Saturday, October 15, 2005

Barter and Trade

There are things you just can't get in Tbilisi. You want a sub sandwich? Especially a roast beef one with provolone? Not gonna happen. You can't get decent cheddar cheese. No ricotta at all. Cream cheese? You can get it, but it's not "real" cream cheese. It has a funky taste and the texture isn't good for cheesecake. Lettuce? They only have one kind. We call it Georgian lettuce because it's not a type I've ever seen before. Forget about romaine or any other fancy shmancy variety.

But there are also things you can't get in Yerevan, Armenia. No broccoli. No lighter fluid. No spicy ketchup.

Big deal, you may be thinking. You don't live in Armenia. Who cares? Ah, but see, David goes to Armenia every 4 to 6 weeks to work. And he stays for a week or two. And he has gotten very friendly with the people at the Embassy there, friendly enough that when they found out we were going to Yerevan last weekend for a little vacation and shopping, they started emailing him and asking him to bring the things they can't get there.

We headed out to Yerevan (a 5 hour drive) with a cooler packed full of frozen broccoli from the supermarket for some of Dave's coworkers and a bag with spicy ketchup and lighter fluid for the Marine Guards. As we were passing along the goodies to the grateful folks they uttered the phrase "If there is anything we can get for you..."

Weeeeellll, according to my sources, you are supposed to be able to buy "Philadelphia" cream cheese in the grocery stores in Armenia. David and I hauled ourselves to at least 6 or 7 stores during our 2.5 days there and never found it. So, when we got back to Tbilisi, David emailed the broccoli recipient and asked if she could find us some cream cheese and he would bring it back on his next business trip. She emailed him back and told him she had scored 8 boxes of cream cheese for me! YAY!

Also available in Yerevan (and brought home in the cooler on Monday): decent cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce and, I almost fainted, OKRA. Holy cow. We had fried okra last night with our dinner and it was damn good.

Oh, and Yerevan has a new sub sandwich shop called Mr. Toaster. While we were there I was able to get a roast beef sub (the one I have been craving since I got pregnant). Unfortunately, they don't have provolone either, so I had to make do with cheddar cheese on the sub. But still. A sub. Hallelujah!

I won't even mention how I have been online researching the airports that Blaine and I have layovers at when we head home next month to see what kind of food and drink they have available. I'm gonna get my hands on a mocha frappachino in London. I can already taste it.

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