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Panaderia Canadiense

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  1. It does look like we're going to be calm right up until DÍa de los Difuntos - the largest workers' union has a national strike called for 30 October. However, on the upside, it won't interfere with the 5th annual International Festival and Competition of Guaguas de Pan, which I'm part of again this year. Last year (my first entry) I placed Bronze in a field of 50 bakeries, and I'm hoping that I can hit Silver or Gold this year. Ummm... It's complicated. The truce is shaky to begin with, and there's no way that the government is going to be able to address hundreds of years of human rights abuses in one set of negotiations. It will hopefully be a start, but the way that the government is trying to cover up the human rights issues even during the uprising (which are serious enough to have prompted the ICC to send investigators for crimes against humanity) isn't a very promising opening move. Everybody is following the situation very closely, and I find myself happy that I've got stock laid in because I truly don't see it remaining peaceful until New Year's.
  2. That's a bit misleading, actually - what's happened is that the Government has agreed to strike Decree 883, which contained not only the gas subsidies that the North American media fixated on, but also the other austerity conditions including cuts to temporary contract workers' salaries (these people are overwhelmingly indigenous), the opening of native lands to mining and gas concession, and a host of other measures that disproportionally hit the most impoverished sectors of the country. The striking of Decree 883 is only the opening of peace talks: it was the basic condition demanded by CONAIE (the indigenous federations) to come to the table. Roads are now partially opened in some areas of the country, although my own city remains largely isolated, but it's still a huge sigh of relief. However, the indigenous leaders have signalled that this is still only the first step - it's not over until everything has been hashed out, and a new deal can be hammered out that doesn't put the majority of the burden of austerity on the backs of those least able to support it.
  3. This thread really makes me appreciate how blessed I am - my first thought, until I noted your locations, was "why don't you just go down to the farms and buy your green beans direct? Time it right and you can get whole cherries." Eugene, I have no idea how or if they're sold in North America, but I'd like to put in a good word for Ecuador's Highland arabicas from Cariamanga, Gonzanamá, Intag, and Vilcabamba. These sectors routinely win gold in both national and international competitions.
  4. Historically, this kind of thing ends in one of two ways: dialogue or deposement. Dogs are immensely popular, cats less so. I have two cats and a dog, and I stocked up on food for them before I ever thought about how the shortages might affect me.
  5. I kept intending to get a countertop element, but the shops all closed before I managed to. I do have a Crockpot and a rice cooker, and I have a half-barrel charcoal grill and about 50lbs of charcoal layed in; this grill also works with wood. Job loss is something that is starting to loom - small employers are going bankrupt trying to pay their employees, and small businesses are mostly shuttered. A 3pm curfew with full military presence has just been ordered in Quito.
  6. It's day 10 of the protests; formal covered markets and plazas in Ambato have been closed for about five days now. Informal markets are starting to spring up in local parks - this one, which is about four blocks from my house, is selling rice, pasta, grains, button chorizo sausage (an Ambato specialty), eggs, and, for the first time in a week in the city, fresh milk. The milk sellers told me that they paid the protestors at the roadblocks in milk to be allowed into the city, but will gladly do it daily to avoid wasting their product and losing money. The milk line had close to 150 people in it today.
  7. Dinner tonight was a simple stovetop spaghetti - cooking isn't a challenge only because of ingredient restrictions: there's no LPG left in the city, so the tank I have has to last as long as possible. This means that I'm cooking meals that use the smallest possible amount of gas - as a consequence I'm trying to avoid my oven as much as possible.
  8. Hipermarket wasn't much better. The interesting thing about this, is that my local corner stores are actually in a better position than the big corporate shops. They've got small, independent supply lines, and keep a greater variety of fresh produce on the shelves.
  9. Today was another day to head out in search of provisions - I got to both major grocery stores. I hadn't been to Megamaxi in over a week; last time I was there, it looked like a normal grocery store. Today, it was alarmingly empty. Fresh produce, milk, grains, sugar, flour, toilet paper, water, potato chips, meats of all kinds, seafood, dog food, and bread are all distant memories. The store looks like the lead up to a hurricane.
  10. The stress of this kind of situation has a way of killing the appetite, so we made the best of the situation of too many ripe avocados and had chips and guacamole rather than a full dinner.
  11. One of the weirdest parts of this shortage is what has become scarce after week one. That dairy and meat products would disappear was expected, but carrots are also gone. Thinking about it, though, it's not so surprising - carrots come into the city from the páramos of Bolivar province, which are on the other side of five roadblocks. My local grocery is starting to look sparse... But the owner has a small farm inside the roadblocks so they're slowly reprovisioning the fresh shelves. And my local corner stores are starting to thin out as well. At Belen's, there's no milk or cheese but she still has vegetables and most non-perishable goods. Carmita has milk, though - and not for the reason one might expect. She says that yesterday she went across the river into the rich neighbourhoods and bought most of the stock out of their corner stores!
  12. And last night was my guest's birthday! She's celiac, so we baked her a corn and quinua shortcake - with plenty of strawberries and whipped cream, of course!
