The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Friday, March 27, 2009

To Market to Market...jiggity jig....

This post is about the little things in life. I doubt seriously there are any spiritual parallels I can draw. It's an attempt at painting you a picture of the basics of our lives. What is this little part? Are you ready? Grocery shopping. Amazingly enough this little 'project' takes up quite a bit of my life as people here continue to want to eat.

Hmmm...a bit of history.

I used to love grocery shopping.

Emphasis on USED to...

I remember beautifully organized (!), colorful (!), spacious (!), clean (!), shiny (!) floors, shelves, and checkout stands. Oh and carts! Big ones with wheels! The aisles and aisles of choices were so fun to peruse. It was like a self challenge to get the most for the least. Which brand was the best buy? Which item was the healthiest choice? Which item did I have a coupon for? I never was very good at that last one...

Fast forward a bit. Here's where I'm trying something new - inputing a slide show/flickr set into a blog post itself. Read on and see if it worked.

Edited to add - it didn't work. I'm still on this after two hours of uploading, crashing, re-uploading, arranging, trying to import....blech. I'm giving up for the moment and publishing. I'll list a link to the photo stream for your viewing entertainment towards the end of the post. Oh and another thing, so far I've only been able to get the slide show to work backwards...not helpful. So if you would, start at the last and work your way to the front. WHERE are there lessons on this stuff??? IN PLAIN ENGLISH????

Rant over. Back to post.

First of all the pantry place:

There is a big store 45 minutes away. Santa Rosa de Copan is our friends and cash town. Our friends, the Wards live there and we time a visit with them with a stop at the ATM (none in Gracias) for cash, and a trip to 20 Menos for pantry items. This is the third world Fred Meyers. The entire store would fit into the veggie section of Freddy's in Battle Ground but still. It has shelves, options, and carts. If I have to stock up on beans, rice, cereal, soap or other things I like to do it there. I'm tired of picking bugs out of my beans and rice.

For most everything else my options these days are mercados. Open air or indoor. On delivery days or not. Busy times or more relaxed ones. Then there are my friends who delivery various veggies to the door, bless their hearts. A bit more pricey but fine for the time being.

"Thank you for the menu. I'll have - open, not, relaxed, and front door service."

Indoor market:

The 'puestos' are basically like a stall where people sell from their 'store front'. The indoor market has a ton of them. The fruit and veggie stands, the tortillas section, the cheese section, the dried goods section. There can be huge variety in price, items, quality and service. Then there are the blankets, tool supplies, clothes, shoes, and general everything else puestos. It sounds very romantic doesn't it? I avoid it at all costs.

Here's why. Imagine if you will the center aisle of a little church (church family are you with me on this??) Now - cram in every kid in the neighborhood; not just from the church mind you, I said the neighborhood. Add in the moms with their bags. Add in the dads with their backpacks. Add in the dogs (!). Yes, I said dogs (!). I won't even describe the dead rat we had to step over once... Now everyone start yelling - happy yelling, sad yelling, babies crying. Moms and Dads?? You yell too. Now do it in Spanish. Someone turn on a boom box full volume please. Now add in ONE white woman w/ bright red hair and a Mexican Spanish accent and you will discover something: THIS is why I don't like the indoor market.

My little brain has so much to take in that adding in all this chaos just sends my heart into defib and my coping skills to the levels of a two-year old. I leave there feeling like a scrambled egg. Romantic it is not.

For me; indoor market = blubbering 35 year old woman. Self talk goes something like this: "Breathe! Breathe!! Breathe!!! You're an adult woman you can go back in there and buy those tomatoes!" "Suck it up! YOU CAN DO IT!!" "More deep breaths - gag - what is that smell??? Okay, so don't breathe through your nose." " Now - what was the conversion?" Got it. "Which verb did they use?" Got it. WHY did they conjugate it that way??" DON'T CARE! "Why am I here in the first place??? Oh - wait. Food. Oh bother."

I admit it. In public. Over the internet people. I've cried over shopping for groceries.

Pride is a very ugly trait I have which I'm sure is why God is somehow using this to shape me into a more Christ-like state. Dang is it painful.

Back to options...

Open air market:

THIS is the one I drive (have my husband drive me) out of my way for. I don't care. It's worth it. There is still some of the pushing and shoving, it's all in Spanish, and I might pay a tad more but 'vale la pena'. Plus their boom box plays Spanish praise music. It helps me retain my sanity, my children can stay in the truck while I dicker for food, and Alan can park within a block radius.

After foraging for fruits and veggies here we walk to the carneceria for meats and cheese. Not to buy that 'fat pig' but some bagged chicken, chorizo, and maybe some beef if it's cheap.

What can we get here? Actually it's surprising to us the limited variety. You would think that in the tropics there would be an abundance of tropical fruits and veggies but honestly - no. Items are trucked in twice a week from the bigger cities. Each week the items are more or less the same but still healthy and seriously, God graces me with enough creativity to not become completely bored with preparing it.

