America is so great! Dishwashers and laundry machines and coffee makers and cooking spray and canned pumpkin and Panera Bread. I missed living in the land of the easy.
I also missed living in the land of vegetables. Benin has delicious fruits and veggies, but the selection is limited if you want something other than mangoes, pineapples, papaya, bananas, tomatoes, and onions. While I’ve eaten a few unhealthy meals, I think you’ll see a common theme here:
Panera Bread, I love you! I’ve already eaten there twice!
I’m bringing back a few kilos of black beans so that I can continue to make delicious tortilla soup and black bean burritos. I’m always surprised when burritos, tacos, and similar tortilla + protein + veggie dishes aren’t on people’s regular rotations. They’re fast, healthy, and easy to do mass prep for.
Mom’s family goes to a Chinese buffet every year for Thanksgiving. Nobody wants to cook for a 15 people, and the holiday’s always been about family for us, not food. Who cares if we don’t eat a turkey? We get to see each other! I hadn’t seen my cousin Jennifer in over 7 years! On Dad’s side, I got to see aunts and uncles I hadn’t seen since I left for Benin almost 6 years ago. Wow.
I love modern conveniences, but I love my life in Benin more. The one thing that could bring me back here is family. I didn’t realize how much I missed everyone until I was sad to leave at the end of the day.
The Chinese buffet had a salad bar! Whoohoo! Don’t think I was all healthy and eschewed the fried stuff. That’s what seconds are for!
It’s been a great vacation so far. Mom and I went to Walmart and the grocery store so I could stock up on supplies like fat-free sugar-free Jello, Pop-tarts, and other awesomely processed fake foods. I can’t live without Splenda, and I just discovered sugar-free chocolate syrup. Mmmmm. Bring on the chemicals! What are your favorite conveniences and fake foods?