Food

Food, Fitness & Type 1 Diabetes: Lisa's Story

Food is a very personal thing. There is no one-size fits all in the real world and I'm convinced that what's right for one person may or may not be right for the rest of us. I also believe that if you've found something that might lead to self improvement, you need to give it a fair chance. If you've found something that works for you, you have to stick with it.

Easier said than done, I know.

I am not a nutritionist, a doctor, a fitness guru. I just want to share my story in the hopes that it might help someone out there find their own path. There are so many people looking, searching for answers. I hope to serve as a guide.

The Back Story:

Like most people, my relationship with food has been complicated and flexible (more like dancing and gyrating, but we'll get into that...)

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (I will refer to it as T1D) in late 2002. I had just turned 26. My mom and brother both have T1D, so I grew up around diabetes and didn't think it would affect my life too greatly. I knew it. I thought I understood it. I used insulin injections for a while, then switched to an insulin pump after a year. With the exception of two short stints on injections when I was traveling in recent years, I have used an insulin pump for the great majority of the last 13 years.

I was newly married and gained weight, as many newlyweds do. I remember huge glasses of orange juice, and matching my portions of pizza and Thai take-out with my husband. We were both chubby, but happy. I felt like I could eat anything and as long as I covered it with insulin and I did. My A1C levels were good, but I probably still produced some background insulin (appropriately called the "honeymoon period" after T1D diagnosis).

In order to gain control of our eating habits, we latched onto the South Beach Diet in 2005-ish and both lost weight. Portion control was key, along with the tough initiation period that broke your addiction to simple carbs.  The thing with South Beach is that you gradually re-introduce carbs and herein lies the downfall. 

Like most "diets" we slipped away from those better eating habits as the years passed.

Jump forward several years:

I had two beautiful baby girls, 4.5 years apart and although I lost all my pre-baby weight after my first pregnancy, my second wasn't so easy. I was at the heaviest (non-pregnant) that I had ever been, 175 lbs.

In late 2013, I had heard of Paleo eating and the Whole 30 and was trying to cut down on my carbohydrate intake to lose weight and gain better control of my T1D & blood glucose numbers. October 2013 I completed by first Whole 30 month and it changed my entire outlook on how I could feel. I started at about 173 lbs and lost about 10 lbs in a month. I felt amazing while not eating dairy or grains, but tons of protein, fruits and veggies.

Then came the holidays and a 6 week road-trip around Argentina in Feb 2014 with hours in the car and more restaurant eating than I care to admit (plus the tragic thinking of "Oh, I can have that. We're on vacation!!") The weight was back and what I had learned on the Whole 30 just months before went out the window.

Here's the visual evidence. This is hard to post: 

 Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

Feb 2014 - Our Road Trip through Argentina. Lisa at approx. 170 lbs

March 2014 was my second Whole 30 month and much harder than the first. It was also the start of daily exercise, bringing our youngest daughter to preschool everyday. I walked 5 km round trip, half of that pushing a jogging stroller along bumpy suburban sidewalks. I walked fast and felt strong. I felt great. The weight came off again and then some, totaling 23 lbs lost in a year.

 March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

March 2015- Lisa at approx 150 lbs 

I didn't care so much about the weight, though. I wanted to feel strong, fit and healthy.

Here it's July 2015. My daily walks with our youngest have ended as she started school with her sister, much closer to our home this past March. To make up for less time walking per day, I am taking 2 Pilates classes per week and trying to walk more on the weekends. I've also been looking for a yoga class nearby and have been exploring the concepts/motions of MovNat. Their motto "Be Strong To Be Useful". Who can argue with that??


Dr. Bernstein's Low Carb Diet for Diabetes Management: This past January, I re-discovered Dr. Bernstein's Book, "Diabetes Solution" after I bought it on Kindle last year.

Dr Bernstein is an 81-year-old Engineer (his first career) and Medical Doctor (he went to med school at age 40) that has had Type 1 Diabetes for the last 69 years. Dr. Bernstein has successfully reversed many of his own diabetic complications that came from years of high blood glucose levels following this diet that he advocates and discovered in the 1970s. He is currently practicing medicine in New York and accepting new patients.

