I love this cookbook because the flavors are reminiscent of my childhood, a time before I started counting fat and carbs and before I knew that anything with high fructose corn syrup should have a skull and crossbones tattooed on its label. The cookbook is chalk-full of recipes that call for things like: an entire pound of grated cheese, a cup of shortening, or a bottle of Karo's Syrup. Even though I know these ingredients are on the ultra-bad list, I yearn for certain flavors at the holidays.
As I was perusing my tattered church cookbook in search of tasty treats to serve for my Thanksgiving feast in Panama, I realized that this California church cookbook is also full of ingredients that are abundant in California... but not so easy to find in Panama. Items like persimmons are non-existent, and imported specialty ingredients like Cool Whip, pecans and Karo Syrup can be found... but for a price.
I've decided that this Thanksgiving is going to be a mix of the traditional (like my famous chocolate espresso pecan pie even though pecans are jaw-droppingly expensive)and the new Panama-infused recipes (such as pesto bread and pineapple chutney for my turkey). The Panama twist to favorite holiday recipes celebrate the fact that local produce is so inexpensive. The reality is that a typical Thanksgiving feast will cost about the same amount in Panama as it did in the U.S., once the scales tip up for the price of imported goods and tip down when I buy super-cheap local items.
The definite upside to Panama is that it's easier to eat a healthier diet here because of the abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. Without even realizing it, I have developed a way of eating that incorporates more food in their natural states and fewer processed foods. The fact that I'll enjoy several holiday recipes from the church ladies' book-of-fat will make these holiday indulgences all the more sweet.