I will be the first to claim that gum may be the thing we take for granted most here in the States. It’s on every checkout lane and in every friend’s car- yet never on anyone’s mind. Flash-forward to your third week teaching English in South America and you’re wondering where that pack of Trident is. Hate to break it to you, but you should have bought some Orbit in the airport! Don’t get me wrong, you can find gum, but it holds it’s flavor about as long as your attention span in 9th grade chemistry. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and thus a consolation prize- they have more cough drop options than you can wrap your head around!
This lack of salad toppings was something brought to my attention very early in the experience of teaching abroad. When you finally find a restaurant that serves a salad, likelihood is they are lacking a dressing to accompany this glory moment. If you’re the type to branch out from olive oil and vinegar, it’s time to start thinking about reeling in your rebellious taste buds prior to going to South America. As an alternative, the La Vega Produce Market in Santiago has produce so fresh you won’t need anything on top.
Flavored Chips and Salsas
After polling my go-to ex-pat teachers around South America, this one was a crowd-favorite. The affinity we non-porteños have for a flavored chip is mind-blowing. You will find multiple types of potato chips and peanuts in grocery stores, but you’ll be hard pressed to land on some BBQ Lays. Truly the most devastating to my stay was the lack of salsa. Had I known, I would have called Pace Picante for international delivery. But not to fret, what every country lacks in chopped tomatoes with spices, they gain in their own delicious and unique dipping sauces.
Don’t get too concerned; it is actually normal to see milk on grocery store shelves instead of in the cooler section. The first time you buy warm milk is an experience, and I guarantee you will find yourself missing the days of chilled dairy. Just like South America is famous for many opposites of expected entities, dairy products are no different. It doesn’t stop at milk either–eggs are also to be stored on a shelf or above the fridge. While these things are all set backs at first, these quirks are some of the things that make South America so special and appealing.