What’s for Supper?

(written May 26th, 2017)

This week, now that fruits, vegetables and eggs from the city have either been eaten or spoiled, my diet has consisted primarily of granola, rice, peanuts/peanut butter, and popcorn.  Good thing I truly love all these foods.  To spice it up however, I was given meat three time by Neno friends – fish, paca, and get this – alligator meat!



Woohoo!  Major score for someone who loves adding unusual foods to her menu.  Did I like it?  Silly question.  Obviously!  I make up my mind to like things before they ever enter my mouth, (which is the exact opposite of certain three-year-olds I have known) which makes a big difference.  Besides, how can you go wrong with deep-fried meat?  Delicious!  Actually, to be perfectly honest, that day I was so congested with a severe cold that I couldn’t taste the alligator meat much at all.  It was probably the crunchy texture which was most enjoyable.  The meat itself was white, looked exactly like the meat of some of the fish in our river, whose names I cannot remember in any language, because there are so many it is easy to mix them up.  It wasn’t tender and flaky like many fish are, but firm, bodied, yet without being tough or hard to chew.


Due to the cold, I cannot offer a proper Food-Network style commentary.  I did notice the smell in my pot afterwards seemed pretty strong, so perhaps the taste would be as well.  It seemed like a fairly fatty meat also.


P.S. (written July 15, 2017)  A few weeks after the above experience, I was given alligator meat again.  Having long since recovered from the cold, I was able to truly enjoy this exotic cuisine.  This time, the meat still had the hide attached, which made prep a bit intimidating, but the hide was surprisingly easy to remove with the proper technique.   I deep-fried it again, and shared it with three other people (city Brasilians, not Neno).  They all raved about it and asked how I cooked it so perfectly.  So apparently, somehow, I am a natural at cooking alligator meat.  Who would have thought?  That should look good on a resumé someday.


In reality, it’s hard to go wrong with anything deep-fried…not much talent necessary to cut something into chunks, season it with salt, and leave it in hot oil until it develops a crispy crust.  And no, alligator meat, does not taste like chicken, if you were wondering.  It could easily pass for fish, however, with the added bonus of not having pinbones.



Weather Report from the Jungle

Winter has come to the Amazon, my friends!  Okay, no snowstorms or ice skating, but my coconut oil has actually solidified.  And the other morning, I could see my breath.  What temperature does that happen at?  Waking up cold between 2 and 4 in the morning has become standard practice.  I tried putting on more warm clothes before going to bed, but then ended up waking up sweaty first, taking off the extra clothes, and still waking up later cold, to put them back on.  The cold at night has lasted about 3 weeks already.  I have a blanket, but it is too bad I forgot my sleeping bag in the city.  Won’t forget next “winter,” that’s for sure.

Yesterday morning, my hands were freezing cold (thanks Dad and Grandma Cross, for the “cold hands and feet syndrome” inherited from both of you  🙂 ).  Therefore, one of my goals in figuring out where to spend time after breakfast was finding a place with a fire.  Not much of a challenge, as all my Neno friends feel the cold much more than I do.  Although I did keep my hoodie on until 9:15, which might be this winter’s record.  Unfortunately, despite the frigid nights, noonday temperatures are still on the hot side.  Not nearly as bad as September and October will be, but hotter than a Lewis County girl prefers.

I wish I had a thermometer to find out what the temperature range from coldest to hottest in a 24-hour period is, but I can tell it is pretty drastic.  Can’t be good for the immune system.

Too bad we can’t average out the temperatures so it would be neither too cold nor too hot in a day, without daily “temperature shocks” to our system.  Although I must say that I, for one, am still very thankful for the reprieve from the scorching summer days, when it is already way too hot by 8 AM.

I am still in the village, by the way, and had the chance to come to “The Farm” a few miles away (across the river) with a Neno family, so thought even a quick weather report might make up somewhat for the lack of Friday posts for the month of July.

In other news, last weekend, I finally got the chance to travel with a Neno family to another Neno village, about 1 1/2 hours away, for a celebration being held there.  This was a really great chance to meet more people, build friendships, listen to and practice the language, and experience lots of culture.  And my friends seemed really excited about the chance to take their “resident gringa” and language/culture learner along.  They have already asked me to go with them to another celebration scheduled for mid-September in a different village.  I hope to participate in as many of these opportunities as possible, especially during dry season when the roads are better.