Friday, April 17, 2009

Behind Door Number 2, We Have...

I go to the grocery store, on average, once a week, and most of those times I buy sliced ham from the deli counter. It works exactly the same as in the US except that they pretty much only have ham. I recently discovered turkey, but it's not always in stock.

This means that in the two years we've been living here, I've probably bought ham at least 50 times, and I've yet to get the same thing two times in a row. I always say the same thing:

"Quisiera un quarto de jamon de pavo."

I'd like a quarter (of a kilo) of turkey ham.

Sometimes I ask for "jamon de pierna", which is leg of ham, and sometimes I go crazy and request "jamon de pavo de pierna", but even with those variations, I've had way more than three different things end up in my cart.

A couple months ago the woman asked me if I wanted "pierna" (leg) or "pechuga" (breast), which really confused me because I'd never considered pork having breast meat. I think I told her pierna. The following week I repeated exactly what she'd said to me and I was given a completely different looking ham.

I usually assume they give me whatever is NOT on sale, but I'm sure they recognize me by now, so I'm not sure that's what's going on. Some days they slice from a really large, ovalish hunk of meat, other times the pieces are small and square -- about the size of a slice of bread. The turkey ham is lighter in color, but only when I buy it. The few times I've dragged Ibis along I make him get it so we'll actually get what he wants, but I can't seem to replicate the results.

I've just accepted that I'm going to get something every time, and I've turned it into a whacked-out game: What Kind of Ham Will We Get This Week?

I want to ask if you have similar experiences, but I'm doubting that's possible. Feel free to share any bizarre things that DO happen to you on a regular basis.

12 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

I got nuttin'.

But I love hearing about your ham experiences! Who knew lunch meat could be so interesting. Truly. :D

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, these are things that have become so routine to me that I don't even think to tell you guys about them. :)

Christy said...

Well this is similar, but not regularly occuring. My friends and I vacationed in a small beach town in Brazil last year. We loved the coffee. Early every morning one of the guys would go get a large cup at the local shop by asking for it in portuguese (I've since forgotten the wording). On about his fourth time there, he asked his same question to the same lady who had served him the previous three days, but she shook her head madly and said no. He repeated, pointing the machine and to the large cups but she insisted, no, and served a small cup of the same coffee. We never did figure out why he was 'allowed' large cups the first three days, but was demoted to the small ones on the 4th day. ha!

Melanie Avila said...

Christy, that is almost EXACTLY what happened with me. I happily ordered my ham for months until one morning when they suddenly gave me options. I said I don't know, I always order it like this and get ham. Maybe they realized I live here and want to give me more options? I don't know. But it was the SAME confusion!

Turkey Lurkey said...

I've never heard of turkey ham. (However I've been called a 'ham' before.)

Personally, I am a bit queezy about my lunch meat. I just don't know what part of the animal I am eating. I used to order sliced turkey breast, but they slice it from a 'loaf' of meat molded like no animal I've ever seen. I've decided its better to cook a chicken breast and slice it for sandwiches.

Just make sure you aren't getting the Queso de Cabeza! (< my Gringo Spanish)

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey, yesterday the woman in front of me ordered some kind of meat medley. I almost asked what it was but decided my stomach couldn't handle it. Barf.

I'm the same way about my meat - that's why this gets so frustrating. I wish they had sliced chicken off the breast...

Nadine said...

The restaurants here are used to tourists so they don't expect the same customer twice. At one place, I enjoy ordering the banana split (which is served in a carved out pineapple – yum!)

But sometimes they serve it with all the toppings and sometimes they don't. Since I go there often, I know it comes with the toppings so I have to send it back - much to the waiters disbelief who insists it doesn't come with all the fudge and caramel sauce (I'm a dessert fanatic. They can't pull a fast one on me.) and finally about 20 minutes later, I have my dessert. But it’s such a hassle.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, that happens to us ALL the time, and not just with food.

The salsa club we went to on Saturday NEVER charges cover, yet they did that time. Ibis explained to her -- as we always do -- that we're not tourists, we live here, we've come before and know there's no cover, yet she insisted that they've always charged a cover.

I watched as other people came in throughout the night -- other regulars -- and all of them were at the door complaining. It was a holiday week so there were lots of tourists, but when someone KNOWS how it's supposed to be, don't lie. Just say they have to charge one that night.

Robin said...

That's a very cool story. It's like a Seinfeld episode in Mexico.

Once we were in Italy, and I payed for tickets to a museum with a 2,000 lira note, and the guy wouldn't give me change. I speak Italian (bizarre factoid), and I argued with him about the change. Adam was wandering around, but realized there was a commotion - me arguing with the guy at the counter. He was smirking in a really obnoxious way, and I was near tears. Adam came up to the counter and said, "What seems to be the problem?" in English. The guy took one look at gigantic Adam, and handed over the change in a second.

I was so aggravated I could barely look at the exhibits. All I could think of was revenge. Never got it, though. Sigh.

mary said...

Thanks for the laugh! It got me thinking about when you took me to the store with and tried so nicely to ask for chuck steak/roast from the meat guy and the one I finally chose was the $30 chunk of ribeye that he wrapped up for me, then dropping it with the other meats when I found the cheap stuff I REALLY wanted in the first place. I believe you bought ham that trip too!

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, on the tails of your comment on my last post -- being a woman really sucks sometimes. Especially a small woman. I've had similar situations here (but more where they're trying to overcharge me, not keep my money) and I have to drag Ibis over to straighten things out. Heaven forbid a WOMAN know what she's talking about.

And even more ridiculous in your case that Adam doesn't speak Italian, yet he convinced the man. Grr.

Melanie Avila said...

Mary, I'd forgotten about that! That was funny. :) I wonder if the guy found your meat and got pissed off? Hmm...