The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165215 Message #4004156
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
11-Aug-19 - 11:51 AM
Thread Name: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
Subject: RE: BS: Recipes - what are we eating?
Last week I bought a solitary mango from a local large chain grocery store (employee owned, and good prices, but not always the most knowledgeable about how to handle some produce). It is still on the counter waiting to ripen or rot; I suspect it was refrigerated in such a way to mess up the ripening process.
A few days later I was in a Middle Eastern grocery store (many of the employees barely speak English) that knows exactly how to handle all of it's produce, and I bought a case of mangoes of the typical size, large but not gigantic, and they're ripening beautifully and are sweet and juicy. These were a good price - the case of 9 was $6 and I shared them with a friend (who is Puerto Rican, grew up with his own mango trees, and knows exactly when they're perfectly ripe).
The same thing happens when I by large avocadoes at the Mexican grocery up the road from my house; again, it's an ethnic store where they barely speak English but they know how to handle the food they carry and you can be sure the aguacate are beautifully ripe and ready to use when they say so (there is a box stacked with the fruit on the counter next to each cash register). Those guacs are expensive, $5 each, but they are large and perfect. The same Puerto Rican friend also had avocado trees, so is a perfectionist about buying them.
Produce as a category isn't one-size-fits-all like many of the big-box grocery stores treat it. More and more I try to buy from the stores that know what they're doing with their fruit and veggies—and you can often learn from other customers. I was looking at plantains one day in the Fiesta grocery store near me (a chain that serves Mexican/Central American shoppers) and a tall black woman, from Jamaica, and I were talking about them. She reached out and took the green banana from my hand and set it aside, and handed me a different one. "This -look at the skin, those spots on the other one aren't a good sign." When they're green they're cooked like a potato (tostones), when they're ripe, they're baked and have a wonderful sweet banana flavor (a dessert, with butter and a little cinnamon sugar if you like), but if you get a bad one they just dry out and aren't much good for either use.
This isn't to say that no one who grew up with the typical US grocery-store environment knows how to handle produce, but there's a learning process that many of them seem to have missed, or the system of fruit and vegetable delivery and storage doesn't make possible.