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Friday, March 26, 2010

Eating in Guatemala

So I just returned last night from a short trip to Guatemala with International Justice Mission. And what an amazing trip it was!
I've been blogging and talking all about my experiences there, but one question that keeps coming up is "what kind of food did you eat?" I figure that deserves it's own post here on my little food blog. After all, so much of the experience of traveling is about the food. I've heard of some who dread getting out of their comfort zone, being forced to stretch their culinary palate. Poor souls. Live a little! Embrace where you're at! Get yourself out of your box!

So, here's what I had a lot of...

Pretty much everywhere you go, the coffee is good. Really good. I even had the opportunity to zip line over a coffee plantation. Seeing all the work that goes into it gave me even more of an appreciation for the people who harvest, wash, and roast it.

Another interesting drink that is quite popular in the restaurants is called "Fresco de Jamaica" (hibiscus flower drink). It's a refreshing, sweet, floral tasting drink that's really good. I wish I could find it here.

Probably the most popular fast food restaurant, Pollo Campero, just opened up a location here in my home city just outside of Atlanta.
These places are everywhere in Guatemala. Although we did not eat there on this trip, back in 1995 I ate there several times. One of the newest staff members of IJM is a native Georgian. He and his family just moved to Guatemala City and he said that Pollo Campero has the best fried chicken he's had at any restaurant. I plan to take the boys there sometime in the near future for the cultural experience!

A typical breakfast for me was "mosh". Mosh is similar to oatmeal, but more runny. I topped it with granola, papaya, strawberries and honey. It was really delicious and filling. I'd also have fried plantains, refried black beans (yep!), and papaya juice. On one of our visits to an IJM's client's house, she had worked hard all morning preparing her mosh for us. Her's was cooked with cinnamon and sugar and the sweet lady had been stirring it for SO long. She then served us the mosh in cups and we drank it as we left.

My last morning there I had this:

On the menu, it was called "Mexican Eggs." I SO want to recreate this. It was basically two fried eggs atop a corn tortilla, topped with salsa, avacado, crumbled queso blanco with a side of fried plantains and black beans. Simple enough, but I doubt I'll be able to make it just right because the salsa was very unique.

Beans for breakfast? I can tell you that that every time I had refried black beans they were always wonderful. They were very salty but in a good way. They were usually topped with sour cream or cheese. I've never had them like that in the states. I've heard that the way to prepare them is to cook them, run them through a food processor until they're very smooth, then fry them in a skillet to dry them out a little. I have no idea if this is truly the way it's done, and I don't know what seasonings are added but I figure it's worth a shot.

Other things on my menu: ceviche (first time having it...definitely won't be the last!), pumpkin ravioli in a Guatemalan herb sauce, shrimp in a curry coconut milk sauce with raisins and bananas, and chili rellenos. There was also an interesting marinated vegetable salad offered at the hotel with every meal that included cauliflower, carrots and peppers marinated in a vinegar sauce. Again, very tasty.

Dessert was a bit of a disappointment. I was never that impressed. They usually seemed so promising, but just didn't quite deliver.

If you're interested, here's a link I found on typical Guatemalan food.


Joy said...

I think I could LIVE in Guatemala - huevos rancheros and ceviche are two of my favorite things, seriously. And, I am often enjoying both beans and avocado with my eggs. Plantains? Please!! YUM! Then, there's the fact that I think the coffee there is some of the best - Guatemala and Zambia - my favorites. I could just live there and eat my own pound cake for dessert! HA!

Laura said...

Oh yum I miss the food there. And I almost broke my neck once in China looking back to verify that I had indeed seen a Pollo Campero! Where is the one in Atlanta?

I found a place in Antigua with good banana bread so I would let that be my dessert..or really the fried plantains.

Andrea said...

Missing you around here. That cup of coffee in your last post reminds me of a spiced coffee I once had. (Not sure why) Looks yummy, tho'.

Hope you are enjoying life. :)