Monday, January 31, 2011

Our Grocery Store

This is a post I have wanted to do for a long, long time. What with all the hubbub recently about the outrageous increase in food prices, I thought now would be a good time. This pictures were all taken last November, thus the cheaper prices.
It is hard to get pictures in Super Express. If the guards catch you, they make you stop or leave the store. I guess they are afraid that you might be doing price comparisons for their competitors. Which is ridiculous because there is no competitor of any significance on the island. By the way, in my travels around Mexico, I have come to believe that the word SUPER when used with a grocery story, actually means tiny.
Once through the door, you immediately run head long into the produce department. I was lucky. I was there the day they had just restocked fruits and vegetables. It is not uncommon to go to buy a tomato and find them all rotten....or nonexistent. One can never depend on finding what you are looking for on any given day. I think it is a testament to my camera and my ability to use it that everything looks so good. Trust me, it isn't this inviting in real life.
I am constantly hearing tourists run around the store asking, "Where's the milk?!" Well, the answer is simple. Right here.

Milk is highly pasteurized here and sold in boxes. Refrigerate after opening. We have as many types as the folks NOB. Just not in the refrigerator section.
More produce.

They were having a special on fantasy squash the day I was there.

Eggs are not only sold in the traditional cartons, but like this also.

You can grab one of those plastic bags and buy just as many as you need. One or five. Doesn't matter. That is one thing I really like about Mexico. It is possible to buy just one of anything.
Butter, some prepackaged cheeses and the ubiquitous hot dog. The name of the favorite brand of hot dog here is FUD. It is not pronounced like Elmer's last name, but rather sounds like the English word FOOD. Trust me again. They are anything but food.

The whole top row here is devoted almost entirely to chili peppers. All kinds and degrees of hotness. We love our peppers here.

Again, choose the type and size onion you want and go.

Our store also has a bakery and deli counter. These are some of the richly decorated cakes that they put out. Look good, don't they? Slather some lard frosting on a hamburger bun and you'll know what they taste like.

They also sell doughnuts, hamburger buns in disguise again, and these muffins. A friend of mine calls them cupmuffins. They are kind of a cross between a cupcake and a muffin. Not too bad but don't expect a burst of flavor.

Cheeses from the deli counter. Sliced to order. We do have a fairly good selection. Especially if you like manchego.

A look behind the deli counter. There is a great selection of hams. And that is it. No salami, no other kind of meat at all.

It is possible to buy freshly ground hamburger, pork and chicken. I usually get my ground meats here instead of buying the prepackaged ones. Of course, it takes a long time to get your order because any local who comes up to the counter will just shout out their order. And of course the butcher stops what he is doing and grabs the 23 chicken legs that they want.

Prepackaged chicken. A friend once mentioned to me that she thought the chicken here was more flavorful than NOB. I don't know why that should be, but she is right.

On the opposite side of the store from the produce, is more dairy. Yogurt, Jello Cups, that sort of thing.

Beans and sugar. This is usually where the sale items are put.

We also have a small frozen section. Vegetables, pizza, french fries. Some bags of fruit.

And ice cream. Maybe.

Snacks. Almost everyone of them is flavored with hot chili powder OR salt and lime. Lime is on everything.

There is a small selection of canned goods. Nothing exotic, just the staples.

And a nice selection of liquors and wines. Note that you can probably get the same thing up a block at Covey's or at the Naval Store, enter behind the base just past La Lomita restaurant, far cheaper.

A fine selection of beers.

A lot of space is devoted to this brand. I don't buy beer here but I enjoy seeing my brand on display.

The day I was there, they also featured these gaily decorated bottles on an end cap. I thought it was a fancy fruit juice.

Until I looked closer. Fruit flavored wine beverage. I wonder how many of them they sold?

Most laundry detergents here are sold in bags. There are some that come in plastic bottles, but it is far cheaper to buy the powder in bags. Except it doesn't always dissolve in the machine and coats your clothing with white powder.

Fabuloso. What can I say. Possibly the best cleaning product ever made.

And finally we come to the thing that we have been dreading since we entered the store. The checkout lanes. Where they never have change. Where people constantly cut in line. Where people put their goods on the conveyor belt to hold their place while they shop some more. Where they make the clerk back items off the list until they have enough money with them to buy the remainder. I have learned to just take a deep breath and plunge through it. I don't need my blood pressure shooting up again.

So there you have. I hope I have conveyed to you a sense of grocery shopping here and why I hate it.


Leslie Limon said...

This post was the most fun I've had shopping in Mexico! :) A very accurate description of everything, especially the cakes! You really made me laugh out loud. :)

Anonymous said...

i can relate to those lines. it was the same when we lived in sicily. i used to get irritated and finally just started speaking up or putting my elbows out so people wouldn't cut, although this was more like in a deli line waiting for cheese or meat.

ah, this post makes me wish i were in mexico right now, shopping for, anything. or better yet, swimming!

so aren't any of those cakes any good? surely you've tried tres leches-that is one of my favorite desserts ever.

have a great day!

teresa in lake stevens

drgeo said...

