For our Christmas Eve dinner Cynthia and I decided to have Pork as the entree to accompany her cornbread dressing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. A weekend walk we often enjoy along the Yanuncay river takes us right by a local mercado, and there's no better pork to be found than from the whole pigs at food stands in all of these emporiums. Here's a pic from our look/see trip to Cuenca years ago.
Off we went yesterday on a glorious sunny morning to combine some exercise with that one purchase. I wore my backpack just in case we spotted some lovely fruits and vegetables to buy so our walk wouldn't be burdened toting extra bags.
Upon our arrival at the already bustling mercado we headed straight to the section featuring pork (other areas serve seafood and chicken). Three vendors had their pigs on display with the ladies giving out samples of their wares.
Insider tip: accept their offer. The first sample was tough and incredibly salty, while the one chosen was succulent and delicious. We bought a pound and a half, and couldn't resist the potato patties fried in pork fat. Hey, it's a special occasion!
We roamed through the market seeing who had what and which produce looked the freshest. Most stands have the same stuff, but it turns out our favorite lady was the only one in the entire place with green beans. Another tip: develop relationships with these folks. We ended up buying the beans from her plus all these strawberries, pears, tomatoes, and onions. She charged us $4.50. Wow.
OK, we're done! Well-----
There's a Columbian grocery adjacent to the mercado so we might as well stop in there too while in the neighborhood. Six dollars later add walnuts, organic spring onions, ginger, cherries, and a papaya (38 cents? What??) to the backpack.
On the walk home why not visit the liquor store to check out their wine selection? Nothing special so we actually leave without buying anything. Further on we notice that a big new deli under construction for some time is now open. Let's go see what it looks like!
They have an excellent meat selection and lots of other goodies but somehow we again resist temptation, making a mental note to come back soon. Not so with the bakery we next encounter. How can you turn down fresh-from-the-oven croissants and ciabatta for a whopping $1.40?
We've been out much longer than anticipated and it's close to lunchtime, so I suggest heading over to our local "sandwich guy" to pick up a couple of hand-carved turkey sandwiches. Add a little mayo and lettuce and these are absolutely delicious. The price is right too--$2.50 each.
By now the single purchase we set out to make has mushroomed into such an extravaganza that my backpack is full and both of us are carrying extra bounty. Here's everything that order of pork became:
Final thought. None of this grand adventure would have happened if we had initially set out in a car. Drive to the mercado--buy the pork--come home. Instead we had so much fun wandering around on a beautiful day discovering happy surprises along the way.