Sunday, November 1, 2009

De compras con las chauchas! Coin-fueled fresh market foray in Santiago!

Sunday. Day of relaxation, of rest, of work (what? just me?), of move it or lose it re: feria visits. My best closest fresh market is on Sundays, down in Barrio Yungay. For a list of the ferias in the city by comuna (district/neighborhood), don't miss this handy website put out by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture. Unlike estoeschile, they don't even have an English translation, so you won't waste a bunch of your time clutching your sides at the slips of word. Seriously, this is so. unbelievably. helpful. You always see the freshmarket in passing, on a day when you just can't stop, don't have time, etc. Now on any given day if I've got a little freshies-hankering, I can figure out where to go to get my fix.

So today is Sunday, and my feria, which I've just learned is called Esperanza, which means hope (but is also the name of the street it runs on) was on. And so off I went, canvas bags on handlebars, to go get some grub.

I like to play a little game I like to call chauchitas. Chaucha is a Chilean (and other Spanish) word for coins that appeared to be silver but in fact where nickel. In Chile we use it to mean coins in general. If you take out a handful of change, people will say "Andas con puras chauchitas!" which means something of the equivalent of, dumped out your piggy bank today? And I respond, "y, que tiene?" which means something like "And your point is?" The goal today was to bring my pocket full of chauchitas to the feria, and leave heavily laden with goods.

Lucky for me, we have some very valuable coins in Chile (500 peso coins are worth almost a dollar), and I have a little wooden jar (is that possible?) that I keep them in. I left the house with 3,770 ($7.10 by today's rates, thank you currency converter. And I went a-hunting.

And here's the spoils, minus a bag of "ensalada de penca" which sounds hiliarious in Chilean Spanish because penca means kind of boring or sucky. But penca is also a leggy thistle plant which people strip the outer part of and chop up and serve with lemon. It's delicious, and tastes somewhere between artichoke stems and celery, but I forgot to put it in the pic, and it just looks like a chopped up bag of green stems anyway.

Behold!

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Here's the haul:

stirfry mix, 1,000 pesos $1.88 (a little overpriced, but saves much chopping)
strawberries, 1 kilo 600 pesos $1.13
asparagus, .5 kilo 350 pesos $.66
lemons 1 kilo 150 pesos $.28
fava beans 1 bag, 500 pesos $.94
penca 1 bag, 200 pesos $.38
peas, .5 kilo, 350 pesos $.66
cherimoya 1, 600 pesos $1.13

total: 3750 (20 pesos remaining!) or just over US $7.00. That's enough for about 1.3 downtown lunchtime specials, or 3 cortados (tiny little lattés) at a reasonably-priced café, or almost 9 trips on the metro.

Or you could also buy 63% of one of these crazily overpriced out-of-season melons I spied at the supermarket the other day.

Is this in your budget? Honeydew for a tenner (or more!)

Just a reminder to a) buy locally b) purchase what's in season and c) support your local small businesses.

The cherimoya was really the whole reason I went to the feria to begin with. This custardy starchy fruit is one of the harbingers of spring, and like nísperos (loquats), they're something you can only get in season, and to me aren't worth eating in any form other than fresh. Yesterday I saw two different people eating cherimoya, and my antojo (craving) was born. And the guy who sold it to me called me lola which means "young thing" more or less. It also is the name of Emily's dog, but I have to trust that this casero (feria guy) doesn't know that, and that we don't look that much alike. People claim the etymology is related to Nabakov's Lolita. Can anyone substantiate? Margaret perhaps?

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And I'm nearing 40, which this photo can substantiate. Young? Sure, why not? Pass the fruit and veggies, and the complimentary (if untrue) piropos. Enjoy!

13 comments:

Lucie said...

Oh how I miss the fresh farmer's markets of Chile where you can buy enough fruit and veggies to last you a week for about 10 dollars or less!!! I can't wait to go back and splurge at the markets!

lydia said...

Hah, no offense (rather, the opposite) but that photo in no way backs up ´nearing 40´.

