Just wanted to take this opportunity, as I am dribbling honey on my laptop, to think through the nutrition here at school. I posted a few days ago about the common available foods around campus
- Chili chop | Battered and deep fried chili pepers
- Koka | Think Thai style top-ramen (a little spicy)
- Chow Mein | Koka, but with less water and more oil
- Fried Rice | is common too - mounds and mounds of it.
- Puri | A sopapia like bread that I like with honey, which leaves your fingers nice and greasy
- Pazey | Think bloomin' onion in a small haystack style, add shaved chilies
- Kewa Bali | The potato equivalent of an empanada
- + Egg | to any of the above for protein (this world is mostly vegetarian)
The menu diversity leaves something to be desired - but it is far better than the mess hall where every day there is only fried rice for breakfast, kewa (potato) datsi for lunch and emma datsi for dinner with dhal. All dishes are watered down so there is enough to go around. The rotation of dinner datsis sometimes includes sag (spinach) which is an extreme take on fiber for the digestive system. Most Bhutanese will bring a cup of their own eazy to dinner. It's a powdery consistency of chili flakes, chili powder, salt and a little oil. They add this to all dishes by the spoonful and sometimes eat it on it's own, pinched between their fingers. This last habit results in many tummy aches and possibly even ulcers.
As we are guests at ILCS, part of our stipened goes to the food at the dining hall. They deduct 2000NU for 90 meals a month (3/day X 30 days). When you do the conversion, that's $29 per month, roughly 33 cents per meal. I think this offers up an explanation to the quality of the "nutrition."
In a quick report, I can say that my digestion does suffer on a regular basis. Mostly from the spicy, but sometimes from things that are not properly prepared or out of date. The details, I will leave out of this discussion, but I warn others that it's not something you can depend on. I find that my energy is relatively low. I want to sleep very often after meals and find myself snacking on crackers frequently. With the consumption of powdered milk, I experience teenage-like breakouts. Just yesterday a boy asked me "Oh what happened to your face... oh pimples." While it kind of made me feel young again, it also struck my ego deeply and I couldn't help but laugh from the intense awkwardness of his shamelessly direct question.
Today I had a classic moment in Trongsa - I ordered a non-veg burger. Like most westerners, I was expecting a small beef patty on a bun to arrive, but much to my surprise, I was served a fish burger. The patty was made of fleshy red fish (which has a muddy flavor and a mushy texture) mixed with datsi (the local cheese, feta like texture; less tangy and less salty). In replacement of lettuce, there was cabbage (which I really love). In place of ketchup there was BBQ sauce. And I am pleased to say that it was, although unpredicted, quite delicious.