Thursday, August 18, 2011

Figuring Out The Calories and product labels!

While in Canada we have so many food choices and different brands, over here the choices are limited. One of the places that most foreigners go to shop is Psah Lucky or Lucky Market. It is the one of the few supermarkets that we have here and it is about an 8 minute walk from my apartment so its quite convenient as I am missing my walks and use this as a way to get a mild form of exercise until I get a better routine. Lucky is like a western supermarket and so you will see many expats or rich Cambodians going there to buy their groceries. The local brands are much cheaper to buy as many of them are imported from Vietnam or Thailand. There are a few western brands but the prices are almost double what we would pay in North America so one quickly learns to be creative in their eating and shopping habits. Thankfully, I tend to crave more Asian foods over here because it is so hot, so I don't feel like I am missing out. Since the portions here are much smaller, one tends to eat less and drink more, so in a sense there is less chance of being obese.

Ingredients listed at the back of the package in Khmer
One of the challenges of living in Cambodia is trying to figure out what ingredients are in the food you buy. Unlike North America where one can simply look at the back of a package and find out the calorie count and all the other materials that goes into a product, here it is not as easy. For one thing, none of it is written in English and secondly, not everything listed highlights the calories so if you are trying to eat healthy, well, better pray and ask God to show you what you should be eating or better yet cook your own food based on what's available.
This bag of local chips is about $0.80 compared with $4.00 for a bag of Doritos!

Thankfully the Lord has provided some wonderful expat and local friends here who know my culinary limitations and so they seem to know when I am in need of a home cook meal. But there are a variety of restaurants (French, Lebanese, Indian, Asian, Australian, Khmer) near where I live along with a couple coffee shops that do a great soy latte,  so I definitely will not starve. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to experimenting once I have more of a routine in my schedule. For now, I have discovered a wonderful rotisserie chicken at Lucky Market that provides a good back up for dinner along with my usual cucumbers and tomatoes! The perfect meal for a hot night!

The other day I was trying to figure out what toiletry supplies to buy to clean my bathroom. Again, one can find a few overpriced Western brands but I opted for these local brands(see below) based on the descriptive pictures on the labels. This is all part of the fun of shopping locally and better yet, for someone like me who hates spending money on cleaning utensils, cheap is good as long as it does the job, even if I can't read the instructions!

 Instructions in Khmer or Thai--- not sure. But thank goodness for the picture labels that explains the product use!

So part of adjusting to life here is learning to embrace the cultural differences in food, in availability of products and learning to welcome these changes with an attitude of thankfulness and with a sense of humor. In Cambodia, it is so easy to focus on 'what this country doesn't have or what it lacks' but if anything this is the age old trick of our enemy who wants us to focus on what we do not have by tempting us to focus on the one tree in the middle of the garden that we have been advised not to touch. God gave us access to the entire garden except for that one tree but instead of looking at the abundance before us, Satan tempts us to look at what we lack or our inadequacies.It is an attempt to feed discontent in our spirits by shifting our focus on the negative.  The apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13 - I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  So in these early days, I have been reminded by one of my mentors to follow the 'cloud', follow the presence of God as He leads me in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Look to Him daily and do not move until He says move. Truly the importance of daily keeping our eyes fixed on Christ despite the visible reality, enables us to live in His strength and to experience His joy in the midst of change and transition.  As a sermon I read recently said, all of our experiences, tests or situations that we are called to embrace are there to develop us into the person we need to be to live out our destiny. Everything we go through has been aligned by God to forge into us the person He has called us to be. 

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