06 May 2011

Adventures in Veggie Shopping

Much like going to the farmers' market in San Francisco or Dupont Circle to check out the fresh produce before heading out to the grocery store, here I have to go to a fruit stand and a vegetable stand to find the best produce before I take my chances on the grocery store produce aisle.

Finding the best "Western" produce is a competitive sport. I only just discovered the secret of the produce stand a few weeks ago. I usually send my driver out for groceries or make one stop at the grocery store and settle for what's there. But now that it's a little easier to shop with Muffin in tow, I love our weekly trek to Star Fruit and Tarkari Vegetables. The veggie ladies give Muffin carrots to play with. Star Fruit is a tiny, jam-packed shop and Muffin pokes and grabs at any fruit or customers within range. (And because people love babies so much here, they don't mind a little grabbing hand from the whitest baby they've ever seen.)

The best thing about Tarkari -- they almost always have green leaf lettuce. At most stores you can only get iceberg lettuce, which I detest. But Tarkari has green leaf lettuce and -- get this -- with a little washing it's perfectly safe to eat! We can have salad again! The first day I discovered the lettuce, there was an Australian woman in the shop who told me to take what I wanted because she was going to buy all of it. Competitive lettuce shopping indeed. When I found fresh basil after weeks of not seeing it, I was the one who bought the whole stock (and then I had my housekeeper make about a gallon of pesto). And I'm sorry other expats, but I also cleaned out the thyme and rosemary at qmart a couple weeks ago.

The prices at the grocery store aren't prohibitive for most expats, like they might be for local shoppers. It's certainly more convenient for one-stop shopping. But what I like about the smaller stands is that the fruits and veggies are local. They are fresh. They are ripe. They may have traveled from another state in India, but few things came on a plane from another country.

You do need to wash everything, but that's one of the benefits of having a housekeeper. She washes and cuts everything up, which makes it much more likely that we'll actually eat all the fruits and vegetables that I buy.

Muffin's been enjoying the local watermelon lately.

Cross-posted at What I Eat.

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