Sunday, February 07, 2010

Intensity of the Commonplace

After being rained in for five days since our return from Texas, I finally was able to hit the streets on Friday. There is construction on my usual route into town so I went up Canal to the Centro. I have to go to the same place up hill when I travel on Pila Seca but somehow Pila Seca is a more gradual climb. Canal is kind of a straight shot up hill. I've been gone for over a month and I thought I might have to stop and catch my breath. I didn't. Maybe I was a bit slower but I kept an even pace. It felt so good to know that these old feet and lungs and heart can still take me where I want to go even though they have only had to work at sea level on a flat surface for a while.

The sky was blue. The sun was warm. My heart just filled with joy as I passed shops and shared a "Buenos Dias" with people passing by.  I stopped at Bonanza grocery store and it is so tiny compared to mega stores in the States but once again I marveled at the variety packed onto the shelves. A stop at the butcher shop provided a kilo of filete de res....nicely trimmed and perfect for dinner for some friends on Friday night. Now that I knew what the meat would be for dinner, I went on to the Ramirez Mercado for veggies.

I wish that I could explain the differences between shopping for food here in San Miguel and in Houston. Going to Kroger or HEB in Houston is just going to a grocery store but shopping here is a total sensory and emotional experience. I'm currently reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle so I'm thinking about where my food comes from. I don't think that all that I buy here is organic or even that all of it is local but I do feel closer to the source than I do in the USA. I connect with a person, the vendor, with every potato or onion or slice of bacon that I buy. In the States my only connection with a person in the grocery store is with the checker when I'm leaving the store.

On Saturday I walked over to Parque Juarez to see and do some photography at the giant Spring flower market. I loved walking the winding paths in the parque past vines, flowers, herbs and shrubs and I loved the smell of garden dirt. I did do a bit of photography with the holga lens on the digital camera. One vendor had some snake plants but he only had one pot that matched the variety that I have in the patio garden. I bought it and he promised to have some more on Friday of this week.

Sometimes when we are in Houston, I think that maybe someday we might move back but then I think about the joy of doing such commonplace things as shopping for groceries or walking in the park here in San Miguel. These things in Houston do not have the intensity of doing them in San Miguel. My life would lose a lot of color. In fact, it might become quite pastel.


Nancy said...

Billie, You are so right. SHopping is so much more fun and interesting here. Life is sort of a web of people, touching all over as you pass by and share a word or a smile.

I loved the Kingsolver book, it gave me a lot to think about, especially about eating things when they are in season. Why eat asparagus from Chile in January in the North? Makes no sense.

Glad to see you back and enjoying yourself!

Cheryl said...

I agree about shopping in SMA! What an experience. I can't wait until spring break when we will be there doing our "daily" shopping at the local markets, instead of the "weekly" big box shopping that we do here in Dallas. "Para Hoy?" I LOVE that Cheryl

Billie said...

Glad that you all understand what I'm writing about. It would seem that after renting here for three or four years and then owning our house for going on eight years that I would be past this excitement. Thank goodness, I'm not and I hope the feeling never leaves.

Sam and Bob said...

Billie...I agree with you about walking up Canal. It is definitely a challenging walk. Bob and I were out walking over the weekend. It felt so good to be out and about.

Was the filete de res that your purchased on Friday from the butcher shop just up from Bonanza's? How did you cook the meat? If it is the same market, we like that one.

Billie said...

Sam, yes it was the market up from Bonanza. The one on the corner. I rub it with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it on a rack in a 425 degree oven for about 25 minutes, until the center is 120 degrees. Then let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting. You have to be careful not to over cook because it is so lean. I have also cut them about 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick and grilled them. Sometimes I wrap bacon around them. Also I've sliced them about 1/4 inch thick, quickly sauteed them, removed them from the pan then added some arromatic and made a pan sauce of some kind to pour over them.

Heather said...

Love this post! I know how you feel. I used to love going to Reading Terminal Market when we lived in Philadelphia for our groceries. There are separate stands for everything and if one place doesn't have what you are looking for, they'll tell you who they think has it usually. Once I was looking for plain beef bones for making broth. Another time, I was looking for natural sausage casings to try our hand at making sausage. Both times, I found what I wanted and the people at the stands got to know me over the years. We still order our Thanksgiving turkey from the one Amish stand at the RT Market. They know us by now as the people with the really large family that gets 2 over 30 lb turkeys for dinner every year. Their prices are great, and it's great having a laugh with them about how many people have joined the family. This past year we had another sister get married and we had our twins, not that they were eating turkey yet!