Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Houston...I Think We Have a Resolution

After months and months of fussing, bitching, complaining and putting my foot down - and pulling some less than mature tricks and attitudes out of the closet - I think we may have finally solved some of the food issues around here.

It took me a while to get my point across to hubby accurately but here is what goes on. Food in Punjab rots twice as fast (if not faster) than it does in the US. This is because of the humidity, the lack of chemicals and processing, etc. So his mom has this habit of rapidly cooking up everything in site and nothing gets left behind. That leaves me with no food but tomatoes, potatoes and onions because she takes almost everything and starts cutting and cooking long before I've even had a chance to look through the fridge. And she puts everything in that awful pressure cooker. (Don't get me wrong, the pressure cooker can be good for some things but it is not a solution for everything.) Now I understand why hubby and his dad rarely eat her food and bring food home quite often. It's not that it's bad, but everything you cook in the pressure cooker has one texture and one flavor. It's mushy stuff with spices. There's no depth to the flavor or layers of flavor to add interest.

Hubby and I have been talking about some serious issues lately and the doctor wants me to meet some strict dietary requirements. Those requirements mean that I can't have anything canned or eat snack foods. Well, since I've been mostly having to live off of those just to be able to eat something other than tomatoes, potatoes and onions that is a big issue. The doctor gave me some specific vegetables I need to eat and I can't seem to get anyone to bring those for me most of the time. I also have to completely avoid ghee and refined oils which means I can't anything MIL cooks. (I don't like ghee and oil anyway so this is no real challenge.) It's really gotten tiring arguing about food. We wind up going out to eat frequently but that gets old and tiring too and I'm running out of good selections at all my favorite restaurants.

I just finally started lecturing him that I have no intention of starving or experiencing severe vitamin deficiencies. I am pretty sure I threatened him that he wasn't getting any foods that I didn't have available to me and there would be no more quick trips to the store so I could make something special for him just because he was craving it right then. I think he got the idea then - either that I was beyond pissed or that the food really hasn't been here all this time. He said he was going to tell his mom not to use up everything so fast so I could eat too and so far this has been going well for about a week.

He doesn't want to take me out grocery shopping but once a week, though he will pick up things if I ask him to. He doesn't want me to go to the stores in the street to get my own. And I don't know what to ask for to send him out there by himself. (These are not grocery stores, they are little shops in the bazaar so they don't have the same thing as the grocery store.) Sure, I can ask for some common things but, unlike the US, things go out of season on a much larger scale (like spinach which is only available in the winter months) and they are not available at all here. So if I need it, there's only a 50/50 chance I'm going to get it and if I can't then my recipe idea is gone and I have to start over from scratch looking for something that may be available. (Do you see the craziness in that notion?) Not to mention there are vegetables here that we don't have in the US. It was a productive argument with no yelling, but I think he got my point. He has me backed in a corner and I'm not willing to stay there.

In addition to all of that we have been having an unusually high number of faults in the power lines lately and my toaster oven is not hooked into the private power (our backup power source). So that means if I plan a dish that needed the oven, I'm not gonna get to cook it and must again adapt and overcome. This is not my strong point at all while living here. India has a lot of challenges for a foreigner to overcome, that's for sure!

This week alone I've managed to have brinjl (the tiny eggplants) and turnips. Tonight I'm making a green bean casserole with cream of mushroom and I will make spinach dal tomorrow. Of course, I did have to fuss about the eggs because hubby had just bought eggs one morning and there were none left at lunch time. I also haven't gotten the sweet potatoes I've been asking for for the last two weeks. (HyperCity's look horrible!) Let's just hope I can keep some food in this place. I know this is more an American custom but I just can't seem to change my thinking and live without ALL the freaking time.

17 comments:

  1. You gotta admit though, even though fruits and veggies are seasonal, they taste much better than the produce in North America. You can also be on the look out for small gourmet chains like Marche [don't know whether they're in Amritsar, but there should be some kind of gourmet store as there are lots of Canadians and British who live there]. They'll have a good selection of non-seasonal frozen veggies.

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  2. You're right, they do taste better. We don't have any small chains here other than Reliance Fresh and Easy Day and they hardly have anything frozen. They barely have anything fresh! It's sad. I've been all over this town looking for stuff and it's just not available. Food has been a serious issue this entire time and I have panic attacks often (something I never had in the US) over just food because I can't get food when I need it or want it. This is a basic need that's just not being met.

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  3. Wow, sounds like you have had a rough time of it since you have been in India, and not just with the food issue.  I hope things start looking up for you soon.  It just amazes me at what seems to be lack of consideration on other people's part by using all the food before you can see what's there.  Looks like you need to set your alarm clock to get to the fridge before your MIL. lol.  But why can't you collaborate together with recipes?  I know you don't speak the language, but maybe you could look up a recipe online and use pics or hand signs to explain what you want to do with the food used for it.  You could even (if u have access to a printer) print out pictures of different food items to use to cook with her.  I don't know if that's something that would work for you. Just an idea :) I hope one way or the other, things get better for you soon.  

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  4. Why can't you go to the store alone? Is it that dangerous? As an 18/19 year old Scottish girl I used to do a ton of stuff alone in Cairo. Is India worse than the Middle East? My ex didn't want me to but I was an adult and it wasn't his decision to make. You can worry about someone, but you can't live your life for them. 

