Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sour Cream

Yes, I know this is a strange title for a post, but this is something that has made me very happy today and kind of is a way for me to convey what it has been like a little in terms of little things that make me happy these days.

Since we arrived we have had all sorts of experiences buying food.  There are several options for us as Americans and where we live.  We are able to go to the commissary and buy American foods that we have become used to.  To honest, it is hard to shop there because they have no fresh veggies and most of what you get is expired.  It has to be shipped by boat and is travelling half way around the world, so I don't get bothered by it.  Also, you cannot be picky, even though they do have a great assortment of some things that are more natural-ish.  They are way too expensive though for me to swallow.  For instance, an Amy's pizza is 6 or 7 dollars.  I wouldn't even buy it in the U.S. for 4 or 5 so I don't feel like I am missing out when I get the Tony's instead for less than 2 bucks.

We have a housekeeper who also cooks and babysits for us occasionally.  I have really enjoyed having her cook and shop for us.  She knows where to go and what things are supposed to cost.  I felt like going to the market the other day to check out the produce for the heck of it.  MY LORD.  It is the most annoying experience.  The vendors are shouting constantly at me "Madam, madam, madam" do you want ___________? or I have ____________.  Come here and buy _____________.  Too much for me to handle.  I am such a slow shopper, where I need to check it all out and figure out what the best deal is and, to be quite honest, I suck at haggling.  I don't want 20 men yelling at me in sort of English while I shop.

So...back to the title.  I have had a heck of a time finding sour cream and yogurt that is decent.  There is absolutely no sour cream at the local stores that I have checked out and the yogurt is outrageous if it is decent yogurt.  For example, I bought a six pack at a local market of the little flavored ones similar to yo-baby for 5 dollars.  Then, there is some at the commissary and it is not going to expire for a year, so I figure it is probably not worth buying.  They finally had sour cream at the commissary that was of course expired, but I figured, hey it's sour cream, how bad can it be.  Well it was bad.  The texture was horrible and it was too expired. I tried to console myself with the fact that it was probably frozen and that was why the texture was so off putting, but I couldn't do it for more than one meal.  I only wasted a few bucks, but had gotten my hopes up.  Apparently I can add "sour cream addiction" to my growing list. 

The solution to the yogurt problem was to order a yogurt maker from amazon and I am awaiting its arrival in a couple of weeks or maybe month. 

Sour cream, I probably could make myself, but that is surely not as easy.  I have made ricotta before just with milk and vinegar, but there are probably some different cultures I would need to have for the sour cream to work out just right.  I think I actually had sour cream starter when I made goat cheeses back in Missouri, but I don't think they would ship here since they were on ice.

I finally found this place that is called the "German Butcher".  Why I say "found" is that it just is a room in the first floor of a residential apartment building with absolutely no advertising.  You really had to know where to look.  We had an address, but still weren't quite sure where it was.  Once you had that it really wasn't that hard to find, but you really need to know the exact address.  I went there last week to buy some lunch meat that has been really good--salami, ham, and chicken slices.  I was asking about sour cream because he had a sign up for it, but you have to buy it by the liter.  Plus the guy is super intimidating.  A true gem of a German crabby pants. 

I needed sour cream today and could eat it everyday with chips and salsa, so I made it a point to get there today.  There was a local Bangladeshi man working and a maybe Chinese? lady taking money.  No crabby German in the store, and he was outside visiting with someone.  They were so nice and the lady was so sweet to the kids.  I paid my ten dollars for my liter of sour cream and I couldn't be happier.  It truly is the small things that matter.  We had enchiladas tonight and I can't wait to eat some chips and salsa with sour cream!


  1. So many little things that we all take for granted! Your posts give me the sense that you are having fun with some aspects of this adventure but that others are a big adjustment. I'm glad you found some sour cream and hope that continue to keep the positive outlook. :)

  2. Thanks Hope! It is all those things and more....I am grateful to have wonderful friends here that can help and we can all enjoy the good and laugh at the bad sometimes :)

  3. Do you drink bottled water? How do the vendors know to yell at you in English? How do you communicate with non-english speakers?

    1. That crabby German guy hiding his small store sounds like a pain. But you found meat and sour cream! You do have interesting experiences. I wish you had a little video cam hidden so we can share.

    2. Matti--we have a large water distiller. I think there may be a picture of it in our move in pictures a few posts back. We cannot drink the water and need to really wash our veggies well. Some people use bleach in the water to do so, our cook uses salt water and distilled water to get them clean. The vendors can speak enough English to sell you stuff and try to get extra money out of you! Mary Alice, he is a pain, but I am not surprised. I often times wish I could just walk around with a video camera to record my day. I should just have it out and carry it inconspicuously and see what I get. Just walking around is an experience, if not even for the sounds.

  4. That is great to know! I've bought some sour cream from the commissary and had the same experience. I'll have to go to the German butcher next time!

  5. Glad I could help in the sour cream department Lindsay!