I first read Dr. Bernstein's book in early 2014 and thought it was extreme and insane. It's an eating plan that is close to the Ketogenic diet, which has been used to treat Epilepsy since the early 1900's. Dr Bernstein's plan is close to what doctors prescribed to their patients at the discovery of insulin in the 1920's. It advocates very low carbohydrates to control diabetes blood glucose levels but even reverse the complications that high blood glucose levels produce. It is tough plan, with a limit of 30 grams of carbs per day, completely through vegetables, meat and dairy. No fruit. Higher fat than you'd imagine. Target blood glucose of 83 mg/dL. My target range is 70-95 mg/dL. 

So, with Dr. Bernstein's plan: 

  • Healthy fats/oils, eggs, red meat and dairy. YES!!!
  • Non-starchy vegetables. YES!!!
  • Nuts & seeds in limited quantities (depending on the type). YES!!!
  • Sugars (as in breads, crackers, pasta, rice, legumes, fruit, etc. -- because they are all turned into sugars in your body) ABSOLUTELY NO!

The first month was a difficult transition, but my blood glucose levels have been normal. Completely non-diabetic normal, with an  A1c of 4.4%. It had been so dramatic of a change that I don't know how I can give this up. I am not hungry, not feeling deprived and my T1D is completely under control. 

I am within a healthy weight range and BMI using all the recommended charts. (Based on some, my weight is still on the high end of recommended, others I fall right in the middle at 5'-10" and 150 lbs).

I feel great compared to the previous ups and downs of blood glucose levels that make a person feel tired, irritable and at times really foggy.

Do I feel less emotional, more clear headed, more ... ME?

I am happy to say.... YES!!!

 March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 

March 2015-Lisa at approx. 150 lbs 


** The next Health Post will discuss specific tools that I use and recommend to keep track of food and exercise. I'm not selling anything here, but there are things that work for me and keep me accountable on a daily basis.

NEW Healthy Family Abroad Format

Ugh. Changing blog formats is never simple. The look, the layout, re-categorization of 6 years worth of posts. Here's the deal: We've changed the blog format to include three branches of information: Health, Family and living/moving working abroad information (thus our new name of HealthyFamilyAbroad!!) See the three tabs up above.

You'll be seeing a new blog design coming soon, utilizing these new categories to more easily search posts by interest.  There will be overlaps as many subjects can fit into more than one category.

Family will consist of posts on:

  • Time Together
  • Communication with Family at a Distance
  • Education: Local & Electronic Options
  • Trips "Home"
  • Holidays
  • Pregnancy & Birth
  • Kid Gear/Supplies
  • Language & adaptation
  • Minimalism
  • Travel
  • Packing How-To's

Health: 

  • Food/ Diet/Cooking
  • Meal Planning
  • Local food availability & cost
  • Medical Care & Insurance
  • Fitness
  • Diabetes Care
  • Homesickness
  • Work/Live Balance
  • Mental Health

Expat/Living Abroad: 

  • Technology
  • Visas
  • Residency
  • Citizenship
  • Anchor Baby
  • Rentals
  • Transportation
  • Location Independence
  • Lifestyle Design
  • Money Exchange

Thanks for all your interest. We are very excited to roll out the new blog format and focus! Remember to comment on our posts and like us on Facebook!

Happy Travels,

Lisa signature
Lisa signature

Food and The Mother of Invention

If you asked me 5 years ago whether I thought food would be a major factor in our lives in South America, I never would have considered it. Food was food. Sure there were things I liked to eat and I knew there would be things that I wouldn't be able to find in South America, but I am here to tell you that our cooking and eating habits have changed and matured dramatically since we left the USA in early 2009. Poached Pears (With Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Cream Topping)

In Uruguay, our major adjustment was that the dinner hour doesn't start until about 8 PM (this is true in Argentina as well, with many restaurants hitting their busiest times around 10 PM). When we visited Uruguay in early 2008 during our exploratory trip with our infant daughter, this wasn't an issue. We brought the baby with us in a stroller and she slept while we ate. Toddlers, unfortunately are not quite as flexible. We opted to make food at home whenever possible and more often than we care to admit, we would wait for the take-out pizza place to open at 7 PM so we could get our pizza, pizzeta (crust, sauce and toppings with no cheese) and faina.

