As I am feeling rather nostalgic about Colombia tonight, I would love to tell you about my dearly beloved crispetas. Often a dinner, always a snack, and absolutely always on-hand, popcorn was a staple of my diet while living in Pasto. You may be interested to know that it is actually not just a bachelor dietary delight either, it accompanies dinner plates on the regular. In fact, the fancy Cuy dinner platter always includes a little popcorn.
The microwavable garbage served up here is a sorry excuse for popcorn. It only tastes good because of your weekly dose of sodium in 3 bites. Fresh stove-top-pop is the key! and for any of you misers out there, it is also much cheaper — like 25-cents a pot. A little oil, some salt and the corn. Butter would be a nice addition but we often had trouble tracking it down, in fact we had a lot of trouble tracking things down in Pasto… Hint: Don’t try and go shopping on Sunday, everything is closed.
Being cheap and delicious, a pot of crispetas was always on stove top for 2 young English teachers (not ones that you know and certainly not the author and roommate) to fend off hunger with. As the largest meal of the day was typically lunch, a big dinner often wasn’t needed and so popcorn and candy sufficed. In fact when in rather tight budgetary constraints, popcorn served as sustenance. Popcorn and coffee would keep them fueled until the lifeline meals from their schools could give them some actually nourishment. If these hard times fell on a weekend, they adopted the Reptilian Tactic of moving less to save calories, while sometimes slithering to the kitchen for crispetas and enjoying the only entertainment they could afford: talking while eating crispetas. Only the week before these now-broke teachers were living large on spring break, traveling Colombia. The last week before the monthly payday however, found them pooling change to manage bus fair and actually get to their jobs.
These “hard times” were eye-opening in themselves. Instead of always needing to spend money to have fun, crispetas brought the realization that you don’t actually need to spend money to have fun. In fact, after getting over the fear of inviting people over without having anything to offer, and everyone having a great time, you realize it is all about people and the interactions you share with them. Whether you’re absolutely broke or have millions in the bank, your setting may change, but really everyone is looking for the same thing: having great experiences with fun people. It seems this is what we all really remember.
Of course, having crispetas is still important. Being a borderline sociopath with one strand of empathy for introverts, I will say that crispetas are also necessary.