Ersatz Guide to the Expat Kitchen

Ersatz is a German word meaning, roughly, a substitute or replacement.  The word came into its own during the First World War when naval blockades of Germany meant that some products were hard to find. People had to develop substitutes. 

Over the years I have found that life as an expat means a life of compromise and of finding substitutes. While this has the potential to be depressing I have found that it can actually be quite fun, particularly if you approach it as a series of challenges.

One of the biggest challenges of expat life, particularly in more exotic destinations must be trying to cook with unfamiliar ingredients.  There is almost always a way to make something approaching your favourite recipe but it sometimes requires a knowledge of possible substitutes and the ability to make your own store cupboard staples, so easy to buy at home and so difficult abroad.

Here is a collection of recipes and suggestions to help make life a little easier.  Cooking the ersatz way, I hope it helps...

Ersatz Workarounds 
  • Building Your Larder from scratch every few years is a pain.  This list gives a guide to the basics you should aim to collect in the first few weeks.
  • Substitutions in cooking are a way of life for expat cooks. Here are some useful tips.
  • Self raising flour, it is possible to bake without it (and even withut baking powder), you just need to know what to add.
  • Cooking chocolate, you can make your own or use normal chocolate - this guide tells you how.  
  • Sugar, speciality sugars used in baking and cooking can be hard to find but there is a way to bake without them.
  • Fruit and Vegetables may not always be safe to eat.  This guide will tell you how to clean them.
  • Crème Fraiche is another recipe staple that can be difficult to source but alternatives are available.
  • Vanilla Extract  is so necessary for baking but almost impossible to find in some places.  This guide tells you what to use when you run out and how to make your own.
  • Clove oil - is an essential natural antiseptic and painkiller that can stave off the worst effect of toothache.  It is easy enough to make your own if you forget to bring it with you.  
  • Pasteurise Eggs for raw egg recipes, essential if cooking for expectant mothers.
  • Ants often like to visit the expat kitchen.  Solutions are available.  
Ersatz Recipes 

This is a list of recipes you should be able to make (and enjoy) everywhere in the world.

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