I read a lot of websites and I get a lot of articles from around the Costa Maya area to try to keep up with what is going on in Mahahual and Costa Maya. I came across this article below from the Mayan Beach Garden monthly newsletter, and I thought I would share today.
This is a good article about everyday food shopping in Mahahual. What is good about this article , it gives a female perspective on how to shop and buy things at local grocery stores and tiendas.
I would could never have written an article like this, or even thought of this subject. I tend to look at things through a man’s eyes. I just go into a store and just grab what I need, and have never thought about some of the content in this article.
So after I read this article, I got to thinking that there are a lot of ladies and wives who read this blog and are thinking about living or retiring in the future, and would find this information helpful.
So I hope you find this article helpful, it is a kind of how-to-guide on how to shop locally.
EDITORIAL- LEARNING TO LOVE THE MINI SUPER
HI COSTA MAYA NEIGHBORS
It is no secret — shopping in a town like Mahahual can be a challenge. There are no large grocery stores with beautiful produce and all the things you need in one place (such as a Chedraui’s). The nearest Chedraui’s is 90 km away. Most visitors to Mahahual have no idea that they can get most of the things they need in a mini-super, which at first glance, only appear to have chips and soda coolers full of drinks.
But all little towns in Mexico have little mini-supers and the average Mexican manages just fine shopping there. However, If one is not accustomed to buying their groceries in mini-supers, one might think there isn’t anything they could possibly cook with there. However, those who like an adventure, will find the challenge of shopping in a mini-super to be fun when they are empowered with the help of a few tips (which in the end all come down to Rule #1):
Rule #1 – think like a Mexican, if you want something, ASK FOR IT
The good stuff is seldom where you can see it
No one is going to say “can I help you” unless they know that you are big spender (Most of them know I own Mayan Beach Garden restaurant and they sometimes ask me if I want help, but don’t think they are rude if they don’t ask you), ASK FOR IT
They all carry more or less the same items
Few of the vendors speak English. Learn as many food words in Spanish as possible or bring a translator on your smart phone so you can ASK FOR IT.
Ask for anything you can’t find (hence the need to learn the words for foods). In a mini-super, you would normally need to ask for Avocados (Aguacates) . They may not be out in one of the bins.
Don’t feel afraid to rummage through coolers piled with unidentifiable gray plastic bags and some kind of herb (usually cilantro) rolled in paper Maseca bags. Good things are hiding in there like mushrooms, red bell peppers, poblano chilies, carrots and spinach.
The secret to buying Cilantro out of one of the rolls of brown paper is to either take the rolled up cilantro to the counter, or pull a handful of it out of the paper bag.
Don’t assume that a store only has poor looking produce. Simply ask “Hay algo mejor?” (is there anything better?) and point to the bad produce. 75% of the time it works – they disappear into a back room and show up with beautiful produce.
Don’t offend the store owner by going into the back room without asking. That would be rude. He would much rather that you ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
Because most of the stores are family owned and operated, you seldom receive a “NO HAY” (we don’t have it), unless they really don’t have it. But it never hurts to ask if they are sure. “La Verdad” (the truth?). Sometimes they go and check.
Always be nice. If you are rude, they will ignore your request. They hate a mad foreigner (we must remember that we are foreigners).
On the Yucatan peninsula stores are often owned by Mayan families and they don’t really like to shake your hand and they certainly don’t like to look you in the eye. If they look away when you say “Buenas Dias” they are just being polite in their culture. It isn’t being unfriendly either.
If you see a freezer chest in the store, open it. If not sometimes there is a freezer in the back with frozen meats. Ask for something “out there” and you might be surprised.
Most mini-supers carry fresher eggs than the super markets and you can buy just one egg if you want.
Enjoy the experience. You may even gain a new friend in the store owner, especially if you frequent that mini-super.
Your Costa Maya Neighbor,
Marcia Bales. . .writing this from Placer and Mayan Beach Garden Inn – 20 km north of Mahahual.
If you like this article and want to read more, you can go to, http://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/CostaMaya_Mahahual_Newsletter
I myself, because of my job and where I live, I eat out a lot, because it is almost as cheap to eat out in Mahahual for a bachelor as it is to cook, and it tends to be pretty good. I have several Mexican ladies around the village who cook for me, and it usually costs me around 40 or 50 pesos. I tend to shop at the local stores for my Coke Zero, cereal milk, water. snacks, and that is about it. So I would never have thought up the content I shared today.
All I know about shopping at the local grocery stores in Mahahual is, the people are friendly, they are patient if you don’t speak Spanish well, they are out of toilet paper a lot, (that is something I have been trying to figure out for 3 years, where is all this toilet paper going?), and they take US dollars as well as pesos.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina