Sunday, September 15, 2013

Advice on moving to Nigeria: food

It's been a long while since I made official suggestions for someone preparing to move out here, but the wisdom of this one has been pressing on me this time around:

Bring Meals. Not just food, but meals.

When we have ever planned to go back home, the longest list of "Things To Do in the States" is of the foods we will eat, ranging from the fresh vegetables that you either can't find here or have to clean in bleach, to anything that requires refrigeration, to meat that you don't have to soak in vinegar to get rid of the health risks, to anything that resembles variety.

I have a friend out here who spends the better part of his non-work time (as far as I can tell) posting pictures of food he will eat when he gets back home. When another friend left a year ago, she gave us her food storage: Pop Tarts, real butter, Asian spices, and a host of other things we are still going through. It was a delightful treasure trove that felt like Christmas.

While we've always brought a little food from home we mostly brought ingredients: seasonings I can't find here (eg. paprika, Lawry's, Worcestershire sauce, or anything green), a little dried fruit, and one bag of peanut M&Ms per month. We did think of a couple foods we wanted to make and lacked ingredients for: chocolate chips and canned pumpkin for cookies, powdered sugar for crepes, but not meals.

This time around I decided to play it smarter. I thought of particular meals I wished I could have here and brought everything I'd need. I brought taco seasonings and salsa and made myself some improvized taco salad last week I was enraptured about. Tonight it was falafel mix that sent me into ecstasy. I have Thai sauces and Indian mixes and just a few other special meals, enough for about one a week.

Those little treats do a world of good for my morale. So I heartily recommend that if you are coming to a little, out of the way corner of Nigeria, bring some variety.