Where There Is No McDonald’s: Cooking Abroad

1551.jpgOkay, most cities and towns where tefl teachers end up will, in fact, have this import from the US…but one thing that is certain almost everywhere: you are likely to need to do a little cooking while abroad, more so than at home. Go no further than the TEFL Logue, your source for cooking in a foreign country.

One thing I’ve noticed is that pre-made foods are harder to find in many places than they are in the US, and they are often comparatively more expensive. You may also discover that if you want to cook something from home which isn’t available locally, finding just the right ingredients or spices may prove to be a challenge.

One solution: ask your family to send you some light-weight ingredients that you can add to easy-to-find local foods. One of my favorites in the past has been taco spice (which worked well when I was eating meat but is no longer quite as useful, especially when I am lacking black beans). Many spices are available locally, but for this most recent stint, I also brought with me some chai masala from India and some garam masala from Whole Foods – just because I think it is good.

Another solution: go out to eat every night of the week.

Yet another solution: learn how to cook using what’s available locally.

Ask around for some local recipes or find ways to cook food like it is at home, such as Universal Pasta Sauce:

  • Chop and saute garlic and onions. Add some diced tomatoes (these can be diced by hand) and cook for a bit. Add plain tomato paste (the cheap stuff!)and oregano (or other similar spices), salt and pepper.
  • Some may scoff at the idea of eating foods from home; I love trying local food and learning how to cook it, but when you are immersed in a day to day routine in a foreign country for a year or more, comfort food cravings are hardly unusual.

    To see what other TEFL-ers are cooking up, have a drool over Guy Courchesne’s yet-to-be-named Halloween thingies or Gdog’s chicken over at the Daily Kimchi (and if that doesn’t do it for you have a look at the celebration meal he ate when he found the TEFL Logue had included the Daily Kimchi as one of the Top 10 TEFL Blogs).