Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Tostaduría

A tostaduría, which I always translate as a "dry goods shop" is the kind of store I haven't seen in the United States in years, or maybe ever. It sort of resembles the bulk section at your local wholefoodsy place, the one with the bags and the write-on-able tags where you're supposed to write the code of the teff or quinoa or amaranth you just whooshed into the bag, tie it off and toss it in your cart to buy later along with the 100% organic free range frozen pizza you just have to have.

This being Chile, of course the tostaduría is not self-serve. That would cheat a human out of a job, and we can't have any humans being cheated out of jobs. Seriously. People need jobs, and what's it to you if you have to stand on line three times before you walk out of the store with your purchase? My personal favorite tostaduría is a very traditional one, where they still toast their own harina tostada (lit: toasted flour, it's whole wheat, toasted, then ground, and used to make a hot breakfast cereal not unlike cream of wheat, and it's also sprinkled on watermelon to turn something healthy and light into a starch bomb). The store is narrow and crowded, with interior show windows with bowls of the available goods, which include everything from dried fruit to coffee to hempseeds (for birdseed, natch), to blueing for the laundry.

So I popped over to Tostaduría Puerto Rico (no sign, but that is the name) yesterday to stock up on some provisions. The hustle and bustle of the store plus the very cheap prices jostle you into buying more than you'd planned. To wit:

I bought 1.5 kilos of dates (someone has a sweet tooth, and it's not me), .5 kilos of raisins, .25 of walnuts, a kilo of peanuts and small coffee filters. For about 22 dollars. That's cheap even by Chilean standards. And now I have enough calories stockpiled in my house to survive the Armageddon. Or at least the next month.

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