Vendors Part 1 – Gonzalo: Veggies and Fruits At My Gate

Everyday at around noon Gonzalo (on the right in the photo below) and his brother Christian come by the house with their cart filled with great fresh produce.

IMG_2963These guys are great! Gonzalo has four boys with the last just starting preschool a few weeks ago. And mommy is Paola who is also as sweet a person as you will ever find. They tease me about broccoli which is my least favorite vegetable and bring me bunches of fresh acelga (chard) each week. When Joe and I were researching moving to Panama we looked at every picture we could find on the internet that showed the food items that were available.  See the pictures below for close up pictures of what Gonzalo sells.

IMG_2967His produce varies each day but most days you can find potatoes, red onions, scallions, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, mandarin oranges, juice oranges, pineapple, cantaloupe,  other melons in season, watermelon, tree tomato and naranjilla.

IMG_2966Some days he will have both the choclo and the yellow corn along with a green vegetable that they stuff with cheese and bake.

IMG_2965Fresh mora berries, green peas, peanut butter, sal piedra, crushed peanuts, tamarind, garlic, white onions, long beans and green beans. Tomatoes, green peppers and carrots are also available.

IMG_2964Today he had strawberries, fresh red beans, cilantro, cauliflower, broccoli and radishes.  I did see lettuce and white cabbage somewhere in the cart as well.

He also carries raisins, other fruits in season, grapefruit, apples, hot peppers, fresh peanuts, watermelon, yucca, the purple sweet potatoes they call camote, celery and bok choy called nabo here.  And if you do not see what you want, ask and he may even be able to get it for you in the next several days.

I depend upon Gonzalo for most of my fresh fruits and veggies.  His produce is fresh, reasonably priced and he always has a smile on his face.

Viche

What great neighbors we have. This afternoon our neighbor Paola brought us a huge bowl of viche. This batch was made with lobster, shrimp, choclo (corn), small plantain balls and the most wonderful broth made with peanuts. Of course she did provide rice as well.  It is out of this world and Paola is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

IMG_2153We eat like royalty here. Between the kindness of our neighbors like Paola and the bounty we can buy right at our door we are blessed.

We have a new fruta and verdura vendor who has started to come by on Friday mornings. Today he had strawberries, black and red grapes, granny smith apples as well as gala apples and pears, passion fruit, mora, naranjilla just to name a few. He had corn, peas, small and large lima beans as well as fresh fava beans, carrots, red onions, green onions, cauliflower, broccoli, two types of potatoes, iceberg lettuce and cilantro.  Next week I will take a photo of his truck and him and his wife.

Feeling very blessed…

Fruits and Peppers in the Garden

We have such an abundance from our garden.  Below are just a few of the fruits that we gather each week. I am happy to say that many of my neighbors and folks on my daily walk like guava or guayaba, everyone here uses lemons on almost a daily basis so we are happy to share what our garden produces. Some of our other trees do not yet produce enough to share a great deal. I just cannot use all that we get from our garden so giving the egg delivery guys a bag full of guayaba is a wonderful way to thank them for their service and use the extra fruits that Joe and I can not eat.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 048We are blessed to have found a home that had a garden filled with fruit trees. Each day we pick fruits for our table and share with neighbors and friends.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 036San Clemente 9.23.2014 011San Clemente 9.23.2014 029San Clemente 9.23.2014 027The above four photos are our pomegranate or granadas.  I have made Pomegranate Syrup to use on pancakes.

San Clemente 8.4.2014 043San Clemente 8.4.2014 046These are one of several lemon trees that give us fruit almost year round. The trees have just finished blossoming and we have picked all the old fruit to allow the new fruit all the nourishment the tree can give them.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 030San Clemente 9.23.2014 031San Clemente 9.23.2014 026The pepper plants in the ground are not as happy as the ones in the pot. Our soil is basically sand, I am amazed anything can grow in it.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 028San Clemente 8.4.2014 037Star fruit or fruta china is an exotic fruit, sweet, juicy. Wonderful for juice but they never make it to the juicer. With only one ripe at a time it is so easy just to wash it and eat it right out in the yard. And that is what I do most times.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 024This papaya is located outside our fence but it started from seeds that I tossed so I think of it as mine, ja ja  They are getting close, I just hope they are sweet with dark fruit, some of the lighter fruit papayas are tasteless.

San Clemente 9.23.2014 025San Clemente 8.4.2014 040Naranjilla is another exotic fruit and I do not think its natural habitat is on the coast. This is a sierra fruit but I found a tree and am babying it hopefully soon to put it in the ground.  The leaves and stems have thorns and can cause some good pinches. You can use the fruit for juice by boiling it for about 10 minutes and then blending and straining, adding water and some sugar. I like to use it in Seco de Chivo or Seco de Pollo.

San Clemente 9.25.2014 024Our guava or guyaba tree seems to be always producing. I make marmalade and paste from the fruit as well as an occasional batido. The tree is also a wonderful shade tree to keep our little yard cool during those hot sunny days.

San Clemente 9.23a.2014 002San Clemente 9.23a.2014 001Thanks for taking the tour of our garden which is only 20 x 30 feet. Small but filled with such surprises. And smiles.

Naranjilla in Bloom

The other day while watering my plants I took a good look at my naranjilla plant (gift given to me by Deborah Millard just a few months ago) and was very surprised to see it was in flower. It is so small I just did not feel it would start to bear fruit for years, much less in a handful of months.

