Palau is paradise, “the rainbow’s end” as many call it. The scenery is breathtaking, the diving is world-class, the people are hospitable, and the lifestyle is laid back. No place is perfect though, and this blog would get boring very quickly if everything was as wonderful as unicorns that poop rainbows. So I’m going to take a moment to discuss the sad food situation here.

Let’s talk produce. It’s pretty much nonexistent here. There are three grocery stores and the produce sections of all three looked like this the first few weeks after we arrived here. They are slightly better stocked now, but not by much. Many of the locals do have farms, but they sell all of their harvest to the restaurants, so it’s difficult to find anything fresh on an individual basis. WCTC did get a shipment of strawberries in not too long ago which was incredibly exciting, until I saw the price. $17 for a pint of strawberries. Not only that but each pint had at least one strawberry that was already covered in fur. I have been able to find local eggplants the past few weeks which are pretty good and about the size of small potatoes.

Cheese and yogurt are also difficult to find. The majority of the time the yogurt fridges are empty and the only cheeses to be found are those processed, pre-sliced cheese squares all individually wrapped. I never knew those came in so many artificial colors. If you show up right after they get shipments in, you can find yogurts before everyone else snags them. A lot of times they are already out of date though. You can also find cheddar, swiss, pepper jack, parmesan, and bleu cheese (nothing more) but those disappear quickly. I used to love making quiche with gruyère back home but that definitely doesn’t exist here. I’ve managed to substitute the gruyère with swiss and parmesan to get a similar taste.

That is not to say that the grocery stores aren’t well stocked though, the canned food sections and frozen sections have everything you could ever want. Processed foods galore! It’s no wonder that all of the locals are as wide as they are tall. That probably came out really mean but it’s true. I don’t think the concept of “nutrition” exists here. (I hope I’m not sounding like a spoiled hippie brat from Boulder yet).

Eating out is not much better. The first few weeks here we tried a different restaurant every meal and hardly returned to anyplace a second time. The meals are average at best and way overpriced. It is nice that the Japanese influence means that udon and soba and ramen can usually be found on menus, a welcome treat for anyone who loves Japanese cuisine, but you can only eat noodle soups so many meals in a row. We did find one restaurant, Rock Island Cafe, with reasonable prices that we returned to several times. It was definitely the best deal on the island. That was until we went back yesterday for breakfast to find a 25% increase on all the prices.

We mostly eat at home now. Usually either a bagel and cream cheese or eggs of some sort for breakfast. I’ve gotten pretty good at poaching eggs but still can’t figure out how The Landing got them so darn fluffy! (Yes, I’m still drooling over an eggs benedict that I ate over a year ago.) For dinner I usually make either a frozen veggie burger or curry out of a box with frozen veggies. It’s food. I’m eating as well as is possible here and consuming multi-vitamins like candy.

Now, so as not to sound entirely like a negative nancy, I have had two really kick ass meals since arriving here. The first was at the most upscale restaurant we’ve found here, go figure. Two of our friends sing and play the guitar and perform around the island three times a week. They’re really good too! So we go and watch them quite often and on Mondays they play at this fancy restaurant called Eliliai. The first time we went, as we listened to them perform I ordered linguini with mangrove clams. I love the local mangrove clams here. The actual clams are about the size of garbanzo beans and burst in your mouth and release all this rich, buttery flavor. Pair that up with some good pasta and garlic and olive oil and I was in heaven. I’d nearly forgotten how much I do love good food.

The second meal was at a place called Bem Ermii, a burger joint set up in a storage container and sitting in a parking lot. It's the closest thing to street food here. Palawans do love their burger stands and Bem Ermii seems to be everyone’s favorite. Not only that but they have a veggie burger that our non-vegetarian friends introduced us to as one of the best meals on the island. It definitely lives up to the hype. Even the cats agree. We brought our trash in from the car after eating on the go and the kittens started going crazy like there was catnip hiding in our dirty napkins.

So there you have it. If you were wondering why I've stopped writing about food, now you know. The foodie posts will likely be few and far between so long as we are here.