Living in another country you find that you cannot always find the things you are accustomed to from back home. Take for instance baking soda, I have searched the shelves for it from Quito, through Puerto Lopez to now Salinas and it is not to be found in the familiar orange box and if they do have it it’s not with the cooking items like baking powder and yeast – oh by the way yeast is called Levadura Activa Seca and baking powder is called Royal Polvo Para Hornear. I read a recent post on one of the forums, that said you look for it under the name bicarbonato I have that written on my list to ask the manager of Mi Comisariato this week. I like using it in the refrigerator and freezer as well as in closets and drawers to remove odors. In my search, spices such as turmeric, mustard seed, celery seed and coriander are also not easy to come by, I found mustard powder and I may have found coriander but as to the rest I’m still looking.
Cleaning towels are missing, I find any assortment of sizes of those Scotch-Brite pads but no real cleaning towels. Normally I would go into the auto area of a department or food store and find great cotton towels – 4-6 for less than $3, not pretty to look at but wonderful for cleaning up spills – the equivalent that I’ve found is a heavy weaved, harsh material that is not really absorbent in picking up spills. I searched for dried peppers (Ancho, New Mexico and Poblano) finally found two types in a small stall at one of the outside markets in Quito, they were in large sacks and the lady could not explain (not because of her lack of knowledge but because of my lack of Spanish) to me what they were called – it will be a surprise when I cook with them I guess. I have also been on the lookout for a spice/coffee grinder – not in my stores currently. We like white grits so I have substituted a yellow corn and it works out beautifully. Hot spicy Italian sausage I have learned to make myself, so you don’t have a casing, you roll it up in plastic wrap cover in tin foil and place in the freezer – then you can cut it into the size piece you want for your lasagna or sausage patties as you need them. Another items is the lasagna noodles that don’t require pre-cooking, I’m not a fan I feel they get a bit mushy so I’m in search of the old-fashioned type or I guess I can start to make my own. And speaking of noodles it depends where you live just how long you cook them – I bought a bag of baby bow-ties called Lazito and the directions states Costa 6-8 minutos, Sierra 8-10 minutos. I have also found that baking here on the coast takes longer.
You are not going to find everything that you had back home, but if you keep an open mind, look for substitutes and work at it a bit you can do and have just about everything you need here in “Paradise”.