingly all taste kind of the same. This trait of sameness also applies to many breads and pastries as well as the wines we can afford. Cabernet? Merlot? All you know is it’s red wine for less than $12.
So a trip to Trader Joe’s or a local cheese stop is always one of our last errands before heading to the airport. Hard cheeses hold up just fine and cause no problems with those friendly TSA folks.
Sadly I seem to have miscalculated the time we would be home and thus underestimated the amount of goodies I needed to purchase. Plus I have a tendency to hit the treats hard when we first arrive because they were so readily available in the States.
I’m checking out what’s left while looking at the calendar and I realize I’ve got a problem–too much time and too few snacks. Now I’m forced to ration my remaining stash like a castaway adrift in a lifeboat. Four Tuscan crackers and cubes of double cream Havarti. One delicious buttery something-or-other from Switzerland. There are two containers of nuts holding one small serving each that just sit there because to consume the contents means they’re gone! Alas!!
My mistake means I’m facing a barren April of counterfeit cheese, anonymous wine, and tasteless treats. Oh, wait–there’s a bag of chocolate chips on the top shelf.
Let’s see, the cookie recipe makes four dozen so I can have one a day. Hooray! I’m saved!!
Where are those nuts? This calls for a celebration!