I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Friday market day. After my last post I strolled over to the Conzatti market, looking for cabbage and jalapenos. I bought a wedge of cabbage last week, and Greg made two Chinese dinners out of it, so I am hoping for more.

I swung by the fish vendors and took a look, but passed. Didn’t look so good this week. Saw a little campesino selling tamales, so I bought four. Mmm. (They turned out to be tamales dulces; no meat, just sweetened masa steamed in the corn husk. Very yummy with a little salsa verde!) In the northwest corner is a fruit and vegetable vendor who I usually buy from, ‘cause Francisco is pretty above-board with me on prices. I was almost at his stall when a bag of little orange fruits caught my eye. I asked what they were, but didn’t write it down. They look like, uh, well, they’re about 2 inches long, oblong, and go from red to mango orange to yellow in color, sometimes on the same fruit. I asked the woman how they’re eaten, and she washed one off and pantomimed popping it into her mouth, then handed it to me. The skin’s a bit tart, and a little bit like the skin on a kumquat, but inside it tastes like a creamy mango. Very good. I bought a bag for ten pesos, then said hi to Francisco. I got a quarter kilo of jalapenos, a quarter head of cabbage, a cucumber, a big bunch of watercress for salad, and some burro bananas. Then I got a hankering for cheese.

So far we’ve been buying manchego, or the Mexican equivalent of Safeway brand bland yellow cheese. But in the market vendors typically sell two other kinds of cheeses: balls of ropy Oaxacan cheese, very similar to string cheese but with a stronger taste, not much to my liking; and queso fresco with or without flavorings. I headed over to the generally busier cheese vendor and took a look. She had rounds of queso fresco, the sides supported by hoops of woven cane, wood, or banana leaves, depending on the size. I stood there, asking myself if I really wanted to experiment with this cheese. Is it pasteurized? How clean is the cheese-making equipment? Has it been sitting in the hot sun in the back of some truck? But the woman behind the counter gave me a slice, and damn it was good. So I bought a queso fresco chico and had some with my tamales for lunch. Mmm. Greg wouldn't eat any; he said he'd wait and see if I got sick first.

I bought a tejate to sip on the way home and headed off. Then I remembered reading in the little paper that publishes the art-house theater schedule that the folks that run the theater were putting on an organic market today, so I turned around and headed uphill to check it out. It was small, but busy. Not too many vegetables, really, mostly prepared foodstuffs or organic health and beauty products. But I did buy some mystery fruits and a jar of local honey. I hope the market's successful!

So now I’m at home, full of yummy tamales and cheese, and making some pickled jalapenos. Maybe string together some dried marigolds. Maybe go out. It’s a nice day.


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