Grocery Shopping in Isla Mujeres
Now, many of you will remember my last grocery experience in the States, commonly known as "the Winn Dixie incident" or, "Grocery Store Trip from Hell". (see provisioning).
Well, I am happy to inform everyone that the grocery shopping in Isla is quite a different experience. Now, I didn't say it was easy.... actually, there are many food items that I recognize (mainly the fresh fruit and vegetable variety), but many that I don't. (Is that a banana or a plantain???) Have finally gotten smart and taken my Spanish-English dictionary with me so that I will know for sure what I am buying. One thing I have learned about the grocery store is not to assume just because you found it there the first time, it is going to be there the next time. I bought some Quaker Oaks granola to serve over yogurt and fruit for our breakfast. Well, we got hooked on it and the next two times I went to the grocery store...no granola! One day I was in the grocery and they were out of limes! They use limes on everything here... how can they run out of limes?? So, now, if I find something I like, I try to stock up!
Another little thing they throw on you is all of the weights for the fruits and vegetables are sold by the kilo (remember that math stuff 2.2 lbs=1 kg). See that banana price in the photo? Looks like it is 9.85 pesos ($.0.98 US) /lb. Is actually 9.85 pesos/kg, so the bananas are about 40 pesos/lb. (That's $0.40 US to you and me). So, a lot of exchanging and converting going on in the grocery. Trust me, I definitely do not go to the grocery store in the morning before my brain wakes up. This is an excursion best done in early afternoon.
Just another thing to confuse you besides the money exchange. Which, by the way, is quite easy. 10 pesos=1 US dollar.... so for you slow ones in the bunch (which frequently include us, especially after a big meal with plenty of wine)... 184 pesos= $18.40 US. And they also have all of this beautiful paper money and coins (which I have YET to figure out) that are impossible to see in the dark. I have tried to give LA a 200 peso note instead of a 20 peso one for a cab ride...he gets quite frustrated with me because I never have my glasses on and I can't see a darn thing!) (Reminder to self: put a flashlight in my purse and wear glasses!). Fortunately, Tom at the marina has been very generous to us and we have been using his golf cart to go to town, so we rarely have to take a cab.
Unfortunately, however, many of the items in the grocery store don't have prices on them...some do, some don't. The fruits and vegetables all have prices listed on the big yellow signs (priced per that darn peso/kg thing). The packaged foods have some prices listed on the shelves. But a lot of times the prices are missing. So it is a surprise when you get to the cash register and they start to scan (yes, they scan!). So, I don't really worry about getting screwed over on the price, I just can't keep up with what I spend as I shop along.
The bread around here is to die for (yes, Mama...we are eating bread again! I know you will rest easy now!). The rolls, loaves, and croissants are baked fresh every day. You pick up what you want and place it on a tray and the clerk puts a quantity and price code on a brown paper bag and staples the bag shut. When you heat these in the oven and slather on some butter, it just doesn't get any finer! They have this fabulous butter in a tin that comes from New Zealand. It doesn't have to be refrigerated until after it is opened. It is to die for! I found out from a friend that this cannot be found south of Isla, so I am stocking up! The prices are very inexpensive as well... about $0.50 US for a nice sized roll and $1 US for a loaf of bread. And, I haven't even tried any of the pastries.... I really want to, but I would really like to not have to buy new clothes when I "grow" out of my current ones!
Some of the meat to be on the expensive side if it is imported from the US. I paid $ 2.14 US for a package of Oscar Meyer bacon (about 20 slices, about half the size package we see in USA). Bought 6 chicken breasts for about $5, so that was reasonable. They were very good and the meat was trimmed up nicely. I haven't tried the steaks yet, but they have rib-eyes and all kinds of flank steak for fajitas and the meat looks good. I have lots of Omaha steaks in my freezer, so we are still eating good old USA USDA beef!
Examples of Spanish=English language conversions and food prices:
queso=cheese (ok, that one's pretty easy..remember chili con queso... but, ok, what KIND of cheese???)
butter=mantequilla (would have never figured that one out!) ($1.23/stick) (can also buy New Zealand tinned butter that does not have to be refrigerated until it is opened. $5.20/pound...is fabulous!)
queso philadelphia=philadelphia cream cheese ($ 2.15/block)
media crema=sour cream ($ 2.39/8oz)
limon=lime (gotcha on that one...now, I would have thought that was for lemons, which they don't have around here, but thankfully due to the green color it was a dead giveaway). ($ 1.87/doz)
fresa=strawberry ($ 4.63/carton)
melon chino=cantalope ($ 0.97 each)
cebolla roja=red onion ($ 0.19/small one)
lechuga=lettuce ($ 0.92/head)
tocino=bacon (Oscar Meyer 20 slices/$ 2.14!)
bolillo=rolls (yes, handmade, and they are fabulous ($0.50/each)
uva blanca=white seedless grapes ($2.46/bunch)
granola=granola ($3.19 3/4 lb.)
leche la lecher=large milk/cream birthday cake ($9.96/large cake)
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