What do you eat on mission trips?
It is a good question and one that we hear often when we get home and speak with churches. To start off, good advice during orientation generally keeps volunteers away from foods and situations that might hurt you. There are many food vendors on the streets, for instance, that are off limits. Tap water from many sources is not recommended...and ice from tap water can sneak up on you and cause any number of maladies.
Yesterday we visited a panaderia (bakery) for breakfast and enjoyed ham filled pastries (pastelitos), something that looked like american breakfast pizza called american empenadas and conchitos (ham and cheese filled pastries). Coffee is served in small cups...and is the equivalent of high octane american coffee. Fruit drinks are popular. Pineapple, orange, mango, and passion fruit are generally available year-round...the pineapple that is in season right now is especially delicious.
For lunch we have eaten a traditional Venezuelan meal: large pizza sized corn breads (cachapa) eaten with butter and creamy white cheese, roasted chicken (pollo azado), yucca root (think very large french fries), fried bananas ( platano maduro frito), roast beef, and guasaca (a green guacamole-type sauce for the meat).
At the home of one of the mission chuch members last night, we ate arepas (baked ham and cheese pastry sandwiches) followed by thes leche torta (three milk cake).
No one is going hungry and every one has adjusted well to different foods and new tastes. The only real surprises that we have witnessed are the looks of restaurant staff whenever we enter a restaurant. It is either a how can we ever feed all of the peeople look or wow, what a great looking group of tall americans (i.e. are they single?).