Verduras y frutas at the feria
What will $513 UY pesos* get you at the Atlántida feria? More than I could fit in the photo: *approximately $17.60 USD
- 2 manojos grandes de espinaca
- 1/2 kilo de fresas
- 4 manzanas
- 2 morrónes
- 2 dientes de ajo
- 2 lechugas
- 1 docena de huevos
- 2 pepinos, 4 naranjas
- 2 paquetes de menta fresca
- 6 papas
- and at the hipermercado, on the way back to the casa, 1 paquete de galletas de arroz
The Thursday feria is Atlántida is, possibly, larger than the one I explored in the Parque Rodó section of Montevideo, as it covers some 4 or 5 blocks. About one half of the first block has fruit and vegetable stands; there’s a cheese truck; a meat truck; and several small booths with dried fruit, spices and some random groceries. All the rest of it offers t-shirts, shoes, hats, purse, sunglasses, trinkets and some household goods.
There’s another smaller feria on Saturdays on the other side of town.
In Montevideo, with its much-larger population, there’s a feria just about every day of the week, in some neighborhood or other. The Montevideo feria hosts dozens of fruit/vegetable stands, almost mini-stores. By way of comparison, each of the largest stands have about the same amount of produce that a smaller grocery store in southern California would have – that is, not the largest of the chain stores, but more than a regular-size Trader Joes would have.
There were 6 or 8 trucks, at least, including the large seafood one. Only a handful of non-food tables and booths.
In Atlántida, I was expecting a lot of the food to be organic, but most was not. In Montevideo, I was surprised that the quality of the food on display seemed to be higher, since I thought the proximity to the farms in and around Atlántida would make it easier to deliver food faster. Later, though, I came to understand that the best of the crops go to the big city. Bigger market. I get it.
I ended up mostly not going to the feria, but to the hippermercado instead. Closer to the side of town where I live and easy enough to take the bus there and sometimes back, if I didn’t have too much to carry. Buying for just one person, I could get what I needed there.
Verduras orgánicas at the chacra
Every other Saturday at Pilar’s chacra [meaning ranch or farm] there’s a midday gathering for people to buy the fruits and vegetables. My friends, Gundy and Syd, live three blocks from me, so they would kindly pick me up for the short drive out into the campo. I know Atlántida is a small town, but even so, it’s a surprise to find it takes less than five minutes to really be out in the countryside.
Pilar’s greenhouse is at the end of a dirt road, past a pond on one side and a large field of dried bush-like plants. “Blueberries,” I’m told. “Just wait.”
The greenhouse has sturdy plastic sheeting for walls and roof over a wood frame. Rows of raised beds, all with an irrigation system, are always in various stages of planting. And everything here is organic.
Maybe a dozen people show up for conversation and to buy. Sometimes, depending on weather or schedules, there would be only 4 or 5 people. But always you could find various types of lettuce or greens, tomatoes, spinach, herbs and other vegetables from the greenhouse.
Ask for what you want and the owners go and cut it out of the ground or pick it off the plants there – talk about fresh!
Everything’s weighed for you, jotted down and you’re done. Reasonable prices, too.
Homemade jams are available at a small table and another couple had fresh wheat grass for sale at a makeshift table on upturned crates.
Everyone knows everyone and this is clearly a social occasion. They’re all interested in organic food-related products, so they share recipes and the latest news. After a few visits, this 3-hour stretch became just a bit too long to go grocery shopping. I was generally itching to get back to writing.