What a neat website! In valpo they never really vary so I personally don;t need it, but we do go to the ferias all the time. We always say we wont buy anything and then come home with more stuff than we can carry though, so I;m trying to cut back haha.

6,000 for a melon is RIDICULOUS! they;re like 200 pesos in season by my house

Margaret said...

What a haul! (Yum!) I really need to get into the feria habit! I love everything about them--the colors, the smells, the sounds--and the delicious take-home results!
2 comments... 1, since you asked, yes, I believe lola probably comes from Lolita, although I can't seem to substantiate that.
2 is that your link to estoeschile is the wrong one... Not sure what that one is, but the "official" site is www.estoeschile.cl (not .com) and its English counterpart www.thisischile.cl, which has done an amazing job of cleaning up its act and now has a very good level of English.

Margaret said...

PS- and even though I have never seen Emily's dog, I am quite sure you look nothing alike!
;-)

Sara said...

Your fruits and veggies are so artfully arranged. Lovely and very nutritious looking.

Annje said...

Lovely eyes! And you don't look nearing 40... where are your crow's feet girl??? Man, for 7 bucks, I'd be lucky to get the strawberries and the asparagos. I love all the color.

I am with Margaret, thinking that the Lola comment had nothing to do with the pooch. Though, now poor lil Lola will think we are dissing her.

Eileen said...

Lucie, thanks for dropping by! Nice to see you.

Lydia and Annje, I can assure you that with poor lighting, a little bit of makeup, a slightly out of focus picture and no facial expression, you too will look smashing and line-free, regardless of your age. I also highly recommend putting on some winter weight, and then not taking it off again. Instant youth!

Margaret, it's weird, that other website is also up and running, but not by the Chilean gov't I guess! Thanks for substantiating Lola, for agreeing I probably don't look like Emily's pooch (who I've now written about twice on this blog), and reminding us that the English on estoeschile is shmabulous now.

Sara, thanks! I've taken so many pics of my fruit and veg, I wanted it to look different.

And if you're wondering, half of the cherimoya and half (or more) of the stirfry and about a third of the penca are gone, along with two strawberries. I see strawberries and cherimoya and yogurt for breakfast tomorrow and stirfry with lunch and asparagus and a giant tomato salad with dinner.

LOVE the fresh fruit and veggies in Chile. A delight! Also love getting called Lola. It's hiliarious. Then the next guy called me Señora. That was fun.

Mandi said...

yummm...Let's not even talk about the fact that I went through two kilos (count 'em: uno. dos.) of strawberries in a week! They're like crack, except they come packed with vitamin C, are legal the world over and can be made into some pretty tasty jam. I live 10 minutes from la vega so I usually head home on weekends hunched over with a backpack filled with a kilo of everything. What'll I do when I get back to the states and get charged 2 bucks for a palta again?

Fly Girl said...

What a score! Those veggies make me want to make a salad now. There's nothing I enjoy more than strolling through farmer's market and discovering fruits and veggies that I've never seen. I just discovered that my own farmer's market is still open, when I thought it closed at the end of September. Of course, we were driving by and couldn't stop.

Taryn said...

I've wondered for a while if Feria prices differ by comuna, but never had the energy to figure it out. Having been to the feria on Las Torres on Saturday, I now have the answer. Yes, they do, but not substantially enough to make a difference.

Emily said...

Lola says thank you for her now recurring guest starring role on your blog. Margaret, there are photos of her on my blog if you're so inclined...she is QUITE adorable, but I admit to some bias.

And yay fresh things! Now that summer's coming I'm getting the urge to really make time to go to la vega, it's just such a happy place with all the colors and smells and tastes that summer brings.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just want to point out that "penca" may also be used by some people as a colloquialism for the male reproductive system, so you better be careful while using it. If some guy admits that he likes the "ensalada de penca" he will get a lot of gay-related jokes from his friends.
I am so ashamed of commenting this, that I will hide my identity for now. Hope my engrish has been understandable, though. ;)

lydia said...

I learned that one the hard way because, having no idea, I asked my suegro what it meant.

Everybody else overheard the conversation and nearly died laughing.