Weekly Produce for URMOVINGWHERE Family

Luckily, wherever we have lived in South America, there has been an ample supply of fresh produce and we could find the raw ingredients to make many things. On the other hand, the furnished rentals where we've lived have posed a challenge with the appliances/cookware provided. I started to cook in earnest, while not buying many durable goods because we've been moving frequently. Necessity is the mother of invention and I learned to make all the things that we might be craving: pad thai, fried rice, mac & cheese, lasagne, and all sorts of sauces, soups and spice blends from scratch.

I've always loved to bake, but I started experimenting with alternative flours (there are many gluten-free alternatives here) and I've had great success with everything from pizza crusts to moist fruit breads and crumbly scones.

Many of my cooking challenges arise from using recipes or meal-planning sites from the USA. As we are not in the US, I do not have access to certain foods (like kale, organic anything, sweet potatoes and most packaged items) and appliances (like crockpots- not available here, or a blender- I refuse to buy one). I've made do with substitutions for some things and created my own modified prep and cooking methods for others.

I am going to start to include recipes and workarounds here, as a supplement to our travel blog. Food is a huge part of an experience in any country. While I sometimes like to cook North American food as a reminder of 'home', I use many international influences, all the while modifying recipes to fit with the foods we have readily available in central Argentina.

Hope you enjoy our international food journey. You might just find a recipe that you'd like to try as well. ¡Buen Provecho!

Missing the Coffee Shops

One thing that I miss in Uruguay: American style coffee shops.Coffee I know, I know. This is not the USA and why would there be American style coffee shops here? We knew that this wasn't the same kind of coffee culture as the USA. It's just taking some getting used to.

I love coffee shops that sell a variety of baked goods, roasted coffee beans and fresh coffee- to enjoy there or TO GO in big, big cups. I am historically not an espresso drinker because it's gone in two sips. For me, a 16 ounce coffee is good, but 20 is even better. Not that Starbucks is a favorite, but we used to live right above one in Minneapolis and it was a frequent stop for us.

In Montevideo, you can go to any of the standard fare restaurants or confiterías and get an espresso, café or cortado in a beautifully presented little cup, but not to-go.  They may offer some really fabulous pastries, but it is just not the same. I want to settle into a comfy chair with a gynormous cup of coffee in hand and enjoy some alone time with the newspaper. For now, that will have to be done in the comfort of my own home.

The best alternative that we have found in Montevideo if we want a coffee "para llevar" (to go) is--please don't laugh here--McDonald's. The restaurant side of McDonald's sells coffee or café con leche in a to-go cup.  It is not the best, but it's all we've got here if you want it to-go.

One huge surprise for us has been the McCafé- it is an actual cafe attached to the McDonald's restaurants in Montevideo and quite impressive one at that. The McCafé has higher-end finishes, free wifi and an upscale attitude, serving pastries on porcelain plates and coffee in glass. We have enjoyed some time at a McCafé, but the sizes are smaller and prices are quite a bit higher than the to-go coffee in the McDonald's restaurant. Rightfully so, as the cafe is much more civilized than the standard McDonald's.

We have stumbled upon two places lately that may become close stand-ins for our beloved coffee shops in the USA. More info and reviews to follow in the coming days.

With the occasional visit to the McCafé or the other shops we've found lately, more frequent stops at McDonald's for a paper cup of joe and daily coffee at home, we'll do just fine. The differences here in Uruguay are also leading us to some welcome changes in our lifestyle. We slow down, take a seat and enjoy our coffee and conversation for a while instead of grabbing our to-go cup and running. Not a bad change at all.

Get Your own Toll Free Number

Gimme Some Sugar!

In a land where 'dulce de leche' rules supreme, one can expect that sugary sweets are a mainstay of the local diet.

As a person with Type 1 Diabetes though, I have an unusual relationship with sugar (and all carbohydrates for that matter). Contrary to popular belief, I can eat sugar, I just have to be diligent and count exactly how much I am consuming, then give myself the proper corresponding amount of insulin. Alternatively, I'm not a fan of aspartame and lean towards sucralose if I do need an artificial sweetener.

