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Exploring a Mexican Supermarket

Walmart, Mega, Chedraui… by now, we’ve visited quite a few supermarkets in Mexico, mostly (and officially) to get some supplies for Mark—diapers, wipes, food—but also because I am addicted to their bakeries.

All supermarkets have a huge bakery where you can buy loafs of bread (duh!) but also pastries. They are all displayed on the shelves, you just have to pick a tray and help yourself. They are cheap too, usually about 50 cents apiece.

There are dozens of pastries to choose from but most are fairly simple—we are not talking elaborate creamy cakes here (although you can get that too): sweet breads, sometime with a jam or cream filling, sometime dipped in chocolate or sugar. They aren’t too sweet or too buttery… they are just perfect for anyone who loves the texture of bread—like me. Like in Chinese bakeries, there are also savoury breads filled with mushrooms, tuna, etc.

Besides the panaderia, there is often a cafeteria where you can buy favourite local foods such as pieces of fried chicken, fried plantains, tamales, rice and beans, salads, fries, etc. Mexicans seem to like anything fried!

The vegetable section is quite extensive and includes tons of bananas from Chiapas or Tabasco, as well as mountains of avocados.

Mexicans must like soup: there is often an entire aisle dedicated to powder soup (the Maggi or Knorr kind). The meat and fish section is also pretty extensive, both displayed on ice or in coolers (and not pre-packaged like in most Canadian supermarkets).

They definitely have a sweet tooth: there are tons of cookies and cereal bars, although most don’t seem too fancy and revolve around chocolate chips or some kind of gooey fruity filling. Breakfast cereals are the sugary kind as well—most have “azucar” (sugar) in their name (at least, they are honest and don’t claim to the “healthy way” to start the day!).

The dairy section is well-stocked with cheese and yogurts. Cheese mostly revolves around the “easy to melt” kind (i.e. no “fancy” strong cheese like in France). Philadelphia cream cheese and The Laughing Cow are pretty popular. There are many kinds of yogurts in bottles to drink on-the-go: the main brands are Yoplait, Danone and LaLa. Flan is also very popular, as well as “dessert-flavoured” yogurts, such as “dulce de leche”, “apple pie”, etc.

Low-fat products are hard to spot, although nutritional information is available on every products, like in Canada (is it by law? I’m not sure). Pastries do have a sticker underneath that says “over 275 calories per 100 grams”, which I found pretty funny.

When it comes to drinks, Coke (the regular kind) is definitely a winner, and beer seems to come second. There is also Sprite and Pepsi, as well as various carbonated fruit juices. And beer, of course.

The only downside of Mexican market is the slow check-out time. It invariably takes at least twenty minutes to pay for your grocery. Line-ups are long and cashiers are pretty slow and few cash registers are opened, even during rush hour—I’m not sure why.

You can see the full set of Estación México on Flickr.

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