Maldives Rowing Volunteer

Food and drink - Something that those of you who know me well plays a big part in my life and it still does, although not in the same way it used to.  Food now plays an important part in my day in that it takes up so much time, both in eating and in thinking about it.  I eat all my meals at a cafe, the oddly named ‘Food Palace’  which does have a huge menu which I am currently working my way through all the reasonably priced options, including the infamous chicken fried noodle and chicken fried rice and of course an overloading of tuna every which way you like.  There are many western dishes on the menu including burgers and pasta but at twice the price of other dishes I have yet to try them barring one bad experience with a particularly gristly lasagne (or lazaniga as it is in the menu) which I am frankly terrified to repeat.  I think maybe in my old age I am becoming fussy but if meat is going to be on the bone I like to be able to see the bones.  So although officially I cannot complain about the food (I spent four months living on rice and beans and porridge once) I cannot keep the food fantasies (which became a good friend during the aforementioned four months) at bay.  Of course there are many shops here and chips on the menu so I have all the imitation Pringles, cuttlefish snacks and slightly melted chocolate I could want but nothing can stop me dreaming of all the food I take for granted at home, including brown toast, sausages (not horrific pink chicken sausages), yummy fresh filled pasta with no gristle, cheese not out of a can and most importantly SALAD!  Fresh fruit and vegetables are very expensive here due to the obvious lack of fertile places to grow anything, many of the locals grow vegetables in any containers they have, outside their flats.  A small plate of salad in the cafe is more expensive than a big plate of noodles and as I am not paying for my food price is a bigger concern than it might otherwise be ( I am sure my father will be surprised to hear that!)  I have eaten very little in the way of fresh vegetables since I have been here.  Maybe the hardest thing is having so many food channels on the television so I am bombarded with what good English food is all about.  Luckily a bout of stomach bug following my episode with the dengue has meant food has not been such an issue - but I would still kill for a half hour in a Waitrose to buy for a fry up or an evening in any of pizza express, Zizzi, Strada, Loch Fyne etc, or a roast dinner......the list is potentially endless.

Now for the good things about food here – in general eating out is cheap for expats, a fish curry with rice and water to drink costs about £2, a drink is about 60p so relatively expensive compared to the food, and the curries are really good; not as spicy as I was warned about, I cannot quite cope with the chicken one (too much bone and skin) but fish curry is my current meal of choice!

Right on to drink; something many people (myself definitely included) were worried about how I would cope with the illegality of one of my favourite substances, although as those of you know me well will know has a tendency to disagree with me.  So far it has not been a problem or something I have even thought about too much,  I think that this is the longest I have been without a drop of alcohol for longer than I care to remember (and longer than it legally should be!).  I cannot lie and say that the thought of a cold beer or glass of wine as the sun disappears would not be appreciated, but the lack of alcohol anywhere means that it does not enter my thoughts too often.  Maybe alcohol is all just advertising and peer pressure?  No I really do miss it but currently having been ill for a while with many of the symptoms of a killer hangover the thought of alcohol is a quite unpleasant one so maybe I should hold onto that for the next six months!

Please go out have a drink and a delicious meal and spare a thought for me – I am dreaming of Christmas already and it is only May, eeeek!

On the plus (ish) side though due to the lack of tasty food and prolonged illness none of my trousers fit me, even the new ones I have just been sent – I am going to have to hold them up with string soon as I cannot find a belt big enough for me, another of the problems of being a giant in a land of five footers!

Sorry about the lack of photos I have been a bit slack with the camera will be better next time - promise!



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