Sunday, September 19, 2010

el "parásito"

This week I've been "recovering" from my parasite. I'm still not convinced it's cleansed from my system, as it's kind of a crap shoot as to whether I'll have gastrointestinal woes (sorry for the bad pun).

I've been taking 1000 mg per day of Metronidazol, plus folic acid. And I've been drinking as much yogurt as I can (it sold out at the grocery store down the street a couple days ago, so I had to go to the fancy supermarket in Miramar).

The hard part has been the diet. No products with sugar. So I haven't been eating vegetables or fruits for a week, and it's really hard. Even harder is coping with my sweet tooth, which is reminding me of its existence every time they bring out a delicious dessert at dinner. Actually I'm reminded of my sweet tooth every waking minute.

My mind has started some sort of coping mechanism where all I can think about is food, and home. I'm pretty surprised by the kind of food-memories it's conjuring up spontaneously when I least expect it. And I'm not just fantasizing about my favorite home-cooked meals and favorite cookie recipes (although that makes up a large part of it). My body is telling me over and over: pizza, snickers bars, big juicy hamburgers with barbecue sauce, greasy onion rings...These are things that I eat rarely, I would say. But right now it's all my little body wants.

I haven't been perfect following my diet this week, and maybe I'm starting to have some sympathy for people who go on diets or who are diabetic. Basically, it sucks not eating sugar. The second day I broke down with the rice pudding at dinner (it was so good, worth it). Twice I was going so crazy for sweets in my room that I ate the secret ration of fun-size dark chocolate mint milky way bars (who knew milky way bars were what I would crave here).

Now my junk-food complex is manifesting itself in planning for the future, i.e. when I can eat these delicious sugar-laden morsels again. I went to the supermarket in Miramar (the "embassy" grocery store because it used to be frequented by ambassadors and I imagine it still is). They had exotic items such as: apples, peanut butter (made in USA), strawberry jelly, soy milk, chocolate bars, spices, chips, canned fruits and vegetables, flour, cake mixes...I bought the ingredients for my favorite, "oatmeal school cookies," except we couldn't find whole wheat flour (obviously not a surprise) or baking powder (big surprise). Apparently people don't bake things in Cuba. Other big realization of the day: there is no real milk here, only the powdered kind. As soon as I wrenched open the peanut butter when I got home, my mind immediately flew to that trusty peanut butter companion: milk. Oh how I miss my Snowville Creamery.

I find it a little ironic that since Cubans are so obsessed with brand names in their clothes (anything with a logo will sell here, actually the more ostentatious, the better) yet when it comes to food, brand names are almost nonexistent. They don't have selection here, so why give it a name that differentiates this product from the next product? Because there is no other product to compete with. There's only ONE kind of mustard here. You only get one choice. You can have any color as long as it's black.

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