I was not prepared for sugar popping up in all sorts of unusual places in Uruguay.

Ground Coffee. While not a coffee connoisseur, I like the stuff enough to drink every day. Since arriving in Uruguay, I have purchased a variety of ground coffees from the grocery store. Never in my wildest dreams did I think to look at the contents of a bag of ground coffee. If you see the word "Glaseado" on the label, sugar is the #2 ingredient. I found one brand of 'cafe natural' that advertised no sugar. I was thrilled but unfortunately I find the coffee somewhat bitter. The Mellita brand also has unsweetened ground coffee.  Pay attention to the name because there is also a Melita (one 'L') that has sugar.  

Fruit Juice. It was brought to my attention a few weeks ago that the fruit juices here contain added sugar. While doing some investigation, it appears to be a variety of sweeteners in juice: sugar, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame or sucralose. Not extremely unusual, I guess, but I would hope for at least a few unsweetened options.

Correction: I have found a few of the Dairyco brand juices in the refrigerator section do not have added sugar (or other sweeteners).  The Naranja y Manzana (Orange & Apple) juice is really nice.

Tomato Sauce. I just want plain tomato sauce or tomato paste.  No salt, no sugar, no luck.

Yogurt. There is one giant jar of plain, unsweetened yogurt of the 'Claldy' brand. Everything else is one of the sugar/aspartame/sucralose trifecta.

There are also plenty of items in Uruguay that have high fructose corn syrup.  Coca Cola here is unusual in that it is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup in the USA and sugar here.  In this case, I'd take the sugar.  This is the reason that people in the USA seem to like the taste of  'Mexican' Coke.  It's that wonderful sugar...

The whole point is, lots of things in UY are 'dulce'.  Fortunately most of the grocery products list their ingredients. Spend some time and read the labels.  You may just be surprised at what is in the food that you eat.

*When needing to add a sweetener to food, there is a natural alternative available in Uruguay. Stevia is an extract of a plant grown in Paraguay. It is available at the larger grocery stores. Thanks Franklin for reminding me of this!  I also love Agave nectar, but so far I have not been able to find this in Uruguay. If anyone knows of Agave in UY, PLEASE send a note!!

Feria Vegetables

There's been recent talk in the Uruguay blog community about cost of food and I agree wholeheartedly with everything that has been said. Go to the many the ferias around town for great, inexpensive produce, fish, eggs and cheese.  I might add, go to any of the ferias outside of Pocitos, Punta Carretas or other "upscale areas" of Montevideo for even cheaper prices. I found what I believe to be the ultimate frugal feria score: approx 2 kilos of Soup starter vegetables for just over $1 US.

Feria vegetables for 25 pesos, or just over $1 US

It included:

Another Great Find

Deli SingerI've been walking past Deli Singer for weeks. Just a few blocks away from our house and right across the street from the grocery store that we frequent, this place is a gold mine.  It's always closed when I tend to walk by (weekdays between 2-4 PM) but Friday evening we found it open.  Deli Singer is a Jewish deli that  has all sorts of prepared foods as well as wonderful bulk nuts, dried fruits and grains, peanut butter, and other lovely sundries that tend to be hard to find here.  I  am thrilled that it is so close and they have a great variety.  Tonight we enjoyed some amazing cashews from Singer and would have had sundried tomatoes as well, but I forgot to add them to the lasagna I made.  

Deli Singer's hours are 8 AM-2 PM and 4 PM-8 PM  Monday through Friday and 8 AM-4 PM on Saturday.  

Deli Singer, Scoseria 2607 , esq. Luis de la Torre 

tel: 712 12 75

 

Note to Brian and Chrystal: You have to check this place out. They have large bags of almonds, and not far away from you!

Not All Is Rosy

Today I hit the wall. Not literally of course, but I hit the "I'm freaking-out-could-this-be-culture-shock" wall. I think it was more just general stress with lots of weird things compounding.  There were lots of tears involved, but fortunately a very supportive husband who along with Baby G gave me some much needed hugs.  Sorry for another list.  We've has a bunch lately--- 

1.) Pablo is sick. I'm not going into the details but it has to deal with his bowels and said evacuation. We thought it may have just been a stress related issue for him, coming to yet another new environment, but since it continued through the weekend, we have to call the vet. So, sick dog. Gross. Lots of cleanup involved. Plus, dog who loves people and toddler who loves dogs are hard to keep apart.

