We have moved into our apartment in Colombo. It is basic but in a decent location because we are close to two grocery stores. One (Food City – nothing like the Food City we know in the South) is close by and I can pick up essentials: milk, eggs, and some decent produce. The tomatoes are all over-ripe and I wonder if this is how people use them here.
I could spend hours in the grocery stores looking at spices and writing down ingredients to Google later and learn about. At the Food City they only sell chicken and fish. (Remember in Sri Lanka the population is mostly Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim. Hindus don’t eat beef, Buddhists don’t eat meat, and Muslims don’t eat pork.) I was sweating it a bit because James won’t eat seafood or eggs (!). What in the world am I going to make to eat? There are also no canned beans and the avocados are unripe. I was starting to think that I'd have to make only chicken and pasta for the next three months.
Thankfully, today we tried a different “superstore” that is about a 20 minute walk from our apartment. We set out at 9:30 a.m. and walked carefully, watching for tuk tuks speeding by and hesitating at crosswalks because we weren’t sure if drivers stop for pedestrians. We followed the lead of a small but stout Sri Lankan man (everyone seems tiny here) and he stepped out in front of traffic! Surprisingly no one honked or seemed annoyed, they just slammed on the brakes and we crossed – almost running - behind our fearless leader.
After entering the superstore, our eyes lit up. This looks more like a super Target than the market with willy-nilly items. (Okay, not really, but think of a third-world version of a super Target and you’ve got it.) I started wandering the aisles with my mouth slightly open. I saw Ponds Cold Cream, L’Oreal shampoo, vinegars of all kinds, pasta sauce, and at the meat counter – minced beef. I also noticed cuts of lamb! We are going to be okay. What I’m most interested in, however, are the piles and piles of fresh curry leaves that are found in the produce section. I’ve watched two cooking shows featuring a Sri Lankan chef who is also Australian (Peter Kuruvita). He uses curry leaves at the beginning of most dishes with a mixture of ginger, onion, and garlic. I’m on it! I hope to record my culinary journey either here or in a written journal but I'd like to learn some easy authentic Sri Lankan dishes.
(Leave it to me to write about food in one of the first posts from this fascinating island in the Indian Ocean.)