Yesterday afternoon Seth and I walked to 7 de Agosto, a well-known market in the locality of Barrios Unidos. Although 7 de Agosto is not nearly as vast as Paloquemao, its selection is equally impressive. Situated inside a warehouse-type building, vendors offer everything from fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, cheese, eggs, oils, and ground spices, to cooking utensils and small pets. Seth and I were able to find almost all of the ingredients to make a green Thai curry in addition to a few tropical fruits we had not yet discovered.
One of the things I love about Colombian markets is their generosity and willingness to answer questions. For example, almost every stand we visited gave us complimentary goodies on top of our purchases. (At one stand, we bought mangosteens, and they added a couple of tangerines. At another, we bought lemongrass, and they gave us some mint.) We did not know much about the fruits we spotted, so each vendor tried to give us their names and brief taste profiles. Sometimes, if the fruit was not particularly expensive, they cut it open so we could try it before we bought it. Of course, they were more likely to do this once we had already picked out something for purchase.
In addition to the stalls, 7 de Agosto also hosts a selection of market restaurants. The most prevalent are fruit stands, which offer ensaladas de frutas (fruit salads) and banana splits. There are also a couple of coffee stands and even a lechona “restaurant” with bar stools. Seth and I have yet to sample the latter, but we plan to next weekend.
All in all, Seth and I ended up lugging home three new fruits from the market: papayuela (in English, mountain papaya), mangostinos (mangosteens), and anonas (sugar apples). We also bought some ripe mangoes and a pair of coconuts. (We have come to assume that canned coconut milk is expensive here because producers are punishing those who are too lazy to make it themselves. Coconuts in Colombia cost about US$0.75. Mix the insides with some hot water, and you have a pint of fresh, vitamin-packed liquid perfect for a Thai curry or piña colada.) I bought the reddish pineapple at our neighborhood grocery store last week, but I decided to throw it into the photo for more color.
Since 7 de Agosto is within comfortable walking distance of our apartment, we hope to visit semi-regularly. In other words, I should continue to have plenty of inspiration for tropical fruit blog entries!
[7 de Agosto: Calle 66 # 23-30, Bogotá-Colombia]