While we do bring some food items to the boat in our annual pilgrimage back, we try to limit the amount of stuff we bring from home. After all cruising is supposed to be an adventure and a big part of the adventure can be culinary! I’m always amazed at cruisers that pack their boats full of “just add water” mixes and foodstuffs from home.
People eat everywhere and part of the exploration into local culture is to see what you can find to eat. We love going to outdoor markets and discovering new foods …. of course, that requires a conversation, usually in Spanish, to determine what the strange item might be and how to best cook it! Prices are usually better in outdoor markets and you get fresher food, what could be better than that! Sometimes, they’re not so convenient to anchorages, requiring a taxi or collectivo ride, but they’re always worth the effort! Be sure to take several tote bags with you since merchants may not have bags.
In every country we’ve visited so far, we’ve found new favorites. When we return to the USA, we actually miss some of them. But alas, they’re not available here. David’s favorite cereal, for example, is Kellogg’s Kompleat. I swear they just dump together anything that’s left over at the end of a production run, box it up and send it off labeled “Kompleat”. Since it was a Kellogg’s product, we assumed we could get it in the USA — wrong! We even had a friend that works at Kellogg’s check for us – but no, it’s distributed only in Central America. Go figure. 🙁
Here are some of our favorites:
1. Far to the left is Zambos spicy plantain chips, available in Honduras and sometimes in Panama. Other than that, we haven’t seen them. When we started cruising the NW Caribbean in 2004, even large grocers didn’t stock chips – only individual packages. And even those ended up fairly well crushed. Who knows why!
2. My two favorite cookies are front and center in the photo, McVities Ginger Nut cookies and Maria cookies. Although not all Maria’s are created equal, so test several (they’re cheap) before you buy a dozen packages … or more! When we found these cookies, we’d stock up for months!
3. No trip to the NW or SW Caribbean would be complete without cases and cases of Clos cabernet … “It’s not GOOD wine, but it’s CLOS” — was a cruiser’s favorite saying. Wine snobs need not bother, but for those that enjoy a litre box of Chilean wine for less than $2 a box, indulge yourselves! When we first discovered Clos in the Rio Dulce, we thought we struck pay dirt, there was only one variety – cabernet and it cost just under $3 a box. By the time we got to Panama, it was a third less expensive and there were multiple varieties of reds as well as whites. It stores easily and keeps well, just don’t forget and leave a box hidden under the floorboards for several years! Actually we did this accidentally, of course. The box came out all moldy, but the wine inside was still good!
4. Hydroponic lettuce from Roatan. YUM! It wasn’t distributed outside the Bay Islands, and primarily Roatan. It wasn’t cheap, but WOW what great lettuce. The first time we experienced it was when we anchored in West End Roatan, our first time to anywhere in Roatan. Another cruiser acquaintence stopped on their way to town to ask if I wanted them to pick me up a bag of hydroponic lettuce if there was any. I had no idea it was such a high demand item, but of course, I said yes. From then on, we bought it anytime we saw it. Unfortunately it doesn’t keep well to stock up for months!
5. Lisette’s Secret Sauce is a sweet hot spicy delight — especially for fish! We loved it and stocked up when we could find it … only in Belize.
6. And of course, Marie Sharp’s hot sauces all began in Belize – and they’re marketed both in the food stores and in all the tourist souvenir shops – buy them in the food stores, they’re less expensive! And stock up, if you like hot sauce, they are available elsewhere, but there’s something about buying a product in the country it’s from that makes it better! 🙂
Please leave a comment and let us know if you have favorites that aren’t available elsewhere – we’re not sure where we’re headed next, but we want to make sure we don’t miss anything!