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Much as Mama Fresser likes to shop, she's not too adventurous when it comes to trying out new stores. When it's time to replenish our oatmeal stash or buy some sugar-free cookies, she'll head for not only a chain store, but the ONE chain store where she knows the store's layout. You'd think that a Jewel (grocery) is a Jewel, but not to Mama.

So I was pleasantly suprised when, as we found ourselves outside a Mexican supermarket, she agreed to mosey on in. "We'll just buy some canned fruit and things," I told La Jefa (that's Spanish for "boss.") "Just don't forget the cottage cheese, Fresser!" was her reply.

Jiménez Mercado was very well-lit and clean, and about as big as most chain groceries. All the signs in the produce section were listed in English and Spanish, which was helpful for the occasional Gringo that tumbled in. It seemed that Mama and I were the only Americans in the place, which was kind of fun actually.

Many of their prices were lower than the national chains--I'm guessing that this store was not unionized, and that could be part of the reason. Sure, Jimenez didn't always have the wide range of brands that you'd find in the chains, but who really needs eighteen varieties of ketchup on the shelves anyway?

Toward the back of the store they have a food court of sorts, serving homemade Mexican food--again, with signs in English and Spanish. That's not something you'll find in most chains around here. Just past the food court was a bakery featuring sweets and breads baked on the premises. Mama Fresser had a question about one of the baked goods and asked a worker there, "Excuse me, do these have sugar?"

I could tell by the look on the man's face that Mama's English missed the mark, so I interjected,

Perdóneme Señor. ¿Sabe usted si estos bolillos tienen azúcar?

The man beamed and answered, "No, no azúcar!"

So thanks to Señor Llerandi, my high school Spanish teacher, we came away with some fine sugar-free baked goods. I can't wait to go back.

Neither can Señora Fresser.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I have never found the nerve to go into a Mexican grocery. And for heaven's sake, I have a degree in Spanish! I always feel like they'll laugh at me there.

I guess Mama Fresser is a better man than I!

"It is impossible not to love someone who makes toast for you."

-Nigel Slater

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Loved the story, Fresser. I'm glad Mama Fresser is branching out in her shopping.

I feel more comfortable speaking Spanish or Italian in stores/restaurants than I do my parents' native Chinese. When I speak the former two, I get an appreciative nod (and even some compliments at my accent) for my efforts, but when I speak the latter, I get mocked for being an ABC (American-born Chinese).

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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I took 6 years of French in high school. I don't think I could have made a bigger mistake considering I live in an area that should be referred to as "New Spain" (Nuevo Espana?)

I have around 50 Latin Grocers within a 20 minute radius, with the larger stores on the East (Elizabeth) and West (Dover) perimeter, respectively.

A few years back, when I was looking for fresh bitter oranges (naranja agria), I think I went to just about every one of them.

The largest grocer, Twin Cities in Elizabeth is as large as my A&P. It's kind of scary, though. I have to shop quickly for fear of having my car stolen while I'm inside. I know the chances are small, but all the same, it's one scary neighborhood. I don't think Señora Fresser would spend much time in there.

They have some amazing deals, though. The bulk spices are especially inexpensive, and, for the most part, very fresh.

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I love shopping in ethnic markets and only once had an unpleasant experience. Not in a Mexican market by the way.

My daughter and I often shop one of the Mexican markets in a nearby town. Absolutely the best pork available, tender and not dry.

They also have a deli area next to the meat counter with excellent tamales.

My grand kids love Mexican sodas so she usually stocks up while we're there.

Edited by BarbaraY (log)
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I love shopping in ethnic markets of all kinds as well. Never had any problems of any kind, though I tend to get stares from time to time. Mexican markets are full of so many wonderful smells and foods. The chile display alone is well worth a trip!

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I shop at Mexican markets all the time. Vallarta Supermercado are big stores, as large, if not larger than many regular markets. Their produce is excellent and the price differences are significant.

Why should I pay 59 cents for ONE lemon at Vons/Pavillions when I can buy them for much less, (sometimes 3 pounds for a dollar) at Vallarta. Same with limes. They have "sweet" limes, which look and taste like Meyer lemons, for much less than Meyer lemons in regular markets, when you can find them.

You can also find produce there that you can't find in regular markets.

Their meats are excellent and you can find stuff there you can't find in regular markets. Goat, for instance, Guinea hens, different cuts of meats.

Their ready-cooked foods are also very good and they have fresh made tortillas, several varieties, that are just wonderful.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Add me to the list of Latino grocer-lovers! :wub:

There are several in Las Vegas, but my favorite is the King Ranch Market (a Los Angeles area based chain) at Vegas and Decatur. I've been shopping there for years. Can't beat the produce section, which is SO superior to the overpriced wizened stuff at Vons or Albertson's (due in part to how heavily shopped it is), and the prices are fantastic. Nobody points and laughs at the pasty-faced middle-aged woman--on the contrary, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful--and I've found plenty of specialty Central and South American ingredients that I'd have to swap my first-born for at Wholefoods, pricewise.

