Sunday, February 6, 2011

From Mexico to the Middle East in the Bend of a Strip Mall

Our little shopping safari in Clearwater, FL, on Highway 19. We actually didn't find anything at La Reina de Mexico, though there were interesting things to see inside. With a name like The Queen of Mexico, it seemed promising. The picture is of Our Lady of Guadalupe, something of a mix between a Catholic saint and an Aztec goddess.

I'd heard of Santa Muerte, Saint Death, a recently-developed cult in Mexico. There was no such thing during my days of haunting botánicas way back when, so it was interesting to encounter it here.

Yes, that's a Bratz piñata. There was also a Power Rangers one.

Very interesting. St. Lazarus, Catholic patron of the poor and sick, Lucky Prophet Latin Buddha, a typical hoodoo mix of whatever's at hand, Eleggua, a Yoruba diety imported from Africa through the slave trade, and Santa Muerte, newborn sacred figure from a land of drug wars, all getting along on the same shelf. Small world!

At a 90° angle to the Mexican grocery stands a Middle Eastern one. Here's where we did some shopping.

Our haul. It's hard to say no to a big, cheap jug of extra-virgin olive oil.

The falafel mix suffered from the same difficulty that so many do: The amount of water called for in the directions was absurdly off. It's generally either too much or too little. Blindly following, I poured in far too much, which is harder to correct. When will I learn to use my own judgment when making these mixes?

I did make good stuffed grape leaves, but that's to be expected, since I grew up helping my Greek mother make them. And the halvah? Another treat I grew up with. A bit dry, but.... mmmm...

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