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?