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August 24, 2011

Favorite Places: Bodega

It's the long awaited Bodega post! I've been saying for months that I would show you around a mexican grocery store. Today is the day! I LOVE bodegas! When I was little my Ita would take me shopping with her and while she did shop at traditional American grocery stores, we would always make an extra stop at a bodega on the way home. There are a lot of things you just can't get anywhere else. Here are some of my favorites from my local bodega:

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At my local store the first thing you run into is a giant shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe. To most Americans this might seem odd. It is huge, it is gaudy, it is covered in tacky silk flowers and candles with images of saints on them. To me this is home.

My Ita was fashionable. She was always dressed to the nines in an outfit following the latest trends with her hair and makeup perfect. She also carried a special place in her heart for kitsch. Her house was decorated with classic mid-century furniture nestled atop thick red plush carpet. It was peppered throughout with an incredible assortment of knick-knacks and mementos collected over the years. They ranged everywhere from elegant crystal and jade sculptures to chinese lanterns and sequined sombreros. I may have missed out on perfect hair and make up, but the kitsch lives strong within me. I keep a tiny Dia De Los Muertos shrine in my apartment now. It just looks right.

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Were you looking to create a tiny shrine of your own? Look no further friend, everything you need is right here! The selection of candles in my local bodega is staggering.

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I actually own these ones. :)

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Moving into the food category. You are bound to encounter a wide array of dried chilies. They vary immensely so it's best to head into the store with a recipe and Chile name in hand rather than try to blindly select one from the masses.

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I primarily use Chile Anchos. They are rich in flavor and color and mild in heat. I use them to make enchiladas, but they can be used in hundreds of sauces and soups.

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I addition to a meat and dairy counter my store features a fruit carving counter! How awesome is that? You can buy fresh sliced tropical fruits - On a Stick! So amazingly good.

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The back half of my store leaves the groceries behind and becomes a super store. It's pretty incredible. They carry all kinds of clothing from soccer shirts and baby clothes to quinceanera dresses and boys tuxedos. There are CD's, DVD's wedding decorations, lawn ornaments and intricately inlaid wooden tables like the one pictured above. Crazy right?!?

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Remember my embroidery find? I got it at the Bodega!

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My favorite part of the bodega is the massive pastry case as you head for the checkout. Word of warning: Mexican pastries are beautiful hands down, but they are nothing like the pastries you would find at your corner bistro. The first two pastries pictured are conchas the last are elotito. There are some noticeable differences between these pastries and the ones you're probably used to.

The first is sugar. They may be sweet rolls but they are surprisingly low in sugar. My Ita didn't like them for this reason. They look like they would be almost donut like when in reality, they're only slightly sweetened. The other most notable difference is texture. I'm not entirely sure why because I've never seen them made, but they are really dry. Even fresh out of the oven. They are not at all buttery or chewy.

I know I probably just painted a horrible picture of them but I wasn't trying to, promise! I am seriously addicted to these things! They are the perfect accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee. The perfect snack to pair with a mug of hot chocolate!  If you ever find yourself in need of a good sturdy bread to use in a bread pudding - yeah, best bread pudding I've had in my life. On your way out of the store go ahead and pick one out. You will hopefully be pleasantly surprised!

Next time I'll take pics of my staple purchases.

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I love it!!
I'm from San Antonio and all of these things are so recognizable. I work for a grocery company that's only here in south Texas and it caters to the general population in the area, I live in a heavily hispanic populated area and all of this is in the regular grocery store.
It's wonderful!

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