I stayed with a host family for the first month of my study abroad program in Madrid, Spain. They were an older couple, with a dog who peed on the floor and an addiction to watching political talking heads on TV. We weren’t close, but I did learn a lot about their culture through their relationship to food.
I’ll never forget the first night we shared a dinner: The abuela made a salad, fried fish and potatoes – no condiments to be found (if you know me well, you know I LOVE condiments!).
I was feeling a little bored by the meal, a little under-stimulated, so when she asked me at the end of the meal, “Quieres postre?” (Do you want dessert?) my face lit up. This was what I’d been waiting for!
“Sí, por favor!”
And then, she dropped a bomb: “Fruta o yogur?”
I’m sure my mouth hung open in distraught. No chocolate? No baked goods? No pudding, even? My options were FRUIT or YOGURT?! Those aren’t desserts, they’re health foods! I decided to accept a yogurt, trying to hide my disappointment.
Maybe the Spanish are onto something.
Tonight, after buying an enormous cantaloupe for only $2, I search the internet for a healthy fruit dip. I find one that uses neufchatel cheese and nonfat greek yogurt, whip it up with a bit of honey and vanilla, and dip my cantaloupe.
It is DELICIOUS. Just enough sweetness to satisfy my lust for a dessert, but much better for me than that slice of cake I really have a hankering for.
And… it’s fruit and yogurt.