Saturday, January 15, 2011

Step away from the candy

You remember these little orange-segment shaped candies from when you were kids, right? The little sugar-coated devils are hugely addictive. I bought a bag today on my market adventure. Carl got his second shot of anti-inflammatory, then I let him rest while I went out for a while.

First I went for a short walk on the beach. It's not as nice as my beach at home at all, at all. It's really smoggy here as well.

I took a cab for 80 pesos down to the central market, hoping to find a molcajete, which is a big stone bowl with feet used for grinding things, and you can bake in it as well.

Thye have a great fish market there, doesn't smell in the least fishy, and they're selling these wonderful cuts of marlin that look like lean red beef.

No mocaljetes at the market, so I thought I'd take a bus home. While I was waiting, I gave it one last try and I asked a vendor in Spanish if he knew where I could buy one. He said, go to the end of the block, turn right, take the next left and go four blocks... then he lost me, but I got the impression that what I was looking for would be there.

Sure enough, there was a restaurant supply store right there. But they didn't have any. Again I asked if they knew where I could find one. This is a big city, and people are less friendly than at home, but she very quickly told me... something, and gestured with her chin. So I walked that way, and in a block I came across another kitchen supply store. And there I finally found my molcajete!

After trudging another eight blocks carrying the ten pound thing, then buying some oranges and those evil candies, and waiting for a bus for another 20 minutes, I thought I'd grab a cab and head home with my goodies.

If you want to know more about mocaljetes, here it is: Molcajetes are used to crush and grind spices, and prepare salsas, and guacamole. The rough surface of the basalt stone creates a superb grinding surface that maintains itself over time as tiny bubbles in the basalt are ground down, replenishing the textured surface. As the porous basalt is impossible to fully clean and sanitize, molcajetes are known to "season" (much like cast iron skillets), carrying over flavors from one preparation to another. Salsas and guacamole prepared in molcajetes are known to have a distinctive texture, and some also carry a subtle difference in flavor, from those prepared in blenders. Molcajetes can also be used as a cooking tool, where it is heated to a high temperature using an open fire or hot coals, and then used to heat its food contents. Although true molcajetes are made of basalt, imitations are sometimes made of a mixture of pressed concrete and volcanic rock particles.

Molcajetes are also used as serving dishes in restaurants and homes. While recipes are usually not stewed or otherwise cooked in them, the molcajete stays hot for an extremely long time, and it is not unusual for a dish to still be bubbling a half hour after serving.

Tomorrow we're off to San Blas to meet some friends of friends and deliver three bins of their stuff that we carted down here for them . Tonight hockey at the Twisted Mama, the Canadian bar that has a Canadian satellite feed.


  1. What an interesting day you had and how brave you are travelling around a city that you do not know. With my limited Spanish I would have been lost, lost, lost. Just love your blog and look forward to it every day.


  2. Sounds like a fun day. Well, for you - for Carl, maybe not so much!

  3. Thanks, Shirl, I always say it's not bravery if it doesn't scare you, I guess we've just travelled enough that I'm comfortable with it. Yeah, Cheryl, poor Carl is living on the internet these days.