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  5. I have to agree with jasmine here, you really should be able to go out to local stores alone or with yr MIL, does she go outside? you have the patience of a saint Bhabi Ji x

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  6. Well I would first put my foot down and insist on you going grocery shopping alone, I don't know Amritsar, but in general India isn't that bad really, and if Rohit's concern is eve teasing, well locking you inside to avoid it is idiotic and is crippling you, women in India do go out during the day and do the grocery shopping, and survive it, and so will you :)
    On the cooking everything, your MIL might be still thinking in a pre-fridge era mentality, my MIL tend to think that everything more than a day old isn't fresh even if stored in the fridge, true vegetables spoils a bit faster, but not that fast, and stuff like corriander leaves, spinach and mint do preserve much longer and very well when you place them into ziploc bags right after coming home, Rohit might have to have a talk with his mom about that, old habits die hard but there is no reason for you MIL to use a week worth of provision in a day based on the old assumption that things spoil fast, or come with a policy that what you and Rohit buy is to be left alone, and be strict and complain big time if it has been cooked and used without your permission. Remind them abotu what the Dr said, I found out that Indians tend to take everything a MD says at face value and will not challenge the order.
    Good luck though, I know the fight ahead might be a bit taxing.

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  7. We are working on that now. Many in the family do still think that food spoils super fast and must be used immediately. (Of course this doesn't stop them from letting food sit on the counter for half a day before putting it away after cooking it.....the standards are just so different.) Thanks for the suggestions, they may help get some of the cooking issues resolved. I hadn't thought of the pictures idea.

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  8. Well it started out with me not knowing the language or the neighborhood. I'm a really slow learner when it comes to directions and for a long time I wasn't even comfortable that I could find my way home. Then as I got comfortable and learned my way around more I started suggesting they take me with them when they go out...well more like asking/telling them I was going. They don't tell me when they are going out anymore and while I do feel like the first time or two I go I want someone with me, I'm pretty much done. I've already warned them I will walk out without telling them because I'm nobody's prisoner and if they want me to stay put then they will bring me what I want. (Yes...being pissed off makes me demanding.) Amritsar is not a woman friendly city. Many of the Indian women don't go out alone, especially not the young ones. So I'm still not sure how safe it is. I will find out though.

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  9. MIL goes out but they don't tell me and I don't hear them. They don't invite me either. It's something I've complained about more than I should have to. As part of this argument I told Rohit he can expect me to walk out the door soon without telling anyone because I'm tired of the fight and if I'm going to be left alone, then I will take care of myself alone. It got a little ugly lol. I can't say I was completely nice but there's only so far you can push someone before they just can't be nice anymore. I would like to respect the family wishes and let them do it for me but they need to respect my needs and get it done and not leave me waiting for days on end.

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  10. I'm working on going out alone. Hell I would even settle for going out with them but that's not happening no matter how many times I ask and I'm tired of fighting with my husband so he can yell at them to take me. It's counterproductive, childish and just not my way. I'm an ask once kind of person and then I say eff this and do it on my own normally. I still feel like I'm trying to learn how to live here and this is only hindering my progress. I'm certain I will survive and I won't hesitate to beat the crap out of anyone that messes with me...I'm no weakling and Rohit knows it. Some of my muscles are stronger than his and he works out so I could take down a scrawny Indian college kid any day and those are the ones in our street. I'm sure he worries too much because we have a gang of no-good losers living a few doors down that have watched me on occasion but I'm not their prisoner and I refuse to be.

    I think you're right about MIL thinking things will go bad. Rohit thinks the same way about food and I have to remind him that not everything spoils immediately. It's like a constant uphill battle. I think I'm to that pissed off stage though and I will fight it.

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  11. I say do find out, walk out without telling them, I had a lot of old generation women telling me bangalore is not safe for women, urging me not to go out after dark, but it is ridiculous because sun sets at 6pm, you heve everybody coming out of office at the time, and it couldn't be any safer than that going in a commerical area, I even walked 6km at 6.30pm because no auto wanted to take me back home from my teaching job once, I just used the exact same common sense I would back in Geneva coming home walking at 1am because there were no bus, and Bangalore at 7pm is crowded compared to Geneva in the dead of the night, between the two I swear I put myself in more danger walking in my home town alone. But with a minimum of self defense, a fork in your hand and being on alert no biggie :) But yeah try to explain that to the old generation in India, they still think women going on the rooftop of their own house at night are asking for trouble...ugh

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  12. True. Rohit was raised with that old aunty mindset lol. I get into it with him over being out on the terrace sometimes too. It doesn't stop me from going and I bring out the fighting words hahaha. It's sad but someone has to do it.

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  13. How is it not happening no matter how many times you ask? Just do it, you're an adult and don't need permission.

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  14. That doesn't mean not telling people where you're going. Tell your MIL that you're going to the shop, so she knows where you'll be, and just go like any other person in the world!

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  15. When I ask to go with them they don't take me. I'm upstairs and they just leave without even telling me. I can't just go along with them when I don't know where they went. I wouldn't go out without telling them but I'm trying to work out this mess so that there is no more hostility or discontent between family members. That's why I'm avoiding just walking out of the door any time I want.

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  16. They are and they are fun to cook!

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