Tuesday, January 04, 2011

eating my portion

Shopping lesson: check the package to see how much has been eaten before you buy it.

It was a new lesson for me when I first moved to Mexico.

A fellow blogger was showing me around some of the bigger grocery stores in Manzanillo.  We have three: Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, and Walmart. 

Which has the best Italian olive oil.  Where to buy New Zealand butter.  When to pass on the fresh vegetables (almost always). 

She then told me something I had not considered in any other country I have lived.  Look at every package to see if it has been opened and if anything has been eaten.

I thought she was joking.  But she told me about buying some ice cream.  When she opened it at home, she discovered someone had already eaten a scoop out of it.

How does that happen?  Do mothers carry spoons with them to determine if the French vanilla is superior to the regular vanilla?  Are there marauding food gangs in big grocery stores?

I still do not know the answer to how it happens.  But it does.  I have seen other examples.  And I am not talking about the people who eat a grape or two in the produce section.

I have seen a young mother open a box of corn flakes, take a handful of cereal, eat it, and close up the box.  Or two young women standing at the salad bar eating pineapple and mango slices as if they were at a presidential reception.

As a result, I have been rather careful about buying packaged food.  I give it a look as thorough as a TSA agent using a body scan on Sharon Stone.


I was in Manzanillo on Monday to pick up mail.  On a whim, I stopped at Comercial to see if they had any exotica on hand.  Stuffed into a snack shelf was a tube of sour cream Pringles.

I am not a big Pringles fan.  But I will eat almost any snack that is not lime and chili flavored.  In Mexico that means that I do not eat many snacks.

Indiana Jones could not have nabbed an idol quicker than I grabbed the tube.  Into the basket it went.

I do not remember how much it cost, but it was spendy.  Probably around 50 pesos.  Four dollars.  But it was going to be my treat for the month.  I could imagine pulling out two or three at a time and savoring them.

On Friday, I decided it was time to start my ration program.  And then I noticed it.  The foil under the clear plastic top was torn open.  And quite a few of the snacks were already gone.

Worse.  I tasted one.  Not surprisingly, it was stale.  Once crisp treats are opened here on the tropical cost, they go soggy -- fast.

So, out went the treasured tube.

It was just as well.  I do not need the additional calories or carbohydrates.  I have been doing a good job of stripping off some of the pounds I accumulated during my ankle convalescence.

But it is a reminder for me to start looking at packaging.  I do not mind sharing my food.  However, I usually prefer doing that after I have bought it.


Barbilou said...

Good tip! That hasn't happened to me yet, but I know exactly what you mean about coveting something like Pringles. What's up with their Cheetos? Same exact packaging, except there's this little chili pepper emblem... I once loaded my cart at Costco in Hermosillo with REAL Ruffles. At 8 bucks a pop.

Thanks. Just added you to my blogroll.

Lauriematherne said...

This post made me laugh. When I was in high school, before food had plastic liners, etc inside, I knew a few boys who worked at night in grocery stores who helped themselves to pickles out of jars, etc. It could be workers, too. I have not had problems in the grocery stores in Teguz but there are multitudes of workers in our stores, maybe for security so people won't eat the stuff. I don't know. I know to be careful with bag handlers, who are known in Latin America to help themselves to stuff after you purchase it by quickly stowing it away in pockets or under shelves.

Lauriematherne said...

This tip is certainly good for Honduras, where many items sold as new are not new and may not work!