  13. I bring my backup generator online. It's Eolic; I don't need to worry about fuel for it that way.
  14. I have a big ol' bag of goat in the freezer!!! It's destined for an encocão.
  15. So, today was a day for staying in. It's the first official day of the National Strike, in which basically everybody walks off their jobs. My city remains calm, but the indigenous of the high páramos marched in downtown this morning, and a strict curfew is in effect. This meant a brunch on fridge-cleanings (aka guess that leftover!) Which was not inspiring, but it was filling, which is more the point. It also freed space in the refrigerator. This afternoon's task was a bit more daunting: before the markets closed their doors on Sunday, I bought an entire 3kg haunch of lamb from Glorita, my favourite butcher. It's time to break this down into meal-sized units, strip off the fat and connective tissue, and basically get it ready for easy meal prep in the coming weeks. The little steel bowl is tonight's meal - lamb moussaka. I got four meals out of the haunch: meaty bones for scotch broth, smaller cubes for kebab, and larger chunks for the grill. The moussaka is on the stove now. I'm doing a stove top version of the dish to conserve gas; the bechamel sauce will be on the side, and I'm serving it with rice. My freezer still looks good, but one of tomorrow's challenges going to be tomato hunting.
  16. This is going to be really interesting, because Ambato is uniquely prepared for a siege of this kind. It's unlikely that the city will ever face true starvation - most houses have kitchen gardens and there is a huge culture of urban orchards. We might eventually become vegan, but we won't die of that!!! The test is going to be in how well we can pull together as communities to make sure everybody's needs are met.
  17. Here's dinner - cooking during a shortage is generally simple fare whose leftovers can form the foundation of future meals. In this case, roasted chicken breast, scalloped potatoes, and steamed beets and greens. The bones from the chicken breast, along with the drippings, go into the freezer for soup base. The potatoes will be incorporated into a locro, and any leftover beets will go to borscht. The idea is to plan meals with as little waste as possible; our trimmings and peels (as everyone else's in the Barrio) are going to feed my downhill neigbours' pigs, which we may wind up eating as a community, near the end of the month if the situation doesn't improve.
  18. Well... I'm originally from Northern Canada. I habitually prepare to be snowed in, even when I'm living somewhere that it doesn't snow! This means that I have a lot more stock layed in than the average Ecuadorian family - the philosophy here is that one can always get fresh ingredients, so why worry about holding anything? If the strikes go on past the end of the he food stocks? It's already happened in Cuenca, about 6 hours south of me. The military had been flying in a C-130 (Hercules) full of staple food and basic supplies in a daily run; they'll do the same for us. Rationing will go into effect at the same time. This short term hardship is understood by just about everybody in the country over the age of 25 as a necessary measure to effect gravely needed social change. So people essentially come together as communities, tighten their belts, and endure.
  19. So: dinner tonight is roasted chicken breast, scalloped potatoes, and steamed beet greens - eating things that will go bad quickly. Photos to follow.
  20. And here we are on Tuesday, 8 October. I went back to that supermarket in the hopes that some meat had maybe materialized.... It hadn't. I've got stock in my freezer for about three weeks of meals; I've currently got a houseguest / refugee from the US staying with me - she was trapped by the strike, and I'm cooking for four. What you see at the extreme bottom are the last two packets of chicken livers and gizzards, which I forwent because I'm not super fond of livers. Staff inform me that the meat case in this market won't be restocked until after the strike ends, since their supply chain is in the next province, across six roadblocks. The fresh produce section now contains a weird mix of specialty fruits and vegetables - Peruvian ají, grapefruits, chayote, scrapie, eggplants, beans in shell, and purple sweet potatoes. The roll shutters block off half of the stand, because it's empty and they're not anticipating that it will be restocked. And this one's even emptier - the plantains are gone, and there are only a few oranges left, along with firewood for your barbecue (and not much of that.). You can also see that sodas are starting to diminish as compared to Sunday.
  21. Hello again from south of the equator! As you may or may not have heard (because the international news media isn't really giving the situation much coverage), Ecuador is in the grip of a major social protest movement. This started on October 1, when fuel subsidies in the country were abruptly struck causing the prices of gasoline and diesel to more than double overnight. Transport and heavy haulage unions immediately went on strike, and blocked the main roads of the cities with their vehicles in protest. The indigenous movements of the central Sierra, beginning in my province, Tungurahua, joined the strike on October 2, and the President quickly declared a State of Emergency that restricts movement, freedom of the press, and freedom association. The indigenous took over the road blockades on October 3, cutting the cities off from the world; Ambato became an island overnight. It is now October 8, one week into the blockades. Shortages in the fresh markets and supermarkets began on Sunday, as people realized that we were in for a long-haul of protest and possibly an overthrow of the sitting government. Ecuador's indigenous have a long history of deposing governments in this way, and it's not a fast process. I'll be blogging informally throughout the National Strike, to document how the inevitable food shortages affect the city and my own table. These first pictures are from Sunday, October 6. In the Mercado Mayorista, a place I've always taken you along to when I've blogged from Ambato, the cement floors of the naves are visible in places where they have never, in my experience, been exposed. The fresh corn nave is all but abandoned - this is because all of the corn in the city's stock has been sold. I'll remind you: a nave in this market is about a thousand square metres of space. This is also missing the big trucks that come to trade fresh grains in the parking lot, because they couldn't make it through the roadblocks. Most of the Mayorista is in the same situation - stocks are selling off fast. The supermarkets are even more dire. The meat coolers are completely empty, and the produce shelves are diminishing quickly.
  22. Winter is in full bite, and that can only mean one thing: Sloppy Joes!
  23. Whenever I hear this, I keep expecting to get a mouthful and then hear the chef yell "surprise! It's raspberry!"
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