And the meat department....!!!!

And as an added bonus, no crappy mainstream lite rock music. Of course, in among the traditional music there's crappy Latino mainstream lite rock, but at least it isn't in English! :laugh:

Everybody, just go! Forget about the language gap! Go!

(edited because sometimes when I get all excited and happy my spelling suffers)

Edited by Philanthrophobe (log)

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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Just to tempt you. The flyer from Vallarta was in today's mail.

Photos not wonderful, flash a bit bright but this should give you some idea of prices:

How much do you pay for lemons? These are 2 pounds for a dollar, the golden mangos are 3 for a dollar and they are good sized.

gallery_17399_60_31715.jpg

gallery_17399_60_72936.jpg

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Plenty of Mexican mercados of varying size in the Chicago area. I have found the meat priced far lower with better quality than the chains. The butchers custom cut the meat. I typically buy the razor thin pork chops, pork tenderloins, chicken livers and skirt steak. My really bad high school and travellers spanish and plenty of hand gestures work well. The butchers are friendly and the patrons watch the transaction smiling. The produce is way cheaper and actually ripe. I buy lemons-(25 cents each) and limes (10 cents each), finger bananas and pinapples which are usually ready to eat. The tomatoes seem to be better too. However I find grocery items to be high priced. Plus, they do not stock skim milk.

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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It's not the $2/pound lemons that's the amazing price, it's the strawberries at $.99 a basket. Frankly, they aren't my favorite berry but at $.99 a basket I could learn to love them very easily :wink:

Oh, and I second all the other posts about the fun and adventure of shopping ethnic markets. They're a good deal here in San Diego too, you don't need a huge amount of Spanish to navigate them and the quality on many items is often times better than the big retail chains.

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Hmmm.... We seem to be leaving the particularities of a Mexican mercado suddenly. Of course, there aren't really any such things as "ethnic" stores in general. Even here in Providence, there is great specificity from one place to another: we go to Sanchez and Tortilleria Piaxtla for Mexican stuff and Nuñez for Dominican. Ditto Asian: there are stores here that cater specifically to Japanese, Thai, Korean, Pakistani, Cambodian, Chinese, Philipino, and Indian foodstuffs. Of course, back in southern Arizona whence my Castañeda in-laws hail, there's even greater specificity within the general category of "Mexican" mercados.

Speaking of specificity, when I reread the original post, I noticed this:

Jiménez Mercado was very well-lit and clean, and about as big as most chain groceries.  All the signs in the produce section were listed in English and Spanish, which was helpful for the occasional Gringo that tumbled in.  It seemed that Mama and I were the only Americans in the place, which was kind of fun actually.

I wasn't really sure how you and Mama were able to distinguish who was and wasn't "American" while watching people shopping! After all, my MIL, citizen y nana Elsie Castañeda -- on whose tamales I report in this post -- has been living, cooking, and eating in the US her entire life. :wink:

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I love to shop at ethnic grocers. We have some nice Mexican, Oriental, Greek and Middle Eastern markets near by. So much more interesting, better selection and quality of certain items there than the local big box grocer.

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It's not the $2/pound lemons that's the amazing price, it's the strawberries at $.99 a basket. Frankly, they aren't my favorite berry but at $.99 a basket I could learn to love them very easily  :wink:

Oh, and I second all the other posts about the fun and adventure of shopping ethnic markets.  They're a good deal here in San Diego too, you don't need a huge amount of Spanish to navigate them and the quality on many items is often times better than the big retail chains.

It is two pounds for a dollar, not two dollars a pound. And the strawberries are 99 cents for a ONE- POUND clamshell. This is pretty good because at the produce market a flat of 8, 8 ounce baskets - 4 pounds, is 8.50.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Just want to add that lots of dark people who speak foreign languages are in fact, American. Often even US citizens.

There are many reasons why the prices may be lower other than the fact that workers decide to organize and form a legal union. I'm going to guess that executive salaries might be just as much if not more, of an issue.

Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Hispanic groceries are the best for queso fresco, good chorizo, and mangos. And you generally can't beat the prices! As a starving student, I can pick up a small pack of chorizo, some queso fresco, an onion, and some torillas, and have two or three quite nice meals for under $10. (And then I can go and blow all the money I saved at Uchi, but that's neither here nor there.)

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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It is two pounds for a dollar, not two dollars a pound.  And the strawberries are 99 cents for a ONE- POUND clamshell.  This is pretty good because at the produce market a flat of 8, 8 ounce baskets - 4 pounds, is 8.50.

Drat that ADD/Dyslexia :shock: $.50/pound is, indeed, a very good price for lemons.

I guess I shouldn't add that 10 days ago in Patzcuaro, MEX a Kilo of fresas (strawberries) was going for 5 pesos, which is about $.50. Deep red, fragrant, ripe, large berries, possibly even organic.

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One of the things I have noted at my local Asian and Hispanic markets is that they seem to be family affairs, in both cases run by an iron-clad tiny little grandma.

