Food Shopping

2007.Feb.20 Tuesday · 10 comments

in Food & Recipes, Life

Trujillo, Peru – It’s not that Trujillo doesn’t have supermarkets, though it doesn’t have many of them, it’s just that most of the populace a) wouldn’t trust a supermarket, and b) can’t afford to shop in one. And the city is blessed, if that is the right word, with various major food markets – the Mercado Central, the Mercado Mayorista (wholesale), and others, of which I know of Palermo and La Union, though we didn’t visit… in addition, on the outskirts of town there’s a fish market, though most folks wouldn’t bother to go there separately, since that market supplies the other three, the customers at the fish market are more restaurants and anyone who needs large quantities. I’d mentioned that we’d shopped for food stuffs at the wholesale market to make lunch one day, as well as stock up the “pantry” of Violeta’s kitchen – dried herbs and spices, some grains – anything that she can store long term without refrigeration – you may have noted there was no refrigerator in the kitchen. In fact, refrigeration isn’t overly common in a lot of the barrios, neither in homes nor restaurants – a point which restaurants that have it make clear with signs proclaiming that they actually have a refrigerator… No, in many, if not most, places, things are simply chilled when need be by using small bags of ice bought from a neighboring store – where a ball of ice about the size of an ostrich egg goes for 50 centimos. Unfortunately, this lack of refrigeration holds true in places like the mercados, where fish and meat are displayed out on tile counters, at open air temperature. I didn’t note any sign of behind the counter refrigeration or even ice… it’s best to shop early.

Trujillo Mercado Mayorista
Butcher shop

Trujillo Mercado Mayorista
Grains, beans, canned goods

Trujillo Mercado Mayorista
Fish, and yes, this is where we bought our three lovely bonito tuna for the stew…

Trujillo Mercado Mayorista
Vegetables and fruits

Trujillo Mercado Mayorista
Crabs, mui-mui, and a mix of concha blanca and concha negra, or white and black oblong clams

Okay, before someone asks, the bowl of mui-mui, aka mui mui chino, aka cochito del pacifico, is an anomuran sand crab – they’re little things about the size of hmmm… a “shooter”… remember playing marbles as a kid? They’re used, supposedly, in ceviche, though we never found a cevicheria that offered them, so I never got to try them – though we did find some at the beach… (sorry about the off-focus – was too close to them…)

Mui MuiMui Mui
Mui Mui

The Mercado Central is a bit cleaner and nicer, and not so sprawling out onto the streets, though that’s mostly because it’s located in the middle of downtown where they simply couldn’t sprawl onto the streets, though I’m sure they’d like to. It also has one end devoted to eateries, where you can sample things made with the produce available at the market – including quite possibly the best tamal I’ve ever eaten (and the way people flock to her stand, I gather I’m not alone in my appreciation).

Trujillo Mercado Central

Trujillo Mercado Central
The tamal lady

Trujillo Mercado Central
Fresh cebada, or barley drink – delicious!

Henry shows us a huaba
This is a huaba or pacay

Henry shows us a huaba
…you eat the white flesh that surrounds the seeds… tastes sort of like warm vanilla ice cream, and hence one of it’s monikers – the ice cream bean


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

vnrose February 20, 2007 at 15:35

It has been great fun reading about your trip to Perú as I lived there for 27 great years. Well, some were greater than others! I never thought I would be overcome with nostalgia seeing a photo of pacay!

ksternberg February 20, 2007 at 16:13

I can’ say nostalgia is what overcame me when I saw that photo. But the tamales look good.

dan February 20, 2007 at 17:23

You know, I always thought you were more adventurous than you’ve seemed to be following along this trip!

vnrose February 20, 2007 at 19:15

Oh dear, I hadn’t spotted the tamales! Dan, can you find out exactly what sort of ground corn flour they use for these? Would polenta do the trick? I’d love to make some.

ksternberg February 20, 2007 at 19:21

Actually, I would eat just about anything you discussed on this trip (or the whole blog, for that matter). Like I told you some years ago when you invited me to a dinner: I draw the line at tripe. Yes, I know I’m a total wimp, but there you have it.

dan February 21, 2007 at 00:49

K – Hey, I agree on tripe… which is odd, because I’ll eat all the other innards, but there’s just something about it… but now that I have your response, there’s a guinea pig here with your name on it…

V – polenta just doesn’t do it for tamales. You need maize that’s ground specifically for tamales – it’s a different type of corn and a different coarseness of “grind” – but if you have any markets that carry latin american products near you, it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

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