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.
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.
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?
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!