This title sounds like a really bad infomercial, I know – but it needs to be said this way.
I was so excited when I read the tweet from @Giant_Eagle on Thursday that they were having a Latin Food Fiesta to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15)! I tweeted the link to the website with the info, which @Giant_Eagle then re-tweeted…ooh, I’m famous!
I became skeptical, though, when I saw that there was a link to see WHERE this was being celebrated. Uh oh. I knew that the Kennywood Giant Eagle wouldn’t be on the list, but I held out hope for The Waterfront location.
They ARE! AND they are the only Pennsylvania location holding it all 4 days – September 16, 17, 23, and 24! AMAZING! AND I do my grocery shopping on Fridays there anyway, so I could check it out!
It’s sad what gets me excited these days, I guess.
Later, I opened my Giant Eagle ad at home, which had arrived the day before – I probably should have looked at it sooner, but I was busy going to Mallorca for dinner the day before (more about that later). They were advertising many Latin American brands that were on sale for the fiesta – Goya, La Preferida, etc. – brands that are widely sold at Giant Eagle, but can also be found at Reyna Foods in the Strip District. I was excited to see what was going to be offered.
When I arrived at Giant Eagle on Friday afternoon, I went about my normal produce-buying routine – apples, bananas, kale…- and then came across these babies:
Ahhhh, mangoes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I love mangoes. 4 for $5? SOLD.
Not far from the mangoes was a display for produce related to the Latin Food Fiesta celebration:
Ok, yeah, hot peppers, tomatillos, avocados, cilantro, limes, sweet onions, bell peppers…I get all of that. Nothing too out of the ordinary or exciting, though.
I remembered seeing in the ad about rambutans, which I had never seen at Giant Eagle before – I had no idea what they were, but I did remember that they were $6.99/lb. in the ad. That’s insane! $6.99/lb.? No way was I buying them.
I was tempted to buy them just because they looked interesting, but I didn’t, and not just because of the price. I didn’t know what they were. I don’t know what they taste like. I still don’t. Wait, let me Google it…
Well, you can read about it at http://www.rambutan.com. It’s totally not related to anything Latin or Hispanic – but here’s a pic:
Here’s a tip, Giant Eagle – if you want me to buy something, educate me on it…and offer a sample.
Anyway, I continued through the produce section to buy ingredients for Pumpkin Chili (I’m super excited that it’s almost fall and appropriate to eat anything with pumpkin once again), and I came upon another section of exotic produce.
GUAVA! I have been looking for guava for months!
Yucca root! I LOVE the yucca fries from Chicken Latino! Maybe I can try to make my own!
Ugh, really? Hispanic Heritage Month, and jicama is STILL $3.99/lb.?! At least now I know that I can buy it at Stan’s Market in the Strip District for $.89/lb.
I continued about my normal shopping routine, and the usual ladies were across from the meat section, offering samples, as usual – but today I noticed that everything that they were offering samples of was a Latin brand-product – some sort of Spanish rice, some Goya product…
Oh boy. There was prepared mole. I had to try it.
The woman offering the sample said that it was a chicken enchilada with mole. I told her that I love mole, and ate my sample.
Ick. It was cold. And it pretty much tasted like a commercial-brand flour tortilla, covered in mole, rolled up, and cut into small pieces. Chicken enchilada? Barely.
I finished my grocery shopping, and went to the checkout. The girl ringing up my purchases rudely asked me what my Yucca root was, as I guess that’s not a common purchase, so I left, packed up my car, and went home, disappointed that Giant Eagle’s Latin Food Fiesta did not set off the explosion in my heart quite the way that the word “fiesta” does on its own.
I’m glad that Giant Eagle is taking a step to make people aware of their Latin American products, but the execution could be better. I know that the Shaler location is having a book signing by Aarón Sánchez from Food Network’s “Chefs vs. City” on the 17th, but that is not enough to make people aware of what Latin cooking is all about. People need to be educated on the common flavors and ingredients, and how they come together to make Latin food taste as sabrosa y rica as it does.
After dinner at Chili’s (don’t judge me – I’ll explain more later), I came home to taste some of the unusual things that I had purchased earlier.
Well, first I had to get my pumpkin chili prepared and in the crockpot. That was a priority.
I then took out my yucca root to take a pic for you all to see – and noticed something strange – one of the roots had split into two pieces, and a small piece had come off. That’s weird.
Oh, that would be why – it was molding. Fabulous. $1.99/lb., and it’s moldy. I had put two roots back while picking them out because they were moldy – I should have taken that as a sign that I shouldn’t buy it.
I then decided to taste the guava – I had bought those guava-flavored wafer cookies by Goya as part of the number challenge reward – they were amazing, by the way - and I had one student who came back for seconds…and thirds…and fourths…so I was curious to see what guava tasted like on its own (and not in wafer cookie form).
I took a spoon to the middle, figuring that was where the most flavor was – and I was right. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much flavor at all. I’m thinking that it wasn’t quite ripe enough, so I’ll let the other one sit for a day or two before I try it.
After those two depressing experiences, I needed a sure thing – ahhh, mango.
I have to say, without a doubt, that The Pampered Chef Mango Wedger has made my mango-eating experiences much more enjoyable. You may know (or maybe you don’t) that the skin of a mango is not edible (or tasty, for that matter), so only the yellow-orange fruity part should be consumed; however, the pit of a mango is oblong and hard, so getting the fruit by itself is not easy to do – unless you have this magical mango wedger.
With the help of my mango wedger, I have mastered the art of mango consumption. I wedge the mango, and then cut each of the four sections in half. This gives me eight sections of mango, plus any fruit left on the pit.
I put it all in a bowl, and to eat the mango, I treat the skin as I would a cantaloupe or watermelon rind – I eat the fruit all the way down to it. Mangoes are even better for this, too, because you can use your teeth to peel the fruit away from the skin, and then discard the skin. I use a fork to scrape any fruity parts off of the pit, and eat that, being sure not to waste any good mango-y goodness.
So that was my Friday night – pumpkin chili in the slow cooker, moldy yucca root, tasteless guava…but ending with sweet, delicious mango. Oh, and black tea. Not important, but it was part of my night, and it was comforting.
I guess I should write about my dinner at Mallorca…and explain why I was at Chili’s, of all places, on Mexico’s Independence Day….
Giant Eagle – Waterfront Location
420 East Waterfront Drive
Homestead, PA 15120
If you are interested in The Pampered Chef Mango Wedger, please contact:
The Pampered Chef
Marie McDonald – Consultant