Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scrambled Eggs

One street
Todo es diferente aqui.  

The streets are bumpy pathways (charmingly called cobblestones) where cars and pedestrians weave in and out in a dance that would be a US lawyer's dream come true … although I've yet to see bodily injury or a fender bent. 

Walking down one of these paths is like playing peek-a-boo … a door opens and a tienda appears … it could be a panderia displaying breads and pastries - be sure to use the trays and tongs to select the mysterious, unlabeled choices.  Or it could be a "grocery" store about the size of one of your closets with room for one, maybe two, customers at a time if the second customer is small … or a large gallery of copper pots and kitchen delights … or the flowering green-and-well-manicured courtyard of an obviously well-to-do homeowner. 
View through one open door

Life is more visible here, concentrated, amalgamated, syncopated: rich and poor. elegant and common. flowers and dog poop. the old ones and the babies. the wounded and the athletes. On one of my walks today I passed a pick-up truck outside a meat market. The bed of the truck was filled … completely filled … with offal: guts, fat, blood and bone, covered with buzzing flies. Inside the meat market was probably antiseptic. I didn't look.

A "safe" place - I'm a sucker for
brightly colored table cloths
Food has been an issue. There are hundreds of places to eat in the historic district of San Miguel … from street vendors, to food carts, to buffets to up-scale restaurants. However, there's no user's manual. I'm not opposed to eating off the streets but I don't know what to ask for … or what I'd get if I did. I've wound up in a couple of mid-level, safe-looking places and the food has been satisfactory. Breakfast for the past several days has been a peanut butter and banana sandwich that I made at home. 

Finally, today I decided I was going to have lunch at the Mercado where there are a dozen or so kiosks selling food that looked good and smelled delicious. I circled the kiosks once trying to find "the one." Circled again and realized menus were missing or pretty non-informative. Finally, I stood at one kiosk watching a woman fix a torta for a guy. When she was done, I said, "Me, too" and wound up with a pretty good chicken sandwich even if it was fried.

Window: Old and New
After that I decided what I really wanted was vegetables … and eggs … all scrambled together with cheese.  Sounds easy, no? First, I had to find the eggs.  Not all the small tiendas have eggs and when I did find the right tienda, the eggs didn't come in nice neat, cardboard cartons.  They're all stacked on top of each other.  When I asked for a dozen, they were put in a plastic bag and handed to me. (All but one got home safely.)

Buying the veggies was easy … the Mercado has the most amazing displays of fruits and vegetables … I don't know who buys them because I've never seen anyone else buying but the displays are gorgeous. Of course, then I realized I needed butter which meant a different tienda. I'm sure it's just me, but it seems like one could spend an awful lot of time just meeting basic needs here. 

I'll talk about money mas tarde.  It should be easy but when everything is different, even common things become baffling ... at least that's how it seems at this point.

Maybe all of this just makes it easier to strip away the non-essential stuff and truly appreciate the beauty of "sencilla" (simple) ... like scrambled eggs even when getting all the ingredients didn't seem so simple. My bonus is that I have a large cup of pomegranate seeds for dessert.  Life is good.


  1. Sounds wonderful, except for the truck filled with offal. Ewww
    I miss those pananderias with the wonderful sweet bread!

  2. Joyce, thanks for inviting us along on your adventure. I almost feel transported to the sights and smells of the market - and the wondering and confusion you're experiencing are palpable.