I Moved To Oaxaca

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Greg said tonight that he considers my mom´s house in Mexia our home away from home -- sorta like Beorn´s house wedged between wastelands. I´ll add that we´re getting pretty comfy at our neighborhood Internet cafe, too. We don´t say "buenos noches" or "hasta luego" anymore, just "mañana."

I went shopping today as we didn´t leave any food in the apartment for the week we were gone. The local Pitico, a small supermarket. TP, milk, rice, pasta -- simple stuff. Like I said, it´s a small store, yet it devotes an entire isle to sweets, and another to booze! If our landlady didn´t buy our 5-gallon jugs of drinking water off the aguadores, I could buy one at Pitico. And the salsa and canned chile selection is quite complete. I can´t buy chunk tomatoes in a can, though, only tomato sauce. And they don´t sell corn tortillas. Gotta get those from Gigante (the big supermarket) or a neighborhood tortilla lady, only we haven´t yet found our neighborhood tortilla lady. I did find tlayuda-size tortillas (about the size of your computer monitor screen) at the Benito Juarez open air market. And on Saturday, when the great big market hits the Abastos, I could probably find some there ... or at one of the moving markets. There´s one tomorrow near our apartment. And I´ve never seen tortillas at the miscellaneas, aka corner stores.

In the street food arena, while I haven´t yet worked up the nerve to try the scrumptious-looking boiled corn-on-a-stick (garnished with lime juice and chile powder), I did see a car parked on our corner, across from the Bimbo hot dog vendor, doing quite a business in ... something. Since I didn´t want to go the store hungry, I took a peek and saw that two women were selling pastries out of their trunk. They had fruit tartlettes, pay de queso*, and doughnuts. Not quite brave enough for the pay de queso so I bought a chocolate donut for 3 pesos -- about 25 cents. That was one good doughnut! No greasy texture or residue, just lovely slightly sweet pastry flirting somewhere between cake and bread. Mmm. As tasty as the LLano Park pancake lady´s confections.

(That corn really does look good, though, and the vendors are always mobbed. Soon.)

*Who´s got a Spanish phrasebook? Look up the Spanish word for "pie." I´ll bet you it says "torta," "empanada," or "pastel," right? Well, that´s a sandwich, a filled and folded tortilla, and a candy. What´s the deal? Don´t Spanish people eat pie? I asked my friend Alex Cabrera from Cosumnes River Preserve about this and he said, Mexican people don´t make pies, so we call that particular pastry "pie" -- spelled "pay" but pronounced the same as "pie." So "pay de queso" is cheese pie, or cheesecake. And that´s why the only kitchen equipment I brought to Oaxaca was my rolling pin, shortening cutter, and pie tins.


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