For me, there is something so delightful about shopping in the mercado. All the fresh food that I get to handpick. The social interaction with shop owners and other customers. It’s our greatest opportunity of the week to really use our Spanish and it’s always surprising and satisfying to realize how much we really do know. It is so much easier to navigate our way through the market than it was even a year ago…greeting people, asking for what we want, making a bit of small talk along the way. And people respond so positively…always happily surprised that we are trying to speak Spanish, and happy to help us with a new word or phrase. It’s one of the few places where we truly start to feel like we belong to this community in a more profound and involved way.
We’ve been here for just over 2 weeks now. Long enough to have our favorite spots and preferred tiendas. Like every other local, we walk to the Mercado Hidalgo to do our shopping & then carry our purchases home. We buy our eggs by the kilo and carefully bring them home in a plastic vegetable bag. People smile when they pass us on the street. Not many gringos here…and even fewer carrying eggs home.
We stand in line with all the other ladies at El Torito for chicken. There are 5 different carnicerias in the mercado that sell chicken. But El Torito is always the one with the line. For good reason, as their chicken is mas mejor. The ladies who run the stand are super nice and smile at our somewhat stumbling Spanish…so much carniceria vocabulary that we are still learning. And feet and organs are free with purchase. Good for soups….well, the feet are. We’re not really organ people. We often create quite a stir as the only gringos standing in line for chicken (& speaking Spanish, to boot!)…and also because Kyle stands in line with me rather than waiting on the steps with all the other men.
The lady at our favorite fruteria now recognizes us, greeting us in Spanish and handing out a few plastic bags for us to put our selection into. Today she had peaches, which was a nice surprise. We’ve been seeing so many friends post photos of peach pies this past week and bemoaning the fact that we can’t have one while we are here. But the universe has delivered and we’ll be enjoying peaches tonight. And mangoes are back in our lives again, which is a good thing as we love them and miss eating them when in the US, where they are so expensive. We’re also enjoying many of the local fruits, such as Mamey, pomegranates, and the large green citrus fruits whose name I cannot recall.
Our lives are full of so much more fresh food when we’re not in the states. And we used to eat very healthy back in our old life. It is interesting to see how our diet changes as we travel from place to place. And also amazing to see how much less trash we generate here than we did back in ABQ. There is something so satisfying about buying all of our food so close to the source. It is also interesting how much more leisurely and social grocery shopping is here. In the US, I might spend 30 minutes max in a grocery store. But here, we wander and browse and chit chat for more than an hour, not including the 15 minute walk each way from our apartment to the market.
On a shopping day, we visit the panaderia for bread, the fruteria for vegetables, fruits, & eggs, the carniceria for chicken and occasionally beef, and the cremaria for cheese and crema. Today, we came home with everything you see in the photo above…all for 262 pesos, which is about $20. It’s more than enough food to feed us for a week, with a few extra veggies that we’ll pick up in a few days.
We take it all home and pack it away, soaking all of the fruits and vegetables in an iodine solution for 20 minutes to kill any bacteria…just like the locals do.
People always ask what we bought and how much we spent. So here is our grocery list for today:
Panaderia ( 31 pesos ~ about $2)
2 crescent rolls – media luna bolillos
1 whole wheat bread – pan integral
2 rolls – bolillos
2 cookies – galletas
Fruteria (110 pesos ~ about $8.50)
1 head of romaine lettuce – lechuga orejana
3 avocados – aguacate
1 pepper – pimienta
3 tomatoes – tomates
3 carrots – zanahorias
6 potatoes – papas
3 mangoes – mangos
2 peaches – duraznos
2 green citrus fruit whose name escapes me
1 pear – pera
8 eggs (1/2 kilo) – huevos
El Torito – Carniceria (87 pesos ~ about $6.50)
4 chicken breasts – pechuga de pollo
2 chicken feet
small handful of chicken organs
La Cremaria (34 pesos ~ $2.50)
1 small bottle of Mexican cream (similar to sour cream, but so much better) – crema
1 small wheel of fresh cheese – queso fresco
Grand Total = 262 Pesos or approximately $20