2.) VERY willful toddler. That goes without saying, I guess. She's our first, though, so we've just never been in this stage before. She is testing us like crazy and is still not extremely stable on her feet. A tall baby with a big Dutch head is just asking for trouble! It is taking constant vigilance to keep her safe. (Thanks Paul, you warned us!!) Not much unpacking, cleaning or cooking is being done. Email and blog posts are happening only during naptimes and after bedtime. I am full-time mommy, which I have never been before.

3.) Child safety standards are different here (I knew this before we arrived) and while I want to bring Geneva to the parks to blow off some steam, they scare the bejeebers out of me. Baby swingThink wooden baby swings with no crotch rail that are 4.5' off the pavers/concrete slab below. Or slides that have a small patch of sand at the bottom with a ring of bricks to keep the sand in. I envision kids cracking their head open at every turn. It is not unlike the types of playgrounds Brad and I remember from our childhood. My mommy instinct to keep my child free from harm is in overdrive. Thank god that Brad reminded me the life expectancy here is the same as the US. I was wondering how anyone made it to age 10.

4.) After the first two days of no water in the house at all, we now have water seeping from both sides of the plumbing wall, into the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom. We saw the water in the bathroom late last week and didn't think too much of it ("Hey, maybe I left the shower door open a crack."). But the water kept coming back at random times, from the area between the floor and baseboard. We couldn't figure out what was causing it. We reported a small amount of water to our rental agent on Thursday via email, then called on Friday to follow up. Within minutes, the owners agent called us and told us that a plumber would be here on Monday. Cool. We could deal with that. Late Sunday night though, I walked into the kitchen at about 1:30 AM to find water dripping from the front edge of a base cabinet (from the wood above the toe kick) and the musty smell that I originally detected was overpowering. The sink pipes were fine. This water must be coming from the wall.

Everything I know about construction says this is no good at all and we could have a serious mold issue. But wait, this is poured concrete/block construction with plaster. There is no wood framing, no sheetrock and no insulation for mold to feed on. The only "food" for mold here is the cabinetry. It seems like there must have been water before to cause the original musty smell that I noticed upon move in. I shot short videos of the water and Brad got a hold of the rental agents this morning. A plumber was over at noon and checked all of the exposed pipes and then turned everything off and checked the water meter out front.  No movement at all, so no internal leaks. Then he turned on the spigot to a drip, the meter started spinning. He said that our water issue is actually from the building next door and not coming from our wall. He confirmed that this building has had a problem with the adjacent building's water once before.  No more update as of yet as to the solution but the cabinets are still wet and the smell is horrible, so we are staying out of the kitchen until we have this resolved.

We're pushing for new base cabinets and a full clean-up of that wall. We'll keep you updated on the progress of that. We knew not everything was going to be rosy in paradise, but the last few days have been stressful indeed.

Thankfully the vet is two blocks away and is coming over tomorrow. One issue down. Yippee for small victories!!

Chivito

So tonight I just had to go out.  We went for a short walk, then enjoyed an early dinner. I had a crazy-big Chivito and a glass of wine to decompress at "Chivitos Marcos" (Corner of Louis de La Torre and Sarmiento). While the photo is not my exact sandwich, it is close, except mine was goopier and included pickle and hot pepper and was without fries. It was excellent and I will definitely be back again. Nothing like comfort food after a rough day!

A Trip to the Supermercado

Disco Supermercado I just went to the grocery store this afternoon. We're always walking so I can't buy too much each time I go to the store. I tend to go there almost every day for a little something but it's two blocks away from us, so not a big deal. Today I wanted to have a "Te Completa"  (tea or coffee with croissants, cakes and little sandwiches) at home and needed some little bakery goodies to do that. I thought I'd share my shopping list with you to give you an idea of some food costs here. Granted this was a trip of little items, including some frivolous items, but still should be worthwhile to see. Prices are based on an exchange rate of 24.5 UY pesos to $1 US and rounded up to the nearest cent. Price in pesos is listed first with no symbol (although they use both the $ and U$ here for pesos) and dollars listed second in parenthesis.

