Yesterday, we drove a couple of miles to one of the Hispanic markets (Supermercado El Rancho) where we sometimes buy fruits and vegetables and where I buy gallon cans of pickled jalapeños (jalapeños en escabeche). The prices there are generally lower on certain items, especially citrus fruits and fresh peppers, and the variety of vegetables is almost always greater than at the other markets we frequent, such as Kroger, Tom Thumb, and Sprouts. The market is part of a small Texas chain but the size of the store and the variety of products it carries suggests that a much bigger corporate beast own it; I don’t know whether that’s true, but it’s obviously not a mom and pop shop.
Our visit yesterday was for the express purpose of buying some Serrano peppers, which I’ll use in the tuna ceviche I’m making for dinner tonight. Before leaving for the store, though, we decided to take advantage of the trip and try the lunch line there.
The store has a serving-line-style restaurant that serves all sorts of Mexican food; we opted for tacos. A large area with picnic tables provides seating for people who go through the food line. I’d guess there’s seating for at least 60, maybe more, in that area.
I opted to try three different tacos: pastor, lengua, and carnitas. My wife went for lengua and barbacoa. All of them, nicely filled in warm soft corn tortillas, were excellent and reasonably priced at $1.49 each. A self-serve condiment bar offers pickled jalapeños, chopped onions, cilantro, red and green salsas, and a few other odds and ends.
After lunch, we wandered through the fruits and vegetables, picking up fresh serranos, a few fresh jalapeños, a couple of bunches of cilantro, and some tomatillos, some of which I used to make a soup-salsa snack yesterday afternoon and some of which go into the ceviche for tonight.
As we wandered, something in the fruits section caught our eye. From a distance, it looked like a tray of large red and green flowers, but up close it became obvious they were some sort of fruits, red with green “leaves” growing from them. Sitting in the middle was half of one of the fruits, covered in plastic wrap, revealing its dense, dark red flesh, speckled with what looked like tiny black seeds. There were no signs indicating what the thing was, so we asked a woman who was restocking some other fruits. I couldn’t understand the name she gave it, but understood when she asked if we wanted to taste it; yes, of course! She unwrapped the half-fruit, took it to a nearby counter where another woman was cutting and packaging some other fruits, and sliced off two pieces of the flesh. It was sweet and delicious; and it instantly stained our fingers pink.
After we got home, I looked online and found it immediately (click on the image above to go to the site where I found the photo); it’s pitaya, also called dragon fruit, the fruit of a type of cactus. It’s native to Mexico and South America and is now grown widely throughout Asia, as well.
So, there you have it; I learned something yesterday. I like it when that happens.