December 12, 2006

A trip to Paiz

Produce section in Paiz grocery, La Ceiba, Honduras

Come on a trip to the new grocery store with me. Sorry, guys; maybe I'll take a trip to the
ferretería (hardware store) another day, although I think I've had enough of those to last a lifetime. If we had Home Depot, that would be another story. I Home Depot.

Paiz is the name of a chain of groceries, partly owned by Walmart. I'm sorry to say that Honduras is not deemed WalMart worthy, but I'll accept this little bone that they have thrown us. I was impressed with the new produce section, shown in the photo above.

And the store is laid out much better. Before it was like an obstacle course to try to get through the aisles. It seems Hondurans hold meetings in the grocery store aisles, and no amount of "perdon" (pardon me) will break it up to let you pass.

These carrots crack me up! I have never seen carrots as big as in Honduras. Two carrots = two pounds. I've seen them as big a two pounds each. Needless to say, they don't have much flavor at that size and they are very watery.

The chiles are pretty, but they had not one single green chile, a staple of Honduran cooking, in the entire store.

This is something new: Bag your own bulk rice and beans. It's a good idea, I think, but I was disappointed to find my black beans (US 0.39/lb.) were full of rice, too. Speaking of black beans, that's relatively new as well. For the first 3 years we were here, the only black beans we could find were in cans.

Hoo-boy! Was I ever excited to see this Grey Poupon Dijon mustard (US $4.21). The last bottle of authentic Grey Poupon that I found was in 2001. It was at a gas station convenience store.

Then I explored the Christmas aisle and bought these two coffee cups (US $1.10 each) and three candle holders (US $0.75 each). Cute, huh? Made in China.

The next aisle was the flip-flop aisle. We need a year-round flip-flop aisle. I do especially because my dogs enjoy biting chunks out of mine. My flip-flops: US $1.90.

Just like in the U.S., we have our selection of 101 dry cereals.

This oatmeal worries me, though. I just hate to see things with labels like this. What does that mean? Are Americans being protected from something that they don't care if the rest of us eat? In case you can't see it, it reads, "Made in the USA exclusively for international sales."

How does this 12-year-old Chivas price compare? L. 379 equals US $20 (plus 15% tax). I opted for a Chilean wine, Torres Sangre de Toro (Blood of the Bull) instead, just because I liked the sound of the name. Well, also because they didn't have much of a selection. It was $8.92.

It is a little unusual to go around arranging vegetables and packages for pictures so I warranted my own armed guard following me around the store. Maybe he thought I was an industrial spy or something. After the first hour of shopping and watching me read labels, he got bored and left me alone. Luckily he didn't have to pull his weapon on me.

I didn't buy this Pit Bull, "Attitude in a Can," but it makes me laugh whenever I see it. For some reason, it made me think of commentor Liar-Liar. ;-)

Lots of items, like this detergent, come in plastic bags instead of cardboard boxes or cans. Tomato sauces also come in a plastic or foil type packaging which are much less expensive than the American canned brands.

If they aren't using this type of packaging in the US yet, I think they should. Much less debris for the landfills, unless the bottles and cans get recycled.

This picture shows mayonnaise, which can be bought in a glass jar (bottom shelves), a plain plastic bag (third shelf from top), or a plastic dispenser bag (second shelf from top; what are these called?). I really like those − very neat for using, no knife or spoon for washing later and you can squeeze out every last drop without sticking your hand inside the jar.

I just had to show you this decorative papaya ship, complete with army men and a US flag, in the fish case.

Those fish along side the papaya are tilapia. Tilapia is a big export product here in Honduras. We only get the ones that are too small for export, though.

I was surprised that the store had become about 2/3 clothes and miscellaneous items and 1/3 groceries. Apparently because of the lack of space, they now store margarine in the grocery aisles instead of in the refrigerator cases. I don't like this!

The long plastic tubes to the left of the margarine are
manteca (hydrogenated palm oil), a staple of Honduran cooking used for making flour tortillas and frying foods.

I don't know if this laundry soap is available in the US. These are bars of soap used for hand washing clothes. The soap is rubbed into the wet clothes and then they are scrubbed on a wash board or sometimes a rock in the river (seriously). If you can find it, try a bar. They are really excellent for hand washing or for stain removal. They work much better than those expensive spray stain removers. Here they cost about 50 cents US.

After I checked out, the manager came over to present me with a L.100 certificate, since my purchase was over a certain amount. The last thing I wanted to do was more shopping after 3 hours of it (well, I had to check out the new store, didn't I?) but the certificate was good only for today. L.100 is $5, so I started down an aisle to look for something to buy. What do I see but another display of Dijon mustard! What am I thinking?! I waited 5 years for this and I'm only going to buy one? Of course not!

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