  • Olives- pitted in a clear plastic pack 360 g - 44.50 ($1.82)
  • Empanadas- Cheese and Onion, pack of 6 premade - 68.00 ($2.78)
  • 12 medialunas (mini croissants)- from the bakery sold by weight - 46.96 ($1.92)
  • Frozen Pizza- 3 cheese, onion and olive - 104.00 ($4.24)
  • Whole Milk- premium baby formula (nearly double the price of regular milk), two one-liter bags - $72.80 ($2.97)
  • Pilsen Stout Beer, large 960 mL size - 45.00 ($1.84)
  • Beer bottle deposit - 9.90 ($0.40)
  • Plastic food storage container, large 1.3 liter size - 69.90 ($2.83)
  • Plastic food storage container, small 0.6 liter size - 41.90 ($1.71)
  • Paper towels- 2 small rolls which are standard here, medium grade- 49.90 ($2.04)
  • Pepper- whole peppercorns with bottle grinder- 134.00 ($5.47)
  • Salt- 500 g box - 18.50 ($0.75)
  • Wheat crackers 200 g bag - $26.50 ($1.08)
  • Dozen Eggs - brown (side note: eggs are kept out on the shelf here. Really freaks me out.) - 42.50 ($1.74)
  • Refund of 19.80 for return of 2 beer bottles (- $0.81)

Total UY pesos 754.56 (or $30.79)

You can live inexpensively here but that really depends on how and what you eat, among other things of course. I bought no fresh fruit or veggies from the grocery store today because we purchased a few things yesterday at the Villa Biarritz feria market (not sure if this is really what it's called) and we still have bananas, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes and tomatoes left from earlier in the week. I find the feria prices are less than the grocery stores and it's so much more fun to go to the big open air markets!

We bought a few small zucchini at the feria yesterday, along with a kilo and a half of both apples and oranges (3.3 lbs each) for a total of about 85.00 ($3.47).  Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and can be quite inexpensive. Purchase locally produced and in season produce and it's even better.  This is perfect since we are a strictly veggie family at home.

Now off to crack open that big bottle of beer!

One hint: Bring a few of your own reusable shopping bags.  We have two that fold up when not in use and they are used every day.  All of the grocery stores and markets use small plastic bags, and many multiple plastic bags for each trip there.  We have tried to avoid plastic bags as much as possible ("Sin bolsa, por favor"), but still have them all over from when we forgot the reusable ones. Kudos to the Disco chain of grocery stores that has "Bio Bolsas" that are still plastic, but are supposed to decompose in 2-3 years. 

Shameless Plugs

There are a few people/services that we have used here in MVD that have gone above and beyond and have been so wonderful to us, we have to recommend  them to the world: Jorge Cassarino Etcheverry, Maria Jesús Etcheverry Negocios Inmobiliarios (rental/real estate agent) :  What is there to not to love about Jorge?   He goes the extra mile, is funny, fair and really, just a big teddy bear (wow, I rhyme, too!) Jorge was recommended to us by some peple who used him to find their house a year and a half ago. Now they are good friends.  Really though, what a nice guy, and his English isn't bad either!  He showed us numerous places over several days and showed us some differnet options that we didn't even know we wanted (we were all set for an apartment!). jc@mariajesusetcheverry.com www.mariajesusetcheverry.com

marti-aparthotelMarti Aparthotel:  Great neighborhood, big rooms, excellent staff. Ask for a top floor, they're sunnier above the tree line.  The 11th is where we stayed, one level below the breakfast room (don't worry, it is not noisy).  A small kitchen is included in the room, along with a decent sized bathroom with a tub. Every floor has a wireless access point. Federico is the contact for booking at the hotel.  He'll give you a deal if you let him know you found them here! 3325 Jose Marti between Berro and Chuccaro.  http://www.martiaparthotel.com.uy

Then a few eating establishments:

bar-62Bar 62: I hear this place gets its name from the first trolley line in the city of MVD. Well, I can't verify that, but it is some of the best food we've had here, and by best, we mean a 7:00 dinner of nothing off of the parilla because it's not ready yet, because we're out too early with a baby in tow.  Still, it's been incredible. They have an eclectic combination of sushi/tempura (veggie tempura was light and not greasy- some of the best we've had.  Looking forward to the sushi!), mediterranean salads (we've had it served differently on two occasions, both really good though)and typical Parilla fare . The waitstaff is cool, the building is beautiful and we're certainly going back for a real dinner (at the normal time of 10 PM) the first time we have a babysitter. Barreiro 3301 and Chucarro in Pocitos, 2 blocks from La Rambla. 

