May 15, 2013

Simple shopping

 My (not so new anymore) new chair – comfy!

This is another one of those old articles that never got posted. I think this one is a couple of years old.

A few months ago, we made our annual pilgrimage to the big city, San Pedro Sula, thus single handedly improving the economy of Honduras with all of our purchases. ;-)

We always plan to go more often but don't seem to make it for some reason — mostly because a day trip is a real ordeal (about 3 hours each way on a life-threatening highway) and finding someone reliable to stay overnight and take care of the house and animals isn't easy. [The last time we went to SPS, we just missed a tornado, I think. There were fallen trees all over the highway.]

San Pedro Sula, the second largest city and industrial capital of Honduras, gets a bad rap in my opinion. We love it and would go much more often if it wasn't such a long trip. The traffic is kind of bad, but the city is laid out in such a orderly manner that we hardly ever get lost, unlike Tegucigalpa, where we have spent more time lost than not.

I love Diunsa, which is sort of like a Target without the clothes. They even deliver free to La Ceiba. We also stock up at Pricesmart when we can make it there. One incredible bargain was 2 pounds of Cheddar cheese for about L.200 (about US $10.50), compared to the latest we bought in La Ceiba which was 1 pound for about L.250 (about US $13)! I think that price was a mistake, but that's what they charged us.

In the way of grocery stores, I really love Los Andes. I found almost everything on my list plus a lot more that wasn't on my list, even a few things that PriceSmart didn't have. Los Andes has an incredible variety, even by US grocery store standards. They have cuts of meat that I actually recognize. The only thing we didn't find was hand wipes. They had baby wipes and butt wipes, granite wipes, kitchen wipes, bathroom wipes, bleach wipes, glass wipes, yadda yadda yadda, but no plain hand wipes. Maybe next time. [I haven't even been back to see Los Andes new gigantic super store yet!]

Of course, one disadvantage to all this variety is the decisions, decisions, decisions. For example, in La Ceiba, on rare occasions in recent years, I've found sun-dried tomatoes in a jar. Oh boy! I'll buy those. I might even buy two if the expiration date is far enough off. Los Andes had whole, julienned, and diced. They had tomatoes with basil and without. They had different brands and different sizes. Oh, no! Which is the better? Should I get the big one or the medium one? Sliced or whole? With or without? They must have had 30 different types of rice! Up until a few years ago in La Ceiba, you would have never known that more than one type of rice even existed. The first time I brought home wild rice, Arexy thought something had gone terribly, terribly wrong with the rice.

(There is more risotto in our future. Anyone have a favorite recipe to share? Oh, and remind me to tell Arexy not to fry up the precious arborio rice to go with the beans!)

The funny thing is that rather than feeling at home with the bigger and better variety, I felt a little overwhelmed. I realized that grocery shopping is much simpler in La Ceiba, except for sometimes having to go to 2 or 3 or 4 stores and completing a shopping list in one trip is a virtual impossibility because the stores are always out of something, sometimes even the things that are produced in Honduras, like sugar or our brand of coffee.

Still, there are areas of Honduras where the shopping is even simpler. A fellow blogger once noted that in Gracias, Lempira, if the grocery store has ground meat, for example, the only question is "buy it?" or "don't buy it?". No decisions about regular, low fat, chuck, or supreme there. They have what they have and you buy it or you don't.

It was a fun and successful trip. Do you want to hear what we bought? No, that would probably be boring. I will say that my renewed enthusiasm for cooking has caused El Jefe to say that we need to go back more often.

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