29 May 2010

Fruit Markets

Every time I think I know this neighborhood, I am proven wrong. I was here for a month at the end of last year and had done the majority of my food shopping at the local, smallish supermarket. There are some huge places not too far away, but that would entail taking buses which is way more labor-intensive them I am ever willing to do for food. And if you really want to stock up, there is a Costco and Wal-Mart; again, too far away.

The produce at said supermarket was rather sad and I had asked the gals at the hotel reception if they knew of a fruit stand. They’d directed me to a few within a block or two from the hotel, but their stuff was also not quite up to what I thought I would find here.

The second week I was here I took a walk up a street I was sure I had walked up last time. Apparently not, as I ran into a real-life market. Granted, it was small, but it was a real Mexican Mercado.

Shops selling kitchenware, trinkets, and beauty supplies line the outer edges. Inside is a central open area around which are butcher shops. There are also some fruit stalls, but most are directly across the street.

The first time I was there I went into the largest one simply because it was easier to negotiate. I was told later that the prices next door in the tiny shop were considerably cheaper, so that’s where I have been going.

I am in heaven being able to buy a fresh papaya everyday. It is one of my favorite fruits. You can sometimes get them in California, but the price is high and they either taste nasty or are mashed. Papayas do not export very well.

And the bananas; what can I say? Unless you have eaten bananas in the country where they are grown, you just have no idea how they should really taste. Bananas for export are picked green and they don’t really ripen, just turn yellow, and most of the flavor is lost. I can buy all sorts of different types of nanners here, my favorite being the tiny, tangy ones. Take my word for it and don’t waste your money if you see these guys in the US; they simply do not travel at all and you’ll pay a fortune for fruit you will need to toss.

Cantaloupes have been my favorite melon since I was a wee child. Over the past several years, probably more like ten or more years, I just haven’t been able to get a tasty cantaloupe. Even when I ask the produce people to pick out a good one, they always suck. I’d actually forgotten why I loved them so much and how delicious they were until I chomped into a Mexican cantaloupe last week. Oh my gosh! Unbelievable! Again, everything is picked green in the US and that just screws with the flavor. Possibly I should be concerned about the water supply used on the farms here, but I am not even letting thoughts of contaminated irrigation systems enter my thoughts. I plan to enjoy the fruits of the earth.