La Taqueria: The little taco joint that we mentioned before.  We finally got there on the night that we moved into our house.  What a great day!! Don't let the little taco stand facade fool you.  These guys know what they are doing (and with a little prodding, they can and make it HOT!).  It is a bit more expensive than a typical mexican place... but completely worth it.  As Brad put it in a recent email to two future friends from CA and their daughter who are moving to MVD in a few weeks: "We love spicy food.  We went to that Mexican place the other night (Tuesday to be exact).  They brought our the first salsa. We tried it...pretty much about as spicy as ketchup.  Then he proudly brought out the "mas picante" option.  Better, I can feel it a little bit now.  He said he could do one even "MAS picante" after a few minutes I went up to him and asked for it.  I saw the guys in the back mincing the chili pepper.  One of his buddies tried it before they brought it out. I heard him cough, turn red and reach for his drink.  They brought it to the table.  Lisa and I both filled up a chip.  It was great, but this is very much the exception". We had the veggie burrito, chicken burrito, quesadilla  and some amazing chocolate torte for desert. Heaven!!  On Jose Marti between Benito Blanco and Chuccaro in Pocitos.

Culinary Discoveries

I had read in some of the Expat forums prior to arriving here that certain products are either hard to find, extremely expensive or even non-existent in Uruguay. Specific spices, nuts (expensive), Goat's milk and prepared "ethnic" foods like Mexican are a few examples that come to mind. I am so very happy to report that while preparing for the worst, we have been very pleasantly surprised. The most common foods found here are an Italian/Spanish hybrid along with what most outsiders consider the "Argentine" Asado. We've been to one Mexican restaurant, Roma Tijuana, were quite pleased and know of only one other by Montevideo Shopping. Contrary to what some Norteamericanos think, Uruguay is NOT Mexico!!!  It is easier to find a Heineken or Stella Artois here than a Corona!

 

We packed a few things with us that we'd use frequently, like fish oil and flax supplements along with a hefty sized bag of TVP (texturized vegetable protein).  We thought it was such a specialty item, there was no way that we'd be able to find some down here.  We use it as a filler instead of meat for stews, chili, etc.  Well, lo and behold, today I found it.  

Market at Berro and Marti

There is a street market or Feria that sets up every Friday just outside of our hotel door.  Stretches one block down calle José Martí and two blocks down Pedro Francisco Berro and is mostly fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional meet, cheese, clothing or housewares stand.  I was walking through with Geneva today and wanted to get some fruit (Now which one of the 40 fruit vendors do I go to??) when I happened upon a lone vendor of spices.  He was jammed in between a few busy fruit stands and with baby in tow, I coundn't muscle my way in to the stand for a closer look, but my superior height allowed me to see the labels of the items, including bags of a chunky, recognizable, dried product labeled "Protein de Soya".  Bingo!  It's here.  It's around. Our bag will probably last us a long while but it's good to know that reserves exist!

The whole atmosphere surrounding the discovery was made more wonderful by the old accordian player sitting on the corner.  As he hunched over his well loved instrument, I dug for some change and put it in his tin.  I am a sucker for the accordian.   

Later today, long after the market packed up and traffic once again took over those streets, we found that the Mexican restaurant down calle José Martí in the other direction was open for business.  After several days of watching and waiting while they set up, we can't wait to try it out.  It is more of a restaurant stall, with a vey small but cute storefront and outdoor seating (picture to come tomorrow).  No matter, I'm sure we'll end up there tomorrow to try out their veggie burrito (Brad) and some wonderful meat option (me) all washed down by a few lovely Corona....