How I survive here on this jungle is FAQ. How do I get by, day by day? How do I feed myself? How do I manage to do this…?It’s no big secret that I have some small investments on the side yielding a tiny return. But don’t get all excited: the sum this nest egg reports me is a little less than $200 each month. Out of it, I have to pay the utility bills, clothing, repairs, the Internet Service Provider for my cell phone, leaving me with $75 for a very frugal living in the food department.
If you have been following this blog for some time now, you’ll know that I add another $100 to my monthly budget by clearing the land belonging to two of my neighbors.
Which isn’t much, if you ask me. I’m usually able to stretch these numbers by scavenging scrap metal, but that’s a topic left for another post (now, if you’re about to mention that my book sales could have a positive impact on my budget one of these days… well, I’d strongly suggest you stop smoking that funny-looking weed that’s growing in your backyard; that sort of activity is gonna get you in trouble with the DEA).
To eke a living down here, I have to live off the land as best as I can. There’s one mighty problem; even though the area where I reside in looks wonderfully green and luscious, the soil down here is just an ungrateful morass of expansive clay, covered with a very thin layer of black earth, barely an inch or two thick. Dig deep enough, and you’ll immediately hit this accursed, unproductive clay in every spot you chose.
You can’t actively grow any crops on this land without exhausting it after just one or two harvests, so you have to select carefully where you’ll plant next. And you can’t grow stuff like tomatoes, radishes, celery and such down here; bugs would simply have a field day with everything you may decide to plant.
So basically, this reduces my food options to bananas, plantain, avocados, mangoes, yucca (a rather starchy tuber) and some citruses like lemons, grapefruit and tangerines. See the picture accompanying this post? The one with ugly, smug fellow? That’s me standing next to a three-foot long banana bunch that has grown in my backyard. Don’t worry; it won’t go to waste, since it will be consumed way long before it goes completely ripe.
Jungle recipe: peel the still unripe banana, and use a very sharp knife to turn it into some very thin slices. Then you deep-fry the slices in very hot oil. Use a mortar and pestle to grind a garlic teeth with a dash of salt, and then sprinkle everything with the mixture.
Voila! Ersatz potato chips.
This is great if you happen to like this sort of stuff. Until you start growing sick of deep-fried banana slices. Mercifully, the rest of the bunch will start to ripen all at once after a couple of weeks. And better pray the bananas are running out by this time; I usually have to hurry in eating them before they start to decompose. Hint: when ants the size of a Volkswagen start to make a conga line into your kitchen, it’s really time to finish the banana bunches left. Another jungle recipe: peel the overripe bananas (leave the whole) and fry them with butter and a couple spoonfuls of sugar. Let the sugar become caramel, slowly stirring the butter and sugar mix while occasionally turning the bananas until they’re golden all over. It’s a nice desert. Yummy. Of course, this lasts three or four days… until you start to grow sick of all the sweet, banana-flavored caramel sauce.
I follow the same procedure with plantains; deep-fry them while green, fry them (without caramel sauce, of course) when ripe… until I start having fried plantain coming out of my ears and I’m about to yell ‘STOP!’ like crazy.
Mangoes and avocados? I eat them when they’re on season… until I’m ready to go up a wall, completely fed of the damn things.
And now the tangerine season is drawing to a close; can you guess of what kind of food I’m growing sick and tired of right now?