I wonder how much of this affects the prices? Across the board, prices are less.

Do other's think that their local "ethnic" markets are family owned and run?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Just want to add that lots of dark people who speak foreign languages are in fact, American. Often even US citizens.

I noticed that too and was going to mention it--works both ways though--several or more years ago I was at a small Chinese restaurant (in Manhanttan,NYC) with an old friend who's an Asian American (born in Hong Kong but US citizen for years and years) and a friend of hers--who is also an American, is also Asian but was born in (and I think she lived there for a number of years) and still has family in the Dominican Republic. They start conversing in Chinese (which I don't understand or speak unfortunately), probably a Cantonese dialect; then suddenly my friend says--in English--oh, you can order that she's (meaning me) is good for an American. Meaning, she told me later, that I was "good" about trying new or strange foods--for a white (mostly, anyway) person. I've remembered her saying that partly because I thought it was odd-she's just as much of an American as I am--partly because it was a compliment. Very enjoyable to to go out to eat with, my friend, very knowledgeable about food and cooking and enjoys eating--always ready to try something new and interesting.

I've wondered if her kids--all of whom were born in the US and have lived only in the US--also have that perception of only white (and perhaps African-Americans?) as 'real' Americans. I hope not.

azurite

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Speaking of specificity, when I reread the original post, I noticed this:
Jiménez Mercado was very well-lit and clean, and about as big as most chain groceries.  All the signs in the produce section were listed in English and Spanish, which was helpful for the occasional Gringo that tumbled in.  It seemed that Mama and I were the only Americans in the place, which was kind of fun actually.

I wasn't really sure how you and Mama were able to distinguish who was and wasn't "American" while watching people shopping! After all, my MIL, citizen y nana Elsie Castañeda -- on whose tamales I report in this post -- has been living, cooking, and eating in the US her entire life. :wink:

Hey, I meant no slight, people. But given that Chicago is a port of entry (or destination) for many immigrants, and considering the dialects that I heard, I'm guessing that many of the folks were pretty recent immigrants.

Is that bad? No way, José. Some parts of Chicago have large Russian and Polish immigrant populations. Many (but not all) Home Depots here have aisle signs printed in both English and Polish. Other stores and social service agencies have signs printed in Russian.

Who knows--maybe I wanted to be one of the only two Americans in the place. It seemed like a portal to a foreign country--so much so that when I saw English language magazines at the checkout, initially couldn't I even read them. I was too tuned into Spanish. Though this may suprise some, I've never traveled outside the U.S., so maybe visiting an ethnic grocery and feeling like the "outsider" (or lone American) is my version of a passport.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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Mexican supermarkets are the only place we shop, except for Bobacks's (Polish) and Caputos's (International, but originally Italian.) The supermercado's prices and quality are amazing, and the language problem negligible.

We're also lucky, in my area of the Chicago burbs, to have a variety of supermercados in a five mile radius. Talk about luxury!

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

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Hey, I meant no slight, people.  But given that Chicago is a port of entry (or destination) for many immigrants, and considering the dialects that I heard, I'm guessing that many of the folks were pretty recent immigrants.

Is that bad? No way, José.  Some parts of Chicago have large Russian and Polish immigrant populations.  Many (but not all) Home Depots here have aisle signs printed in both English and Polish.  Other stores and social service agencies have signs printed in Russian. 

Who knows--maybe I wanted to be one of the only two Americans in the place.  It seemed like a portal to a foreign country--so much so that when I saw English language magazines at the checkout, initially couldn't I even read them.  I was too tuned into Spanish.  Though this may suprise some, I've never traveled outside the U.S., so maybe visiting an ethnic grocery and feeling like the "outsider" (or lone American) is my version of a passport.

I hear ya. And when I read your initial post, I just subbed "pasty and monolingual" for American! :raz:

I haven't been to any other country either, and it's not for want of desire to do so--it's a matter of finances. But it doesn't mean I can't explore other cultures via their groceries. Additionally, I sort of hate eating in restaurants--I much prefer to read a few books and then forage for ingredients and make stuff at home. It's so much more satisfying, and on a number of levels.

And I love that feeling of having "traveled" without even having to step outside the city limits!

edited becawze o' baahd spellin

Edited by Philanthrophobe (log)

"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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Re: who's gringo or not, with my dark hair and eyes, and Spanish surname, I'm often mistaken for a Latina. Pero, hablo muy poquito espanol. Y soy Cajun. It's all good...

Shoppers Food Warehouse is a de facto latino mercado here in Annapolis. There are a few tiny tiendas, but I haven't investigated them. I love the produce, bean, spice, cheese, and meat selections. Oh yeah, and the prices rock. My favorite example is chayotes -- $2/ea at the local Giant, 4/$2 at Shoppers.

Of course, mirlitons (as they're called in my native Louisiana) are the kind of thing I grew up getting for free because just about everyone grew them. Sigh...

Bridget Avila

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