San Clemente 9.5.2013 007 San Clemente 9.5.2013 006 San Clemente 9.5.2013 004From searching online it looks like even this little plant can have fruit.  Not sure if I should allow it to continue to fruit or get rid of the flowers so that the tree itself would strengthen, if anyone has any experience with naranjilla let me know what you think.

One Vendor at the Mercado

Joe told me the pictures I took for my mercado story last week were a bit weak! He meant you really could not see the fruits or vegetables to get a good idea of what was for sale. When I went to my favorite young folks for my frutilla fix this morning I decided to take several more pictures.

Here’s an enlarged view of the prices in the previous photo.

These young folks are here every day of the week with fresh fruits and veggies. The young man speaks a few words of English and they are both very helpful.

Playas Mercado

One thing we have found in common at all the mercados here in Ecuador is their hard working vendors. Some entire families from Grandma to the infants come to the mercado seven days a week, working long hours just to make a living.  Today I went looking for shrimp $3.50 lb, albacora tuna $3.50 lb, frutilla (strawberries $1.50 lb) and lemons 30 for $1 which are really a small green lime like a key lime.

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Most of the vendors go out of their way to be so helpful, will try to explain about anything that I am not sure about and will even give me cooking advice when I get that totally lost look on my face. If you want a piece of tuna or marlin you can get as little as a pound, they will clean it by removing the skin or bones and if you are looking for the entire fish they will do the same – filleting it or cutting it into steaks. All you need to do is ask. They do give you all the scraps as folks here use them to make broths and soups.  Currently albacora tuna is $3.50 a pound, nice sized shrimp heads-on about 20 to a pound is the same $3.50 a pound. I have purchased pangora (stone crab claws) for $3.50 to $3.75 a pound as well. Because I did not know how to cook stone crab claws the vendor was happy enough to give me basic cooking instructions.  Most days you can find Dorado (dolphin or mahi mahi), corvina (sea bass), albacora (tuna), marlin and swordfish, camarones (different sizes of shrimp), almejas (clams), mejillones (mussels), cangrejo (live crabs or cleaned crab meat) calamar (squid), octopus (pulpo) plus an array of small whole fish that I do not know the names for. You can purchase yucca or plantain or sweet potato chips fresh for a $1 a large bag. Vegetables range from long beans, to several different varieties of fresh beans, lettuce, fresh herbs, the standards like tomatoes, green peppers, red onions, scallions and I have even found shallots on occasion. Fruits run from the Mora (blackberry good only for juice or jams can’t just pop them in your mouth), several varieties of apples some Ecuadorian grown most others from Chile. Peaches, plums, melons, pears, bananas just to name a few. Then you have the mandarinas, sour-sop, pineapple, guanabana, tree tomato, avocados. There are stalls with fresh killed pigs, cows, chickens and goats, Joe said he even saw duck at one stall but I guess I missed that. There is an herb man that sells different ground herbs, fresh peanut butter with no additives like sugar or salt, he also sells liquid mixtures of different herb combinations used in specific dishes this is as close to the US’s bottled herb mixes as I have seen here.

It is an adventure just visiting the stalls and seeing what is available, we even found cigars some that look like they are homemade for .15 cents each to those that actually look like a fancy store bought cigar for .25 cents each…Joe like to light one of these up once in a while.

This mercado sells nail polish, soap, pots and pans, live plants, hot dogs, herbal remedies, ball caps and so much more it would take me a week to list everything. Suffice it to say this is one of the better mercados because of its variety of goods.

Fruits, Fruits and more Fruits

We get most of our fruits and vegetables from the mercado. I do not like my tomatoes or avocados purchased from a cooler because the flavor and texture changes so buying at the mercado pretty much insures that these items are fresh off the farm and not refrigerated. While we were out looking for some home items we came across a man selling juice oranges, mandarin oranges and mangos several blocks past the mercado. It looked to me like he picks the fruit fresh from his own trees and drives to this spot each morning to sell what is seasonal.

This photo above shows just some of the fruits  I keep at hand. The bananas look a bit dark but they will be used to make Banana Bread and the avocado is not for guacamole although we do love it, I make a Bebidas (fruit smoothie) with them. I will give you the recipe below.

The juice oranges were 25 for $1, the mangoes were eight for $1 and the star fruit was free. Yes, seems that my friend Miguel needed some repairs done to his Lada and his mechanic has a star fruit tree that was overflowing with ripe fruit. He let us pick what we wanted. Bananas are .05 cents each or some days 4 for .25 cents depending on the size and the avocado’s run  3 for a $1 most places unless they are really big and then it can be 3 large for $2.  There is a man who sells naranjilla juice a 10 oz cup for .25 cents and another sells tiny hard-boiled quail eggs 5 for .50 cents they are one of Joe’s favorite snacks when he shops with me. He always finds a reason to wander to the front of the mercado for these tiny eggs.

Avocado Fruit Smoothie or Aguacate Bebida

  • 1 Large Ripe ready to eat Avocado
  • 8 oz. water
  • 8 oz. semidescremada milk or 2%
  • 6-8 ice cubes (use less water and more ice cubes if you want it thicker)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Peel and remove the pit of the avocado and put in blender with all other ingredients. Pulse until the ice is broken up and blend for one minute. It will be the consistency of a milk shake. Enjoy!  If you really want to have a treat add a handful of Mora (blackberries) and blend – I normally blend the Mora separately and strain as I do not like the seeds in my drink, then I put the thick juice in an ice-cube tray and freeze. I would add one or two cubes to my avocado bebita for that special flavor.  Makes 4 servings

Out of this world, you will never want any other fruit smoothie once you taste avocado….