Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Adventures at a New Supermarket

Every supermarket here in the west is better for SOMEthing. Pueblo has the meat cuts we like, the Sabana Grande Mr. Special has good vegetables, the Mayaquez Mr. Special has the best prices for canned things and Grande in Yauco has "unusual" things for around here like Pita Chips, artichoke hearts, Dark Rye bread etc. A few days ago I went with my neighbor Awilda to her mom's, a grocery trip to the big Econo in Ponce and then we picked up her husband's truck (he is in the National Guard and just shipped out for a year). Econo was the first supermarket where there were a jillion people working, people actually helping customers (they cut some flank steak for me - and knew what that was) and there were NO LINES! Gobs of people and gobs of checkers! There were very very good prices on things and some very interesting meats.

First you have to understand that I generally dislike meat. I can't eat soy any more so I am stuck eating it and can stomach what I call "disinfected" or "sterilized" meat - meat that doesn't look like what it is. Stuff without bones, fat, skin or anything resembling the animal that it was. So now you can understand my fascination and horror at the meat counter...

Tongue - I understand that in most parts of the world people eat this and enjoy it. I rarely encountered it in US supermarkets and definitely wouldn't spend $6.50 for a hunk of tongue!

I'm not sure what this even is. Maybe pork belly or skin or something. What would you even do with this?

Here's a display of assorted parts. The most striking difference to me in food here is that there is no color. All the viandas are white/brown (and hairy), the fish is all dried and white, all these meat things are white, onion are white. I guess culantro and pimentos are green but not much else. Is this true in the north?

One of my favorites - feet. I'm sorry, but this stuff just gives me nightmares! It is bad enough when you can't tell what it was but when it has wings, or hooves still on it - yuck!

The best for last - bull balls! I didn't realize they had those neat little veins all through them - kind of a neat pattern. Do you cook the crap out of them and stuff them? Grind them up? Fry them? I can't even imagine. There are many foods I enjoy here (Yucca, Name, calabaza, pinons) and some that I just cannot even think about. I am adventurous in a lot of ways but I'd rather eat a bug than a ball.


Anonymous said...

Eeuuu ... Ham, you are giving me even more nightmares with that link! I don't eat bologna, spam, cans of meat things but have on occasion eaten hot dogs (packed full of snouts and that gooey pink stuff in your link) and pepperoni on pizza. That stops now! I have never been a fan of stocks made of bones and bits (but like gravy if I don't think of it as eating blood). If I didn't have to see it being made or touch it myself eating it can be ok, more flavorful if a soup. I don't understand organ eating, especially liver - why eat the organ that cleanses all the crap out of your body - seems like a concentrated party of "bad" things all in one place! I used to like Hagan Daaz ice cream until I read an article that equated it to eating a bowl of Crisco shortening. Now it is sorbet or nothing! Well, in June I am going to St Croix for the aquaponics course and hopefully will be growing our own fish and vegetables and herbs and can avoid "yucky" stuff. That pink goo image will be with me for a while. Oh, they are making good progress on your folks' new addition. You'll have a lot more room when you visit next time! katrina

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Katrina, I didn't mean to shock you that way! It did shock me when a friend send it to us. I told my wife to switch to the soy based hot dogs. I know the kids might complain, but they'll get used to it. I have also stopped eating salami, and ham spread which were my favorite unhealthy snacks. I remember as a kid watching a lady prepare the infamous blood sausage ("morcillas") in PR and I ended up with nightmares like Friday the 13th movie, LOL! I finally tried a little piece when I was in my mid 20s.

The hydroponics trip to St. Croix sounds fascinating. Years ago I wanted to make a pond in our house yard near the Maria tree, but never got to, I was busy with school back then. We were going to transport/pump some water from the creek, bring it to the pond and then send back the excess to the creek -- almost like a reservoir, I guess. Now you have too many houses between yours and the "quebrada", but perhaps you can come up with a biological filtering process. I know a couple of places in Orlando, FL that used to sell Hydroponics vegetables and they were great! Great project indeed, you can do all that and more in PR and you both are incredibly creative!

Take care,


PS Yes my parents are excited, their house was too small to host. Thanks for keeping in touch with them!!!

Anonymous said...

Cuajo or pig stomach is used in Mondongo--closer to mexican menudo than pozole. Menudo is made with beef tripe generally as opposed to pork. In mexico pork stomacj is fried like carnitas and called buche--it is eaten in tacos. Pozole has hominy (nixtamal--lye cured or pickled dried corn that sort of swells and explode0 and espinazo or pork back bones it often also includes whole chickens. Never herd of stomach on Pozole--but it may be done in some areas.

Pigs feet are best for habichiuelas. They really make them good by adding a velvety texture from all the gelatin and collagen. Patas in habichuelas are truly jibaro, and habichuelas with patitas are the best.

As for bulls testicles; they are generally eaten lightly sauteed or stewed.

The food is white because Puerto Ricans eat a lot of pork, and chicken--not so much beef. To add color achiote, recao, tomato, and sofrito or recaito are used as well as pimento and peas or olives.

The color of the food, uncooked, does not really vary by region. Pork is pork, chiocken is chicken, and white fish is prefered--tuna used to be considered an undesirable fish in Puerto Rico--people much prefer snapper, grouper, or hogfish (capitan).

Skai said...

Peace - Well I am a vegetarian living here in PR. Can I tell you going grocery shopping is definitely a different experience. I realize that my diet has been completely compromised because frankly PRicans just dont consume veggies. Everywhere I go the side salad is a piece of iceberg lettuce and a pink tomato. Amazingly enough SUBWAY is my favorite restaurant now, because I can actually get a veggie burger or a salad. How long will that last? I hope to introduce some veggie dishes here in PR (Im a chef too). My colon cant take all these starches. Love your writings. Peace Skai

Anonymous said...

Skai - I am wanting to experiment with some of the Puerto Rican traditional food to kind of "healthify" it and capitalize on all the fresh things you can grow here. There are so many wonderful fresh fruits and interesting vegetables that I want to grow things and use them in interesting ways. I love the presentation of pastelles (love the green of the banana leaf and the "package" concept) but don't love the oil saturated viandas and odd tasting meats. I like the rice and chicken ones if the meat isn't gristly, but why not use yucca with raisens and calabaza chunks? Why not have some arroz and pina dessert pastelles? How about Thai and Puerto Rican inspired cucumber lemon grass breadfruit pastelles without the annato and oil but with curry and sesame oil? Just thinking out loud. katrina