Ragged Claws

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Green Menace

An enjoyable aspect of shopping for fresh foods in Mexico City is that you can usually specify the exact amount that you'd like to pay for a given purchase (for example, instead of asking for a pound of cheese, you can request 20 pesos of cheese). This system makes it very easy to budget for groceries, as long as you have a rough sense of how items are priced by weight. Occasionally, though, there are miscalculations, such as I made when assuming that 10 pesos (about 95 cents) would buy a medium-sized bunch of cilantro. As it turns out, the cilantro to peso exchange rate is rather higher than that, and there is now a staggeringly huge bag of leafy greenery colonizing the entire top shelf of the refrigerator. Seriously, it's enough cilantro to feed an entire rabbit army. Plus all of the rabbits' gopher auxiliaries. And their chipmunk opponents. (The war between rabbits and chipmunks, while poorly covered by the mainstream media, is ongoing and deadly.) And because my grandparents' Depression-era thrift somehow seeped indelibly into the souls of all their descendants, letting any of the cilantro go to waste would be unthinkable (after all, it cost 95 cents! 95 CENTS, PEOPLE! Why, back in the day that money would get you a cherry phosphate down at the drugstore, a spiffy new fedora, a waltz with the prettiest girl at the dancehall, and two tickets to the WPA cockfight.) So I've been adding the leaves to all my meals lately, although with no appreciable diminution of the amount in the bag. That's okay - it's a war of attrition (much like the other conflict that the chipmunks are engaged in, you know, the one with the voles), and I'm confident that, with time, there's a better than 40% chance I'll succeed in breaking the cilantro's will.