How my diet has changed

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.

Cesar Chavez

tomatillos 1The quote reveals a Mexican soul. He doesn’t say go to a restaurant and split the bill. He doesn’t say go to a drive-through and then picnic. It’s to the home, an intimate not neutral place, where hospitality can be offered, where more can be offered than simply money, where one’s and one’s family time is offered instead, where the visitor sees how an individual or family lives and eats using their cutlery on their plates, however grand or modest they may be.  I’m fortunate to have shared meals with two Mexican-American friends in the Bay Area, a couple, R and L, with whom I’ve been to restaurants as well as to their home (they’ve also been to mine). They’ve included me in family and holiday events at their home and prove Chavez’s statement.

My Experience with Food in San Miguel

I know people here who eat out all the time – they have money and they have no desire to cook. There are people who stay busy with volunteering or play-reading groups and so are in El Centro for lunch every day and who seem to think mediocre is good. I know folks who wouldn’t think of passing up a street vendor’s offerings, who seek to explore every flavor that’s available. I know people who wouldn’t dare try street food. There are folks who eat only in restaurants where English is spoken.

I made a salad for a pot-luck which one woman would not eat because it contained lettuce, and it was not that she didn’t like lettuce, but that she wondered whether it had been washed (it had), whether it was washed in purified water (it had), and whether the water had had Microdyn in it (it had):  despite the lettuce’s strict upbringing and having met all her qualifications, she refused to eat the salad.  Some people say that one should not eat like a San Miguelesean until one has lived here six months and adapted to the local bacteria.

Since I’ve been in San Miguel I don’t eat out often, perhaps once a week, and always at lunch. I have not been to a high-end restaurant. For the most part the food has been mediocre compared to similar restaurants in the Bay Area.

Probably most people change their diets when they move to a country to live, as it’s impractical and expensive to try to replicate one’s former food leanings. I’m surprised by the ways my diet has changed here in San Miguel. Some of the changes are due to:

  • The shops that I frequent
  • My not getting up early to get to the organic market on Saturdays
  • Limited kitchen tools
  • What is appealing/not appealing in the stores

In some countries, Mexico included, frozen food is not as popular as in other countries. Whether the reason is non-existing refrigerators, small refrigerators with small freezer compartments, the relative costliness of prepared foods, undependable electric supplies, the higher relative or real cost of electricity –  there just isn’t as large a selection as in the United States, for example. So that has altered my eating.

I have no way of knowing whether climate and altitude have affected my appetite for certain foods.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about my eating pattern. I take in more:

  • Beans (black and pinto)
  • Avocados
  • Yogurt
  • Granola-type cereals
  • Pasta
  • Milk and fruit juices
  • Broccoli (much is grown in the Bajio)
  • Roasted chicken (I buy one a week while I might have made one a month in the States)
  • Crema (sour cream-like dairy product)
  • Tomatillos (I used them in salsas)
  • Eggs

I eat little or no:

  • Butter (I didn’t like the taste of what I purchased once)
  • Prepared meats such as charcuterie or hot dogs – I’ve bought chorizo twice in four months
  • Peanut butter (none – no desire for it)
  • Red meat (I didn’t each much of this before, but now I eat ground beef perhaps twice a month – haven’t found ground turkey which I ate three or four times a month NoB)
  • Fish and shellfish, except canned tuna and sardines (laziness in not seeking out a good vendor)
  • Pizza (none due to accessibility and really, I’m in Mexico, so what’s the point?)
  • Bread and pastry (accessibility – there are at least two very good artisanal bakeries in town, so I buy bread once a week as part of errands – the bread in the local tiendas is soft textured mass-produced carbohydrates similar to Wonder Bread NoB)
  • Frozen foods (pizza, fruits, vegetables – lack of availability and lower quality)
  • Ice cream or chips (lack of desire)
  • Bar chocolate (except for Lindt not as good quality as NoB and seems to be more expensive)

I eat fewer (or less):

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables – much of it is not in very good shape at the tiendas and markets. I often have to buy fruit unripe and let it ripen on the shelves. I eat more apples, just not the variety that I had in California.
  • Tortillas (surprisingly) and fresh chiles – I do use more dried chilis
  • Fresh red tomatoes – the quality is just as poor as NoB
  • Cheese
  • Jellies, jams, preserves – in general I’m eating less sugar from highly concentrated sweetened foods and getting more through carbohydrates such as rice, corn products, and some bread
  • Onions and garlic due to cooking in a different style
  • Lettuce – this is the one item I put in Microdyne, so the hassle of cleaning it is just too much on a daily basis
  • Wine and beer

“Mexican” food NoB

Funny and cute.


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