Saturday, May 10, 2008

The problem with tunas

The problem with tunas, and really any other fresh food sold here in Chile is that you have to buy a motherlode of it. Everything is packaged or grouped or sold in vast quantities, which always presents a problem at the fresh market, most of all for those of us who live alone. Want to buy a tomato? Laughable! What about a single lemon?! Preposterous! Occasionally you can get someone to charge you for one avocado if you are already buying a several-kilo bag of onions, for example. But the problem is that most of the time, the people who sell onions don't sell anything else. People are kind of specialists at the weekly feria (farmer's market).

I was in the central valley town of Til Til a couple of weeks ago, and a friend and I decided to see what was on offer at the local-foods market. And this is how I came to be the proud owner of a 3.5 kilo (more than 7 pounds) of tunas, or as you know them, prickly pear cactus fruit. I love them, I do. Slimy, a mix of banana-cucumber-honeydew in flavor, seedarific. A real delight. But I challenge any of you to manage to get through seven pounds of your favorite fruit in a timely manner. The good news is that they keep relatively well. I have served a few to guests, and a couple have (thankfully!) softened and rotted, so I could guiltlessly and gingerly (they have thorns) toss them in the trash.

The other complicating factor of the tunas is that I'm afraid to buy any other fruit until I finish this pile. And by the time I finish them, they may have just gone out of season. And you know? I'm not sure I will mind.

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