From Cooking Matters, Adult Class Cookbook
Geeze Louise, April flew by. As in, woah, what happened, is it summer already??? I think I was disoriented by the fact that winter never really came around this year, March was substantially warmer than April, and it’s all adding up to confusion and time moving way too fast. But I was determined to keep my promise to try a new grocery vendor each month, despite hell or high water. And I’m pretty sure we encountered both this week as the perfect storm of some last minute oral surgery (root canal gone awry), a raging cold, final exams for my grad school program and a never ending stream of work for John hit us all at once. Lucky for us we had an easy vendor idea that we’d been saving for a rainy day.
We happen to live right next to Chicago’s biggest Puerto Rican neighborhood, Humbold Park, and with that comes a plethora of hispanic produce markets and grocery stores that for some reason we’ve never set food in. So for this month’s shopping experiment we went to Cermak Produce, a small family-owned grocery store less than a mile away from our house. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot we knew this wasn’t going to be our typical shopping experience. There were churro and tamale stands set up outside the store and festive music was floating out of the entrance way. We stepped inside and noticed immediately that everything was in Spanish. So much for those 6 years of German. No schnitzel in this joint. But as we wandered into the immaculate produce section our fears dissipated. Who cares if they call them lima, they’re 10 for a $1 and that makes them the cheapest limes I’ve ever bought! In fact, all of their produce was outrageously cheap, of great quality, and displayed in beautiful, widely spaced wooden bins. They had everything we’re used to, plus SO much more. We will be back for yuca and cactus soon for sure!
A stroll through the aisles revealed hot sauces, tortillas and seasonings we could only dream of at a big box grocery store. It was as if that single “ethnic” aisle at Jewel had exploded into an entire store. The cheese section was teeming with cremas and melting cheeses I’d never seen before, and the butcher counter had every variety and part of an animal you can think of. Seriously, this was foodie heaven.
We came away with $40 of groceries that went on to become this salsa, a queso fundido appetizer, soup that will last us all week and a number of one-off impulse buys that we couldn’t bear to pass up. A few too many trips to Whole Foods have taught us that this was a steal, and I know we’ll be heading to Humbolt Park for our groceries much more often in the future!
- 2 mangos, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 small cucumber, seeds removed, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 1 avocado, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 green onions, green parts only, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- cayenne pepper, to taste
- cilantro, to taste
- Combine all ingredients.
- Serve. Keeps fine in the fridge for a day or two, with the exception of the avocado, so consider adding that right before serving.
Makes about 3 cups.