The local list is as follows:

Green Bell Peppers

Beechas (the funny, hairy looking fruit I'm holding in one of the pictures -it's a lot like a grape, after you peel it of course)

**Some of these items are seasonal and we haven't yet been able to figure out the seasons for food around here. I'll let you know when the list shrinks. **

It's fairly amazing to me to think that I can buy 8 mangos for about 10 Lempira ($ .50 USD) and a pineapple for the same but then trying to buy an apple, yes AN apple - YIKES!! $. 60 USD EACH one. We do apples for special occasions now, which is funny coming from apple country. In fact probably why said apples are so incredibly expensive is because they DO come from apple country. The kids find it hilarious that their apples in Honduras have a Washington sticker on them.

Okay - so we've bought a weeks worth (if I was smart) of fruit and some meat to keep the men folk in the family happy and now what? We take it home and clean it. The remaining pictures in the stream are of the home side processing of the food. Most things are covered in various layers of dirt and grime so we wash/rinse first THEN sterilize. Everything goes through this process before it goes in the fridge that way I know that things are clean to grab and eat from there.

There must be something about the inside air at my house and I've learned that if I bring some fruit or veggie thing home and set it on my counter one of two things will happen.

ONE - it will be covered in ants by the next hour.
TWO - it will go bad within one day.

So - moving on...after wash/sterilize cycle we move on to peel, cut, chop, freeze, or refrigerate. This part can take up to or more than two hours. Why? I have no idea - I'm in a time warp apparently. I've tried doing it faster, smarter, yada, yada, yada, but it just takes that long. This is with me being a fairly efficient (type A) person. Each time I'm learning little tricks of the trade, so to speak, but it still is a process. However, afterwards we have a stocked fridge (BLESS THEIR HEARTS FOR THE GIFT), food ready to eat and share, and less mess for the general everyday prep. I can always tell when our 'stock' is getting low - my tupperware drawer gets full.

If I time it right I can make this workout last for one week. One week.

See the pictures here.

We are able to buy milk, eggs, and some other general dry goods in our neighborhoods at pulperias (in-home stores). It is easy. I hand my children cash and a list and off they go, bless their little hearts.

So that folks, is why my love of grocery shopping wanes with each visit.


** A note about the pictures - for future reference - do not ask 11 year old boy to take pictures of you. 1/2 turn out at 'interesting angles' and the other 1/2 are of him being .....e.l.e.v.e.n......but I left them in for grammas and his friends.

My husband, on the other hand, is fabulous. Alan came home to a wife that was willing to go grocery shopping instead of update the blog w/ Flickr. (This should tell you something...) He fixed it. He is just wonderful....


Jennifer said...

Question for you. I too have the problem of when I bring produce into my house, itis going bad within the hour - or so it seems. So everything you buy, you cut up and put in the fridge? I know when I would cut up and freeze the green peppers, they would become not so good. (great wording right? LOL) After they thawed, they would be watery and just yucky. Anyways, do you put everything in the fridge? Did I already ask you that? Ugh - I have new baby brain, so excuse my babbling. Does it last all week without going bad in the fridge? I am trying to figure out some things for when I go back (YAY only 38 more days) and ziplock bags and tupperware containers are on my list of things to buy and bring back. Any advice on making the veggies last longer would be appreciated.

Also - want to share some hints on how not to get bored with the same food, LOL. We eat a basically Honduran diet of beans, rice and tortillas. I also buy enough chicken, hamburger meat and tajo - you know the lump peices of meat for lack of a better explanation - so that we have chicken 10 times a month, hamburger 8 times a month and tajoo 4 times a month. But that still leaves alot of beans and rice and tortillas. I am at a loss of what to make.


Live Simply Love Strongly said...

I enjoyed reading this! I am impressed by your cleaning and cutting, that is quite the job! It was great to see all the pics. I felt like I went on a virtual trip with you to the market. LOL

Jennifer, if you click on link on my sidebar to the Simple-Green-Frugal Coop there's a few articles about how to blanch for freezing(also info on gardening, making stuff from scratch, and recipes). Some veggies (the ones with lots of water) do "not so good" in the freezer. I would store peppers and onions in fridge. I noticed you are interested in gardening(La Gringa's blog). I am trying it out this year, and will let you know how it goes. If I can do it, anyone can!

TexasHeather said...

Hi Faith! I can so relate. The market situation here in Brazil is not too different; some of your photos looked like they could have been taken at our markets.

Also curious to hear more about how you store your fruit & veggies. yep, the ant & "going bad" problem is universal, too. Would love details on what you cut up, what you store whole, what you freeze (& how), etc.


Lana Brubacher said...

Loved your update and pictures!

Lana Brubacher said...

I loved your update and pictures!