Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Whole Foods Grocery Store of San Miguel

Chilmole! I found it. Right here in San Miguel. Remember the cooking class I wrote about where Patricia Quintana used Chilmole which is a typical Yucatecan spice and I was lamenting about where I'd ever find it in San Miguel. Wayne and LeeAnn who live in the Southern part of Mexico offered to send me some. Isn't that nice? But I told them that I wanted to check a couple of places here first. Sure enough, I found it in Super Bonanza on Mesones.

I go into Bonanza on a regular basis because I know that I can often find things that I won't see polenta or mascarpone cheese.....but it is usually with my list in hand and I haven't taken the time to really look around. Yesterday I went exploring the store with the camera in hand. The store is about 12 to 14 feet wide and 75 feet deep. See the picture above. That is it. There are no carts in the store and two people in the aisle have to turn shoulders to pass each other. There is one tiny alcove off to the side that houses the "deli." But the variety of things that they have is simply amazing.
We have friends coming to see us and I had asked if they could bring Chinese five spice powder. I think I found it in Bonanza yesterday. So much of the label was covered up that I'm just guessing but I think this is it. Also right beside it was Spring Roll wrappers and roasted seaweed. I mentioned to a friend that I was surprised that they would carry so much of this for the gringos. She has lived in Mexico a long time and she reminded me that the Mexicans who have the income love Chinese food and Sushi. I also found Chinese noodles. Ricotta cheese, blue cheese, cheddar. Basmati rice or wild rice. Do you want raspberry vinegar? Aged balsamic vinegar? They have it along with a lot of other vinegars, some pickles, relishes, and sauces of all kinds. Just like at Whole Food Markets in the USA you can buy spices, grains, flours, and seeds in bulk. And if you are thinking that this is a grocery store for the gringos, think again. The prices are very reasonable and there are lots of Mexicans shopping there. Still in the San Miguel email groups there are gringos complaining about what they can't buy in grocery stores here. We have Herdez Picante sauce but they want Pace Picante sauce. I don't know why some of the ex-pats stay here. They don't really want to make any adjustments for living in a foreign country.

Really we are so lucky here in San Miguel. We have friends who have a business in Patzquaro and so they spend a lot of time there. The vegetables that they can find are limited. The grocery stores are limited. But in the five years we have lived here, I'm amazed at the variety of foods we can find might be a little different than it was in the USA but to me the "difference" is the fun of living here.

You can see more of Super Bonanza here.


Cynthia said...

So glad you pointed out the virtues of shopping at Bonanza. While I have shopped there several times, I am not settled enough to do real grocery shopping. Like you, I have arrived with a list in hand. I did notice the selection of Tone's seasonings (like the ones we buy here at Sam's) and planned to go back for those and to take a better look around.

In the past, I shopped at Espino's, where aisles are wide and shopping carts are plentiful. Now Bonanza is much closer to our house. Nice to see the strong points of Bonanza in print.

Can it really be in the 70's there? Our heat advisory is out again today and it's hot, hot, hot!

Babs said...

Billie - Great post! Love the store and am always amazed at the things I find there and NOWHERE else!
One of the reasons for the love of Chinese food in Mexico is that it was part of the "China Trade Route" and also possibly that many Mexicans are part Chinese!!! Have read great stories about this.......I had a painter in Houston from Veracruz and you would have sworn he was from China!

Suzanne said...

I really love your blog and photos; had to pipe up to say that is a picture of Japanese pepper, usually used for udon/soba soups, not Chinese Five Spice. Hope you find what you are looking for!

Billie said...

Okay, thanks for the help Suzanne. I read in Spanish something about cinco chilis but I was hoping that it was the Chinese five spice. I have a friend who is coming to visit and she is looking for it in Houston to bring down to me. If she can't find it, I know some places to look when I get back to Houston.
Glad you like the blog.

Ian Mahuron said...

That's Nanami Togarashi, not Chinese Five Spice Powder. It's a Japanese chili pepper seasoning with orange peel, sesame seeds, ginger and possibly nori. It is wonderful on steamed vegetables.

You can mix your own five spice powder. Just google for a recipe. If you're dead set on buying pre-made, the label should have 3 chinese characters, the first of which will be δΊ” (numeral 5).

Billie said...

Thanks Ian. I did find five-spice powder and one of these days I'll try Nanami Togarashi.