What do the poor really eat?

Now that my Why bacon? thread has throrougly drifted off topic, let me start a thread about a point that was raised there. It is pretty much in the form of what animal-based protein sources do locals store/preserve and how?

This is far from a generic study but it is based on observations of my wife's family and neighbors. While refrigeration may change this in the future, up until the Ortega administration, the grid was not reliable enough for a poor person to depend on as a way to store these items.

The main difference I saw between "city folk" and "country folk" was what was available. City folk might have chickens, probably not pigs and certainly not cows.

  • Milk is preserved by making it into cuajada.
  • Eggs are just stored without refrigeration.
  • Chicken meat is preserved by not killing it until you are ready to eat it.
  • Pigs and cows seem to be an excuse for a party. For example, a neighbor in Tisey would have "cow-based" a huge party every year. If there was meat left over, people went home with leftovers.

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Asked a friend out in the country about hogs

He said that his neighbors who raise them basically send them to market. The hog was called "the mortgage lifter" in Irish peasant culture -- and it seems it's a source of cash here, too, rather than something people eat on a daily basis.

Around Lake Apanas, and to a less extent in Jinotega in the rainy season, there's fresh caught fish, which generally come in one serving sizes for the most part.

There's a huge difference between what people eat in town and in the country. My local pulperia had unsweetened yogurt and it sold out in something like two or three days.

My impression is that people in cold climates doing heavy work crave fats more than not -- I've heard of people hiking the Appalachian Trail eating sticks of butter. The cravings here tend to be carbohydrates -- not sure if that's heat related or just human hard-wiring. The only common fat added to food (generally around here to rice and beans or tortillas, neither with much natural fat) is crema, and that's about 40 or 50% fat, perhaps a bit less.

The big additional item in diets here are fruits of various kinds, some closer to vegetables than fruits like apples, peaches, and plums. It seems almost invisible to North American discussion of Nicaraguan diets.

Rebecca Brown

we do a couple pigs up ..

on the farm..there not for food..there to sell..sometimes for a special occasion they will do a pig..but it is usally raised for that reason..the yuca and platanos..are grown for several reasons..1 of the big 1's is food for the pigs..pigs are good..they have a lot of babies..most of the time//they bring a male in to breed the females..on our place they like to sell them young..and let someone else feed them..but rasing them to full size..is good money


Our house keeper here in Managua says she eats a lot of Gallo pinto and chicken--plus she gets a lot of our left overs!! Nothing goes to waste.

on the farm..

and when im there..i eat what they eat..rice beans..if eggs..deep fried..in a 1/2 " of oil..always home made tortillas..and cudara???..thats breakfast..no chicken..thats lunch..no chicken..thats dinner..and some times no eggs...the only thing they do different for me..is they give me my coffee first..before they over sugar theres..also do a lot of fruit drinks..of course..over sugared..no lectric..no ice


La prometida's family ... Rice and beans three times a day.

Breakfast ... R&B and a really small fried egg and leche agria or cuajada.

Lunch ... R&B doused in a sauce of some sort which is flavoured parsimoniously by chunklets of pollo indio (free-range patio chicken), and a palmful of ensalada (Nica-style cole slaw, very good).

Afternoon tea ... No R&B! ... just a cup of instant black coffee sweetened by three teaspoons of sugar, and soft artisanal white bread with butter mixed into the dough.

Dinner ... gallo pinto (the national dish - rice and beans mixed together), crema, and fresco (fresh-squeezed tropical fruit juice supplemented with enough white sugar to disintegrate the metal spoon you mix it with).

Festive meals:

"Moros y cristianos" (rice and bean soup), plátanos hervidos (boiled plantains, unseasoned) or maduros fritos (caramelized slices of ripe plantain, ok I like them), and the dish that always makes me want to gag, chicken-gizzard chowder (titiles en salsa).

Heaven forbid that a green vegetable or carrots find their way on the plate.

"We're not poor," I say. "We don't have to eat rice and beans three times a day."

"But we like to eat rice and beans three times a day!"

Lots of corn tortillas as a snack in between meals, preferably wrapped around a hunk of freshly fried pork skin glistening with fat and a palmful of ensalada.

I do love a well-made nacatamal and here in Jinotepe on Saturday mornings you can get real good, big, home-made ones for 25 cordobas ($1 dollar) that will keep you full for hours, which poor folks who get paid on Friday night splurge on to get them through to lunch. A really good home-made nacatamal with a cup of fresh tropical fruit salad and a mug of hot chocolate is the perfect breakfast on-the-run to start a busy weekend.

In the public market in Jinotepe on weekdays, a booth opens up at lunch which specializes in feeding the market workers for 25 cordobas a meal. On the plate is a generous dollop of boiled spaghetti sauced by commercial ketchup, a ladle of plain boiled white rice, a boiled platano, a dose of boiled beans, and a hunk of white bread. For 10 cordobas more you get a few tablespoons of a bland sauce made with a few shreds of pollo indio (free-ranged patio chicken), bone and skin included.

The unskilled market workers make 60 cordobas per day. They spend 15 cordobas a day to take the bus to work and back plus 25 cords for the carbohydrate special lunch, netting them 20 cordobas as take-home pay, which is the equivalent of about 80 US cents.

Basically they go to work all day to earn enough money to buy one lunch that fills their stomachs for most of the day.

Yucca (cassava) finds its way into the diet in large quantities too. Yucca has nothing going for it nutritionally except that it is a cheap source of empty calories, which most poor Nicas lack.

Actually, the diet described above is much more healthy in many respects than the diet poor North Americans eat (no refined foods and little trans fats). But it is critically lacking in digestible fibre and calories and healthy fats rich in omega 6 essential fats. Blue collar Nicas suffer from an epidemic of malnutrition and diabetes, more so than North Americans.

Christianity, Socialism and Solidarity.


are a necesity-- the cheaper, the better.

Cuajada seems to be addictive. Doctors here seem to be real prone to prescribing injectible vitamin B, I wonder if that is because of unbalanced diet.

``Socialism works fine until you run out of other peoples` money``

Margaret Thatcher

injectable b..

it is to keep the patient happy..ohh..the dr gave me a shot..i feel better..i went to the vet last week with 1 of the dogs..had a slight infection..yep they gave him..vit b,,i didnt feel like arguing with the vet

"it is to keep the patient happy"

Realists: 1
Doctors: 0
Plus it is cheap and probably does no harm.

hi mike..

i forgot to mention..we do grow yuca and have tons of platanos and bananas on the farm..and they do use a lot of sugar