last tuesday, patricio and i used our gift registry balance to buy some knives. we'd been slicing and dicing everything from eye-stinging onions to rib-eye steaks with a single, serrated knife for the past three months. when patricio began pulling out his heavy-duty hunting knife to help make the salad, we decided it was time to expand our kitchen repertoire of cutlery.
our sleek new set hadn't been de-boxed for more than five minutes before patricio gave them a quick wash and set to work on slicing up meat for tacos. it didn't take long, though, to realize that instead of effortlessly turning steak into strips, he was hacking away at that meat on the counter. he looked up with an expression that spoke for itself, mixing "har har har!" and "for the love of sweet Jesus" into one hilarious grimace. upon further experimentation on that hapless steak, it became clear that all the straight-edged knives needed more sharpening than the accompanying steel rod could do for us. it was time to recruit a professional. in the meantime, the hunting knife has made a number of encore performances.
patricio mentioned last night that he planned on taking the knives with him to work today so he could have them sharpened in tlalnepantla. i spent a good hour listening to the knife-sharpener's pan flute sending its ocarina-clear notes trilling through the neighborhood, thinking i wouldn't need to flag him down for his services. later, putting water on to boil, my eyes rested on the black block of knives, every single one tucked snugly into place. i wondered if patricio had forgotten about his plan, but it soon dawned on me that today he couldn't drive the car. with the jetta still in the shop, we've been hopping behind the wheel of his parents' ford; it's certainly worked in our favor that they're in houston until april. the point is, that it's probably not a very smart idea to carry three big knives around all day on public transportation, dull or otherwise. patricio doesn't look menacing, but pointy metal sure does.
i decided to take them up to the market, having seen a knife sharpener there in front of the church a number of times. today apparently , was his day off, so i ended up carrying those knives around in their zara bag disguise while i took a long stroll through the market aisles. it's always a monumental temptation to buy up kilo upon kilo of fresh, leafy, smooth or crunchy vegetables, but with my already half-occupied paper bag, i wasn't very well-outfitted for the task.
i suddenly wished i had a bolsa de mandado, or market bag. sometimes made of thick, woven plastic, the most commonly used kind, though, are the soft but durable ones that also double as mobile advertising. left and right, slow-moving matrons, boys sent out for after-school errands, and sharp-eyed wives all passed by with their bolsas in tow. with names of local butchers, tortillerias and other small businesses printed on the side, the bags were overflowing with cilantro, celery, mangoes and limes, and sometimes the occasional chicken. i love these vinyl cornucopias.
i also love that they are an alternative to the plastic supermarket bags. not only are they more environmentally conservative, they're also a source of color and charm. the latter observation screams out "100% gringa," but i don't mind. the former isn't to say, either, that the way of life in general here is particularly concerned about conservation; the river hugging the edge of our neighborhood looks like coffee that shrek exfoliated in. small contributions are still valuable in the long run, though, so i appreciate the bolsa culture for that.
why don't i have one, then? i could easily buy a woven one, which i'll probably do sooner or later; they're even sold in the market itself. it's doubtful i'll be getting one of the billboard bags, though. they're usually given to customers who buy a good deal of the business's product, and with just patricio and i in the house to feed, i don't see myself buying tall stacks of tortillas or sausage enough for seven.
so i left the market with still-dull knives and without a bag full of jicama and fish, but full of good vibes, and free to smile inside about this place where i live.