Los Mercados y Supermercados

I can’t stop food shopping here. But we’re not doing much cooking in this swanky temporary rental with its loose-handled pots and rinky dink utensils. Well, if pasta and a mushroom omelette don’t count. Food is cheap enough here that there’s sort of no need to cook, and I’m not in my own comfy kitchen yet so it doesn’t feel like a meditative exercise, but I’m getting in touch with my sensory obsessions most noticeably in food markets – shocker.

We started at Superama, the main grocery chain, two mornings ago before Robbie went to work. We went in thinking we were there for the experience, but quickly began calling aisles and piling our cart full of staples. Dayum was it different, and exhilarating. The produce aisle sported fresh turmeric and chamomile flowers (for what?!). Eggs were unrefrigerated, as was milk (thanks Dad for explaining why). There were ten or so types of tortillas to choose from, and I got right to work looking for the package with the fewest ingredients, until Robbie pulled my choice from the cart and replaced it with a Superama paper-wrapped stack of HOT, FRESH ONES. Used those under fried eggs the next morning with some more sweet-than-spicy salsa verde, plus the fruity coffee we bought from Buna and jugo de pina. Juice with breakfast is a Robbie thing and I forget how good it is every time.

Our fridge was far from full and we needed a couple of things (cheese for pasta and for eggs, butter for everything, grapefruit seed extract to disinfect our fruits and veggies because, Mexico), so I gave myself an excuse to shop again yesterday. After seeing an apartment in Condesa, right on Calle Amsterdam (incredible blue tiled-kitchen, 3 bedrooms, sketchy building) and one in Roma Norte, and then taking myself for a solo tortilla soup and nopales salad and phone-charging session, I took a long walk through a skeevy area to find Mercado Medellin. I knew it was a flower and food market, but wasn’t prepared for the intensity of colors and sounds and smells and salesmanship I stumbled on. I wandered through the aisles like a drunk, muttering “Solo veo” to the shouts of “Que estas buscando?” … Robbie pointed out that I must have sounded like a mystic (“I just see”) – Spanish lessons are coming! When I found las cremerias I regained a sense of purpose and asked to sample some salty cotija. How much did I want? “Un poquito.” I snatched my tiny satchel of cheese and wandered towards the butchers, with huge slabs of beef and pork piled atop their counters, unrefrigerated. Things were getting dark. The sound of cleavers hacking was soon replaced by chicken vendors snipping wings and other undesirable parts off saffron-yellow birds. The yellow tinge to raw chickens here, I learned, is often due to vendors soaking the skin in dyed water (apparently yellow is more appealing than flesh-colored). A similar, natural effect can be obtained from adding marigold seeds to chicken feed. That was enough for me, so I pushed my way back to the front, through stalls of flower vendors clipping marigolds for Dia de los Muertos, and booked it home by Uber. I’m not real enough for Mexico yet.

This was evidenced by today’s excursion, some kind of homesick fever dream. I’d heard about City Market, DF’s answer to Whole Foods, and walked there from my yoga class. It was WAY beyond. I got high on fancy shit – Maldon salt and almond butter and Dijon mustard and a bouquet of ranunculus and kosher chicken and organic kale cause you can take the girl out of Brooklyn but ya know. It was all still much cheaper than it would have been in the States but I really didn’t need all that stuff and now I’m home cooking a pot of beans to bring myself back down. I feel like a little kid who rode the roller coaster too many times and puked. No more shopping this week.

Crazy veggies at City Market

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