C n B is famously known among my friends as the acronym for my staple diet, chicken and broccoli. Add in egg whites and you’ll be ready for the douche-baggery of a summer Las Vegas pool party.
But what happens if you move to Mexico, Prague, Shanghai, or, perhaps, Mongolia? What do you when your C n B seems impossible to find.
I’ve lived in all those places and have found myself hoping for a Costco or worst case, a Sam’s Club.
Mexico did have a Sam’s Club but it proved cheaper and tastier to skip the C n B for Tacos Manolos and have carne asada beef, lime, and avocado.
In Prague, I said forget the diet because there was too much great beer to drink. With all the pizza and sambuca that I could stomach and the occasional Big Mac eating contest it was imperative to work off the excess calories by running up and down one of the world’s longest escalators at my metro stop.
Because I lived in Shanghai off and on for a year, I knew that eating chao fan and xiao long bao on a daily basis was not sustainable. I coughed up a few extra yuan for cans of tuna (a worthy, easy substitute for chicken) and went to City Shop (the expat grocery store) for fresh broccoli. Cuidado, Frosted Flakes cost $15 at City Shop so adapt to local breakfast or get robbed. And where to get egg whites before an impromptu trip to Boracay, Philippines? The local gym sold already peeled hard-boiled eggs for 15 cents an egg! That was heavenly.
Which brings me to Mongolia, a country with no McDonald’s, no Starbucks, but it does have a KFC. While fast food is clearly the anti C n B, the absence of Western restaurants make the prospect of finding Western foods in the grocery store less probable. Indeed, the first couple of weeks here I thought I would have to become a Vegan.
Then with some hard work, a bit of luck I discovered the Costco of Ulaanbaatar, the store called Mercury. Mercury is half farmers’ market, half swap meet. Rumors of price-fixing against foreigners run rampant and the selection from one stall to another is random. After walking around taking pictures and doing a price check with my Amazon bar code scanner, i.e., asking every vendor, how much is Tabasco, I managed to find everything I needed to get me back on C n B.
Only time will tell how bad I was robbed today because my bargaining skills for food are not as refined as they were for bags’a’watches in Shanghai. But, at least I won’t have to eat that pig’s head.