Thursday, March 3, 2011
There are things I have a fond appreciation for and one of those cosas or things is outdoor markets. Perhaps my infatuation with markets comes from having lived most of my life without them. Walmart's grocery section definitely lacks the romance of an earthy foreign market. Whatever country we visit I always want to go to the mercado. The market here on the island is no exception.
Though small in comparisons to most, it is still a cacophony of colors, smells and culture. I love bins full of the ripe fruits and vegetables, or the baskets full of grains and spices. The stalls are lovingly cared for by the owners, who are experts on their wares. I like talking with Helna or Rapheal about when they will have chaya or fresh ginger. You don't have large carts here, so you only buy what you can carry; so you visit them about 3 times a week. I recently went with a Mexican friend to the mercado while she shopped for the ingredients for ceviche. It was like observing a master painter watching her shop. She hand selected every fruit and vegetable, inspecting and squeezing each one before it went in her sack. Even each lime (which I normally just pile into a bag) was pressed in the palm to make sure it was not too hard which is a sign of too little juice or juego in the lime. Next time I go to the the market I am going to buy one of the bright multi-colored bags the locals use.
The bolsa (bag) in itself is a symbol of the mercado experience verses the American brown bag experience. I like to celebrate the simple things in life. So today I celebrate the local mercado! I can hardly wait to return there and squeeze some limes.