Enjoying the Culture of My City: Grocery Shopping on the Other Side of Town

(*day 16// write31days// more here)

Landis and I took a 25 minute road trip to an H-E-B (our grocery chain around these parts) on the completely opposite side of town. Luke told me it was an amazing store with very Mexican influences.

And since this is the city that I love, that I’m longing to understand and know more about, I thought this would be perfect.

I may have grown up here, but it’s taken years for me to realize that when you are immersed in something so much, you don’t have the proper perspective of it until you step out and take a bigger look at it. And you have to want to do it, too.

When we went to Soma School last year, one thing they encouraged us to do when we got home was to take careful note of our own city– our side of town, our neighborhood, our community, everything, and almost pretend that we were outsiders, so that we could learn more about it and figure out what the rhythms and heartbeat and passions are of our culture. If we want to see the Gospel deeply impact our culture and community, we have to first figure out the story and the context and the pressing influences.

It’s extremely hard to put your finger on it when you are swimming in it. You have to get out of the water and look around, so to speak. And I do want to know what makes my city tick. And not that going to a grocery story or visiting a park gives me all the answers, but it’s a start, a piece of the puzzle. And that’s what I want.

So Landis and I got out and took a look around our city. I went with my usual grocery list and we just did regular old shopping. But it was extra delightful. I felt like I was in a Mexican market, except everyone was speaking English, which was nice. I was at first struck by the colors–our city is a colorful city, and I really think alot of that is attributed to the Hispanic influence, and I’m so thankful for it!

The tortilla making center was amazing–I had no idea that when they make corn tortillas they literally punch the tortilla shapes out of a sheet of corn tortillas with this huge machine. Landis was in awe of the fast moving machines and busy worker bees, and of course the employees spotted his blonde hair instantly and came over with a piping hot flour tortilla for the little man. He enjoyed it, and come to think of it didn’t even give me a bite. The nerve.

Tortillas. They’re essential. And I’ve lived here long enough to know to only buy my tortillas from the H-E-Bs that actually make them in front of your eyes. They are way different than the ones on the shelf, and way better. And I always buy extra bags and freeze them. Every culture has a bread type of thing–tortillas, pitas, steamed buns, pasta…

I was mesmerized by the rows and rows of bags of pinto beans, not to mention the open bins of beans you can scoop up by the pound. I guess the pinto bean aisle is similar to the pasta aisle on my side of town. 

The Aguas Frescas section was colorful and beautiful, as well as delicious. Landis picked the Fresas con Limon, which was fancy for Strawberry Lemonade. And of course the rows of Mexican inspired candy had Landis intrigued, so we had to buy one little treat to share with the sisters.

It’s interesting how much you can notice about a culture by what they sell at the local grocery store. You can make observations about colors, foods, treats that are well-loved, and even religious preferences. 
It’s almost silly how visiting a different grocery store can make you love your city more, but it did. It made me appreciate the diversity we have here and the beauty and the intermingling of worlds and cultures into what we call San Antonio. 
If this store was closer I know I would visit more. It was a hustling, bustling market place but it made me feel right at home.

*all pictures taken with my iPhone. I couldn’t bear to play the tourist and take my huge ol’ camera out*

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