Sunday, September 26, 2010

Noodled Out

Yesterday morning I was sitting on the couch with my husband checking emails and whatnot when I was seized by a tremendous craving.

“I have a craving,” I announced to him.
“For what?” he dutifully inquired.
“For anything that tastes like it is supposed to.”

First I longed for a strawberry milkshake made from real hard strawberry ice cream, a double thick shake craving that immediately morphed into an urge for scrambled eggs and bacon, which then continued on to become an urge for good Mexican food washed down with a chocolate shake.

Don’t get me wrong, the food here is good... or rather the Ukrainian food here is good. We have found a cheap Ukrainian cafeteria where the two of us can fill up for under $15. The food is good quality but it is always a surprise. I go through the line and visually investigate pan after pan of casseroles, salads, fried meats... looking for ingredients that I love (or hate) and then point to the dishes I want. Once we get seated and start eating I find out what I really got... some days it’s good and some days it is... um, not what I expected.

Things that exist at home, like steak or caesar salads or pizza, just do not taste right here, so going out to restaurants is always (slight) hit or (big) miss. In the beginning it was kind of funny but now it is frustrating. Even chips (Pringles and Lays) and candy (Twix and Snickers) taste odd.

Quail eggs (and tomatoes) in my caesar salad...


Before we got here, I had a plan. I was going to grocery shop and cook for us. We would use the money we saved eating out to... well... eat out. But, all I have to cook on is a two-burner gas stove top and a microwave oven. The apartment came stocked with one large frying pan and one large pot. They can’t both fit on the stove top together. And anything recognizable in the grocery store is imported and costs ten times more than I want to spend, and of course it doesn’t taste like it is supposed to because it is imported from Europe not the US.

I have perused five or so grocery stores hoping to find something that will be easy to cook and that will taste ok. A few weeks ago we found the Ukrainian version of Ramen noodles, and they taste good, better than our Ramen noodles (though maybe not... it has been about twenty years since I ate Ramen noodles at home, so who knows.) And so now we eat Ramen noodles... a lot... practically every day (feels like college all over again... minus the Kraft macaroni and cheese).

Our Pantry...


I am noodled out. I know this because of the random cravings I am getting on and off all day everyday now. Then yesterday evening we Skyped with the kids at home. My sweet Gecko popped up in front of the computer holding a melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly browned slice of bacon. I was fixated. With a big grin, he took a bite, and I nearly passed out. I think I am past ready to come home. I am so ready that I might wander over to McDonald’s today and order a fish sandwich just on the off chance that it will taste like a real McD’s filet-o-fish.

In other news... there is no news on Autumn. We are not allowed to go visit her. Tomorrow we are supposed to go pick her up, either from the orphanage or from the hospital if she is still in there.

Modeling the hat we bought her in Romania...


Our visit with Masha yesterday was wonderful. She is such a delight, so playful and energetic. However, after about an hour of being there with her, she went into the room that leads to her living area and started closing the doors. We called out to her, “Paka, paka?” (bye bye?) and she poked her head out and waved goodbye to us. I walked her back to her rooms and she turned and waved at me again. I see this as a very good sign that she is becoming sure of us, knowing that we will be back for her. She has also started to become more affectionate with me, hugging me longer, running to me to avoid a caregiver...


One of my favorite families is arriving in Kyiv tonight. They are adopting Makayla. This means that there are about six families here in the city today. I am hoping we can all get together for dinner tonight or tomorrow... probably at TGIF’s, which doesn’t taste like TGIF’s but is very tolerant of big groups of Americans and has an English-speaking wait staff :-)


Marianne said...

So, what's the first thing you're going to eat when you hit American soil?? I told Joel to pick me up a big Diet Coke from McDonald's. I think that is great that so many RR families will be there all at once at TGIFs!! Have lots of fun!!

Sandie Flannery said...

Did you try the TEquila House? Good Mexican food!
Address: D-2, Spas'ka 8A M Kntraktove Ploscha tel# (+380)44 417 03 58
I think the M is the metro stop but am not sure. It had excellant food and we ate there frequently last year with a lot of the families! They spoke English also. It was just a short Metro ride and walk. Well worth it!

TUC said...

Oh Sandie, thank you! We will check it out. Lol, you should be a Kyiv/Vorzel tour guide.

Looking Up said...

Glad that you will be able to pick Autumn up tomorrow. Hoping that she is well. God bless you & all of the families in the Ukraine. Be safe.

Tina said...

Happy to read that you will be picking up Autumn tomorrow, I hope she is doing well. So exciting to have so many families there together, I am sure it will be great to meet up and do all of you good as well. I can't wait to read about what Lacey has to say about Makayla and I hope tomorrow she feels a little better than what she was feeling on arrival.

Rochelle said...

WOW 6 families there at the same time. Awesome. I hope you get to meet up with Lacey and Ray.
Praying for Autumn and good news tomorrow.

Ann Kroeker said...

I love TUC crackers when I'm visiting in Belgium, but they won't do much to quell a hankering for something American. Bless your tastebuds as you bless the babies!

Danielle said...

What?! You are tired of potatoes and cabbage? How could that possibly be? Maybe you are just not putting enough mayo on it? Hehe :) I want to find that Mexican food restaurant, sounds yummy.

Anonymous said...

Sending good thoughts about picking up Autumn today.


Ann Kroeker said...

It just occurred to me how appropriate TUC crackers are for The Unknown Contributor!

Melissa M said...

When we were in India we ate LOTS of Ramen too....

The McEacherns said...

Have you made grilled cheese sandwiches yet? Just an idea for a change of pace. And make sure you check out Pizza Celantano... there are several of them. The one off Independence Square has an English menu and some English speaking staff. The pizza is okay, but the potato al forno is amazingly good! Good borsht, salmon, crepes, etc.

DownTownDan said...

This is funny. Really funny. I never thought about a land full of foods you love... that don't taste quite right. That sounds like some sort of purgatory.

Ramen with lots of chopped up veggies and some torn up deli meat is absolutely delicious. For about three days, at least. Then you will hate it.

For a bit of variety, don't forget couscous. Ramen's pretentious cousin. You can cook that in one pot. You can add all sorts of things to couscous.

Also, it's easy to overlook good salad, but surely they can't mess up salad. Do they sell roasted chickens in the grocery store there? Am I showing my ignorance of eastern Europe with that question? Whatever. Buy a chicken and make a big, beautiful salad in your one large pot. Top it with chunks of roast chicken. And then pour on some weird dressing that tastes a bit off because you couldn't read half of the stuff on the label. Place the pot in the center of your card table and gracefully serve using two forks as tongs because of course you don't have salad tongs in that damn little makeshift kitchen. Grab your pepper shaker (because you don't have a pepper grinder either and you meant to buy one but forgot) and top it off with a light sprinkle. Deeelicous!

Or you could just have ramen again.

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