Monday, May 28, 2012

Tortilla Shopping & A Lesson in the Metric System

How many gramos?

House sitting in a foreign country has a variety of challenges. Not least among them is shopping for groceries.  We have been in Merida, Mexico for two weeks now and have been trying out the different local markets, mostly buying fruits and vegetables which only keep a couple of days in this climate.  These markets are not traditional stores as we think of them, but groups of vendors in an open air setting, mixed in with little stands selling cooked foods, flowers, meat and poultry, and tortillas. 

Tortillas, one of the typical Mexican staple foods that we enjoyed in the US are purchased daily here, fresh and so hot you can’t hold them in your hand.  In the US we bought them off the supermarket shelf in a plastic bag by the dozen.  In Mexico, things are sold by the kilogram which is 2.2 lbs.  Can you imagine how many tortillas there are in 2.2 pounds?  Well, we found out.  It’s a lot. More than we could eat in a week, maybe even two weeks.
Merida Mexico tortilla making maching in operation
Making tortillas

In our defense, we are from the United States.  You know, the country that refused to switch to the metric system that the rest of the world uses?  So we’re often confused, quickly trying to convert ounces and pounds, to grams and kilograms. And, although we are learning Spanish, we easily get flustered when we’re actually called upon to speak it, so we tend to nod a lot and make silly hand motions trying to indicate things like quantity.  So that’s how we ended up with a 12” stack of tortillas. (Okay, it was a 30 centimeter stack of tortillas!)

The next time we went to the market we kept an eye on the locals, listened to what they ordered, and learned from them.  "Doscientos gramos tortillas por favor" (200 grams) and we were on our way, feeling quite proud, with a little over a dozen, fresh off the griddle, mouthwatering tortillas.  

Now, if we could just figure out what to do with those 3 kilos of peanuts….