Heh heh, the checkout line sounds like every day at Walmart. Except the latter features people too rotund to walk, so they clog the aisles riding electric tricycles at 1 mile per hour. There is a whole web site devoted to observing the "people of Walmart."

Anonymous said...

Does look like a real chore!

lisa said...

I have to agree, grocery shopping is the worst chore ever!!!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with at least two of your assertions:

1. The pastries, unless you know of a Secret Patisserie, .... suck.

2. The lines out of the store are a all-guns-afire occasion .... you guts yer way through, hopefully have something near the correct change, and elbow out all those interlopers, all of which really enhances Mexican-American relations.

O Robert

Steve Cotton said...

I have to confess -- I love grocery shopping. And, as you know, our choices on this coast are far more limited. It brings out all of my hunting instincts. Nothing like a shot of adrenalin to start the day.

As for snacks, I found something new -- salsa verde flavored corn chips. The newness will wear off within a month. But, for now, I have a carbohydrates source.

KfromMichigan said...

Love this blog .. makes me think I'm in Cancun grocery shopping. Hubby and I also think the chicken in Mexico is the best ever. So moist and tasty! The pastries aren't sweet, but I love tasting it all. I wish we could find Manchego cheese here .. I've looked, but its not the same.

On Mexican Time said...

Hahaha - i love this post, and can surely relate!! I, like Leslie, had to really laugh about the cake comment!! LOL!! So true:)

The produce selection looked pretty good the day you were there, but I know that isnt' reality every time. Which I find a bit odd considering we are in Mexico!

One of the things I miss most about back home is our grocery stores, Safeways, Loblaws, etc... The real good selections!!

Ah well!!! Thanks for the laugh :)

Anonymous said...

Hey,,,There's a guy with a camera in the ice cream freezer!

Sue said...

Great post! Loved the analogy of the cakes - and agree, not much taste. I do like the chocolate cupcakes, and the chocolate iced donut when it is still squishy fresh. I never shop at this Super though - the one in La Gloria has it beat for what we buy, and the produce section sometimes has stuff that they never had in the one in town. Still rotten grapes for the most part though, but the lettuce is not longer slimey.

Barb said...

Hubs bought me a b'day cake at Bodega when we were in Progreso in Nov. It was actually quite good. Perhaps we lucked out and got a very fresh one.

I didn't know we weren't allowed to take pics inside the store. I was going to do that next trip down and make a post about it, as you've done.

Arizona Kelly said...

OMG... I actually shot coffee out my nose when I read "lard frosting on a hamburger bun". F'ing perfect description!

Thanks for a much needed laugh!!

Love you :)

Doris said...

Great post! Makes me excited to soon be back on Isla and jumping through the hoops to do the shopping. I actually love going to the Super. I now know that if we want fresh buns, we need to be waiting with tray and tongs in hand as they come out of the oven just after 7am! I miss the nice croissants they used to make...haven't seen those for a few years.

The one thing that stresses me out there....which ham do I ask for? There are a million of them! What's the difference. We had one kind that we really liked, so I took the tag along the next time and ordered the same one....but it was different again! Oh well, it was still good.

Since we're only there for a month, I guess we still find shopping there fun, but I'm sure that opinion would wear off if we were there longer!


Calypso said...

I do not like shopping either - the entire thought of spending money alone ;-)

We are getting 3 and some times 4 kilos of oranges for 10 pesos.

Although here in Puerto it is 25 oranges for 20 pesos - not sure how much that is in kilos. Considering the last time I checked ONE orange in the U.S. was 75 cents - this is NOT a bad deal on any of those fronts.

Brentom said...

Thank you so much for this. We will be missing our now annual trip to Isla Mujeres and these pictures allow me to do my shopping virtually. A much needed diversion just as the Groundhog Day winter storm is about to hit us. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

When we were in the bakery goods there was a boy sticking his finger into the middle of the sweet breads and licking it. It put us off the baked goods for a while.

WilliamLawson said...

Hey you - SUPER is actually short for supermercado (supermarket) and has nothing to do with anything superior at all. :) So that{s why they are all called that.

The bread always sucks, as do the pastries, with the notable exception of the bolillos and frances, which rivals a decent baguette in many "supers".

I also enjoy the fresh meat in display cases in the middle of the store, unrefrigerated. You ask and they tell you its because it{s "cool" in the store what with the air conditioning and so on. Umm, yeah.

Fun post! Saludos desde Merida!

Lance in Las Vegas said...

That was a great post! After seeing the experience through your post, I'm stopping by a Super Mercado tomorrow. I'm going to pick up some carne asada. Since I live in Las Vegas, Nevada it will be refrigerated. However, the Super Mercado is quite bit different than our Neighborhood Von's;) Thanks again for the post!