En route to the big supermarket/department store Bodegona, one passes places offering Thai, Hawaiian and several other kinds of massage, storefront tour agencies promising experience guides (sorry, there was no D o the sign: accuracy in reporting here) to take you to volcanos, Nearly an entire aisle devoted to hot sauce. Next to me a tanned and grizzled expat, looking like Crocodile Dundee but worse for the wear, the scent of stale beer reeking from every pore, stared intently as he tried to decide between Picamas and Maya-Ik (both brands available in the small Central American groceries in New Bedford and Providence). Aisles are crowded hand-made signs promoting the weekly specials: an extra roll of toilet paper when you buy a package of 4, a 10 pound bag of black beans. A few jars of Roland Dijon mustard (Q28, I think) and some bottles of balsamic vinegar alongside the huge bottles of local brands. I haven't yet broken down and purchased balsamic or dijon but who knows, I might. I did find some soy sauce that seemed to actually have soy and not just caramel coloring, to go with the locally-made tofu I'd purchased at Dona Luisa's - a well known restaurant and bakery. The bakery shop also sells cheese, locally made yogurt and the above-mentioned tofu, soy milk, coffee beans and a few bottles of liquor, some juices and assorted other items. I eat enough beans and tortillas and caldo de gallina (chicken soup) when I am up in Quiche, and I had made a large amount of red beans the night before but decided to give my digestive system a break.
Did I mention that Trader Joe's has made it to Antigua? No store yet, but a few of the boutique-type food stores display a few products -- at Epicure, TJ brand red wine vinegar, pepper grinder (loaded with peppercorns -- two or three varieties), pink Himalayan sea salt crystals, along with other delicacy items carefully displayed like prizes on the shelves. Yesterday my colleague told me that Starbucks was coming to Guatemala. Of course, Guatemala City is already inundated with stores and billboards promoting U.S. and foreign brands -- I remember seeing a Lacoste boutique at one of the malls, and some small stores selling Crocs.
The city market is another world and worth an entry on its own.