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Culture Shock! Refrigerator Schmigerator

In the United States we keep everything in the refrigerator, but when that refrigerator doesn’t exist, how does life change?  Not too much, in Colombia and Ecuador.  Most people keep eggs and milk for a few days without refrigeration.  Even those who do have fridges never put eggs in there!  The trick is to only buy what you need for the next few days.  We haven’t had any problems with eggs or milk so far.

Also, when people cook and have leftovers, they just keep them covered until the next day, when they heat them up again before serving.  Many restaurant’s breakfasts includes some sort of rice/beans/hot food that is most likely leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

Do our stomachs grumble occasionally?  Yes.  Are we contracting any serious illnesses or being poisoned?  No.  As a former restaurant server, this whole thing just makes me think about the food safety standards in the U.S., and how strict and particular they are.  Are we just being super paranoid in the good ol’ U.S. of A., I wonder?  The conclusion I usually come to is that our U.S. safety standards are good, of course!  BUT we should be more lax when it comes to issues of wasting food.  Did you forget and leave your doggie bag of restaurant leftovers in the car overnight?  Eat it!  It’s probably fine.  If things are a couple days past the expiration date, but aren’t growing mold or stanking, they’re probably fine too!

Am I just gross?  Has backpacking on a budget left me with no standards and no shame?  Or do you agree that we’re often WAAAY too picky about this stuff in the U.S?

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About Carrie

Carrie's got the traveling bug and thinks "settling down" is overrated. Too many people to meet, places to see, and languages to learn!

Posted on December 21, 2011, in Colombia, Culture Shock!, Ecuador, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Very interesting post! I like it and I think sometimes people leaving in the “developed” world are too paranoid. I always use to eat leftovers and I have to say that sometimes are better than just prepared food! Enjoy your travel and good luck! 🙂

  2. Waaaaay to safe-conscious here in the US. My family are immigrants from the Philippines, so they are used to street food hawkers. The way they sell the street food in the Philippines will never , ever happen here in the US, but no one has gotten sick from the food over there. Maybe, the people have developed immunity, I don’t know. I’ve tried the street food ( bbqs of all kinds, like chicken intestines, etc ~.~, but they were soooooo delicious, and my fragile American stomach didn’t get sick )

    Cheers from California.

    • I love the street food here, despite the fact that a lot of it sits out all day at “unsafe” temperatures. Most of the best things I’ve eaten would never pass health code in the U.S! I also subscribe to the theory that what doesn’t kill you makes you (and your stomach) stronger!

  3. Our society is too lawsuit-friendly. When people can sue over McDonald’s serving coffee hot and win a million dollars, the system has failed, and over-regulation occurs. I agree that with you. We are making ourselves more sensitive to bacteria and less resilient by trying to sanitize everything to death.

  1. Pingback: A love letter to my new favorite condiment… «

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