Last week we caved and bought a bottle of Tabasco sauce that cost over $10. You learn to get by without American goodies, and even find some things that are better than good ol’ American products (See Makseem, by derrickdona), but sometimes that little itch just gets to you. So here is my list of things that should not be taken for granted:
1. Dr. Pepper ©: This is a drink that has no comparison. It must be drunk slowly and every sip appreciated. Last summer Dr. Pepper made its way to Bishkek. Although expensive (just under $2 for one can), it satisfied the craving whenever we were able to afford it. It wasn’t a popular drink among the locals and it quickly went on clearance. Needless to say we bought over 20 cans when it reached its lowest price, 50 cents. We still have a few cans hidden somewhere, to be consumed when the time is right.
2. Tabasco ©: Being from the southwest we’ve yearned for some nice hot chile since we haven’t been able to get our hands on anything hot enough. This helps us satisfy our need for “burn” and we’ve used it for every meal since we bought it. I should add that we have found a less expensive alternative: Little hot chile peppers that are a cross of Hatch green chile and jalapenos.
3. Tortilla Chips: The foundation for nachos, we used to be able to buy them here but, alas, they’ve fallen into the category of non-attainables. When we were able to get them it cost about $5-$10 a bag. We’ve been able to somewhat get by making our own by frying lavash.
4. Cream cheese: The magical basis for cheesecake, it can be obtained but at a price of $5-$7 a stick. I have a recipe for little cherry turnovers (that are simply divine) that calls for this magical ingredient but I have not been able to work up the justification for such a purchase…yet.
5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ©: While not my go-to candy, it does satisfy when a bit of Americana is needed. While there are several types of American candy (i.e. Snickers ©, M&M’s ©, Skittles ©) that we can get here peanut butter cups must be mailed in. Note: the bite-sized ones make great package filler.
In our minds these seemingly mundane, ordinary items are considered luxuries and worth savoring. I’ve been amazed at what I find myself missing (like Spam, Velvetta mac and cheese, a Reuben sandwich, Craisins), things that are no big deal back home but have somehow found their place in my stomach, err, heart. Part of the adventure in living so far away from home is the chance to find new things that will somewhat hold you over till you can indulge in the things that you love.