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Grocery Shopping in Mexico

Grocery Shopping in Mexico
Another practical subject.  Where do you buy groceries in Mexico?

9/24/2006

Radishes

Radishes

We grocery shop on Saturdays.  At least that’s when we buy the bulk of our food.

During the week when we need milk or tortillas or a liter of really good beer, we go to the corner store.  Mom and Pops are everywhere in Mexico, advertised by the open door (they are invariably in someone’s house) and the bent and battered Coca Cola signs stuck to the wall out front.

They aren’t elaborate, but these stores carry the basics and often also act as social centers where you can catch up on news and gossip.

Sometimes we go to the tianguis–the mobile street markets that set up at 7am and tear down by 4, leaving behind mountains of orange rinds and chicken feathers.  They rotate from neighborhood to neighborhood, each day springing up like mushrooms in a different place.  You can find anything in the tianguis, as long as it isn’t maple syrup.  These markets have the best prices, and you can even bargain (but you won’t get too far unless it is closing time on a slow day).  The tianguis have been around since pre-Hispanic times–often in the same spot!  Much more on them in later posts.

Mexico is great because there are still lots of small specialty shops.  We buy all our meat from Javier, who has a carniceria nearby and is careful with quality.  On Sundays the cheese guy sets up in front of the menudo stand, and we buy fresh cheeses and yogurt, cajeta and jocoque.  Dried peppers and beans come from the seed store, as does the canary mix and sunflower seeds for our little parrots.  Of course we know everyone at each shop by name, so marketing is also visit-time.  Takes longer, but it’s really nice.

So where do we go Saturday for the majority of our groceries?  WalMart.

After all the quaint and interesting shops and markets with their wonderful fresh foods, how can we shop at WalMart?  Selection, selection, and selection.

It isn’t convenience.  We drive an hour to our WalMart.  But the WalMart in Zapopan once advertised itself as the largest in the world, and I can believe it.  We can find turkey breasts there, and feta cheese, and asparagus–items you would never find in Mexico just a few years ago.

Are we selling out–living in Mexico and shopping at WalMart?  Yeah, right.  Ask anyone who has lived far from their roots what they miss most, and it is THEIR FOOD.  Before Mom and Country. (Usually anyway–I really miss my Mom).  (Or maybe it is her spaghetti) .

Anyway, when you are living in a different culture, you can become desperate I tell you desperate for familiar food.  I have ached for Polish sausage, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, and Kikomann soy sauce, only not together.  Others have similar experiences.  It doesn’t even need to be something you loved back home–it just has to be unavailable here.  I’ve seen grown men cry over the memory of Captain Crunch. Australians crave Vegamite. Europeans neeeeed Nutella.

When I first came to Mexico in 1991, I suffered mightily in the food department.  Nothing I ate was familiar, the food I wanted wasn’t sold here, and I had no idea where to shop anyway.

Now things are different. I t helps a lot that I have learned to love Mexican food.  (Except the “M” dish. Frequent readers know).  Even more luckily, Mexican supermarkets are improving and carrying a much expanded stock.  And then there is WalMart.

Of course there are nasty things about WalMart–we know.  We can talk about them in another post.  But they have wooed us, as they have much of the rest of the world, at least for the present.  Lured us in with Smucker’s jam and Charmin and Purina Beneful for Coco.

Does that dilute our “Mexican experience?” Nope.   Does it make things more comfortable?   Oh, you can’t imagine.

Dan and Omar

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Categories

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.