Visiting the stores has been a neat experience, and if you recall from when we were in Poland, I enjoy trying local food products. We have been eating out maybe once a week, but after a severe round of the flu on board, we are a little worried it was a food caused flu (even though it took a week to run through most of us, we didn’t all have it at the same time, but days apart) and have become a little cautious of the very small local places. I am pregnant and being sick or having sick kids is not fun. However, we have been having fun trying different products from the stores.
I found that I love queso Chihuahua. I don’t know if it is available in the US, as I have never looked for it there, but it is really yummy and melts nicely in quesadillas or burritos. I hope I can find it when I get home as I really like it. The cheese I see most often here queso Manchengo They sell it in huge amounts and there are many different brands of it. Of course we tried it. And it is good too, has a very mellow taste like monterey cheese.
I haven’t needed fresh meat, since we brought a lot with us frozen. Their meat departments scare me, so I am glad I haven’t need to buy any. All the raw meat, chicken or beef or pork is placed on an open table in bins for you to bag yourself.
Open shelves is also how their bakery department is set up too. They have lots of yummy donuts and pastries that we have been trying, but everything is out in the open and you just serve up yourself. You place what you would like onto a tray with tongs and then take the tray to a counter where someone places it in a bag and prints out a ticket with the price. I try not to think about all the little kids with dirty fingers who have probably touched the goodies or sneezed on them.
They have several different types of mango’s here, so I always pick up some of those. We had fresh mango salsa with dinner one night. Yum. I also bought a little yellow fruit that I did not see a name on. After a week I finally figured it out, they were guava’s or guayaba in Spanish. They are tasty, but their seeds are super hard, small and there are 100’s of them, so you have to get past swallowing them to enjoy. The onions in the stores are all cleaned up, no dried outsides on them, they are peeled down to the fresh layer. I haven’t figured out why they do that, but am curious. I haven’t found yellow onions here, mostly white and red. The lettuce is almost always out or what is left never looks very fresh. But they seem to have a lot of cabbage, big cabbage. Maybe it is just the time of year, but I would never have associated cabbage with Mexican food. But it is often served on the side of the dishes we order when out along with pickled onions. That could be why the lettuce looks so dreary—they are just using cabbage? One time we went shopping at walmart and tomato’s were on my list, but they were out, no tomatos, not red or green to be found in the store at all. I found that odd.
Just this last year I have started using dried beans rather than canned. The nutrional value of dried beans is 3 times greater than canned. It just takes a little more planning. I try to make a lot and then freeze what we don’t use so I have some on hand for when I need them quickly. I have been using a pressure cooker on the boat for the last few months and that has made cooking dried beans much quicker and easier. We have tried a new kind of beans here, Mayo Coba beans. They are a little yellowish looking but are very yummy. I hope I can find those is the US too. I have picked up another new kind to try, but haven’t made them yet. We also have plantains waiting to be cooked. We have had those several times in the florida keys or bahamas, I have not cooked with them myself, so I am excited they are common here and can try out frying them.
While I didn’t get it at a store, coconuts are quite plentiful here. I was given one from a church member so I had to figure out what to do with it. I scraped out the meat, blended it with hot water, squeezed it to make coconut milk, which we added to a thai chicken dish for dinner. Now I just need to get David to learn how to know when one is ripe and how to cut open the coconut. I can taste coconut ice cream in our future. I have also been watching youtube videos on how to clean and prep Conch meat. All the big shells you see on vacation are Conch shells. Very popular in the Florida Keys and Bahamas as well as here. We have eaten them in restaurants in both places in the past. We have been told that one of the bays we will be stopping in on our way to Belize has many Conch in the sand bores. We plan to pick up a few from the bay floor and attempt to clean and prep some Conch, essentially the snail that lives in the shell, for a yummy meal. I am already planning to make Conch fritters. You’ll have to check back for a future post to see if that works out or not.