Shopping at the mercado: What’s not to like?

Jun 14, 2018

Busy at the market.

I do most of my shopping at Mercado 10 de Agosto on Calle Larga, and what’s not to like?

The moment I step into the market I am bombarded with voices echoing off the rafters, children playing games of tag, and shoppers busy poking, and examining all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables for their dinner table.

Most vendors will call out a brisk, “Buenos tardes,” and when you step closer, they are happy to offer whatever you are looking for, and a lot more. More than a couple times, I have been coaxed into buying another zucchini, or more broccoli, simply because the seller looks at me with grandma’s eyes reading, “You do need to eat more vegetables, Sylvester. And, by the way, losing a little weight won’t harm you, either.”

“Yes, of course. I’m so glad you noticed.”

Lunch at the mercado with all the fixins’

Well, what better way to get the sour taste of humiliation out of your mouth than to tuck into some delicious fried chicken, lentils and rice prepared by the folks running stall number 601, upstairs.

Understandably, some folks are reluctant to dine in the bustling bird’s nest of table upon table of people calling out their orders as if starvation was sitting beside them. Everyone is chatting away with everyone else; everyone is anxious for alumerzo.

It is evident that a few stalls could use a thorough steam cleaning, but those very few places are of no concern to me. I don’t eat there. I enjoy the pure pleasure of having a tasty lunch in the company of many others fueling up between morning and afternoon chores and enjoying the comfort of strangers crowding around #601, calling out their orders and bubbling away with an ebullience that feeds the spirit as well.

Sylvester Grahame served as a consultant to the U.S. food industry and is credited with introducing a number of additives to packaged food products that enhanced flavor and extended shelf life. In a second career in the banking industry, he and a team of specialists tested security systems and procedures at small-town and suburban banks in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Following his release from prison in February, he relocated to Cuenca.

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