Saturday in Santiago: The feria

Coincidentally, the past couple Saturdays I posted about food. More than that though, I posted about little corners of Santiago, the places that make up this city. I don’t think a couple of restaurants and a feria or farmers’ market make Santiago particularly unique, but they’re pieces of the ever-changing puzzle that come together to create the Santiago I’ve come to know.

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a series focused on those pieces, those glimpses of Santiago, but I’ve been a little scared. I probably won’t do exciting things every week in order to have material for every Saturday. Even if I did manage to do those things, I probably won’t post every single Saturday. How can I possibly start a series that is doomed for failure?

The answer, of course, is that I can lighten the hell up and realize that it’s just a blog, not the fate of the free world which is resting in my hands. So some Saturdays I’m going to talk about things I’ve eaten or seen or done in Santiago. And some Saturdays I won’t. Can we all live with that?

This Saturday, Rodolfo and I went to the feria. We’ve been to plenty of these open-air markets in our day, of course, but we hadn’t been in a while. Even though the produce is cheaper and better there than at the supermarket, the supermarket is just so easy. And with our crazy schedules these days, we love easy.

Colorful produce

However, we had some free time this morning, and it was a gorgeous, warm day, and on top of that food prices are high which has made our grocery bills a bit painful lately, so we decided to head over to a new-to-us feria. Enjoying time together, getting yummy things and saving some money sounds like a good combination to me.

Farmers' market produce

All that goodness cost us somewhere around $11.000, which is about US$23 right now. And what did we get? A kilo of strawberries, broccoli, half a kilo of tomatoes, half a kilo of carrots, a bunch of bananas, a dozen free-range eggs, a piece of squash (yes, “a piece” is the technical measurement), a kilo of onions, 3 prepared salads (cabbage, green beans, beetroot), a pineapple, three spring onions, a kilo of pears, a kilo of clementines, one red pepper, a kilo of lemons and three kilos of potatoes. Whew.

The eggs in particular are my favorite, as I think you can really taste the difference between the commercial stuff and huevos del campo.  Plus, look how pretty they are! The colors range from cream to brown and even greenish-blue. Yes, I’m a marketer’s dream, I know. Just let me enjoy my colored eggs in peace.

Huevos del campo

Eggs aside though, I think my favorite part of our excursion today was the feeling of splurging. Although we didn’t spend much, walking around the stalls and allowing ourselves to be tempted – strawberries! ready-to-eat salads! and yes, fancy eggs! – felt like a fun little shopping spree. And even though I’d be lying if I said I preferred food shopping to, say, shoe shopping, a cheap thrill that then becomes many good tasting moments throughout the week isn’t half bad.

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Saturday in Santiago

37 Responses to “Saturday in Santiago: The feria”

  1. Kyle says:

    The vega stresses me out beyond belief, I can’t handle the jotes. But you and your 23 dollar haul are making me want to go again.

    Also, I think I need a new vega. Maybe the one in The E.C. is my problem :)

    • Emily says:

      I used to love the vega, but I also always went to the same people. When I go to a new feria, I get a little overwhelmed by all the options, so I was glad Rodolfo could come with me this time.

  2. Abby says:

    Where’s the new-to-you feria? I am always looking for a new feria and it looks like your haul was pretty good!

    • Emily says:

      Emilia Tellez with Hamburgo. My host mom told me the other day that it’s where she goes, so we figured it would be pretty good, and we were happy.

  3. Andrea says:

    Beautiful photos – all that fresh produce looks amazing! So difficult to find in South America sometimes…
    Wish we were coming for dinner, haha =)

    • Emily says:

      Thanks! There’s plenty of good, fresh produce in Santiago – we’ll have to take you to the main central market (La Vega Central) when you’re back in town.

  4. leigh says:

    That spread looks absolutely mouthwatering! I wish $23 could buy that in NYC.

    I loved going to the ferias in Chile but have to admit that I found them intimidating sometimes because of the crowds and the overabundance of options. I also felt that my ability to engage in witty back-and-forth with the vendors was sorely lacking, which made me feel like I was missing out on a huge part of the feria experience.

    • Emily says:

      Rodolfo and I agreed that this particular feria was a good size because it was big enough to give options without being so big that it made us second-guess every purchase as we found stall after stall and thought that maybe this one had better stuff than the last.

  5. Vincent says:

    What on earth do YOU do with an entire pineapple. I’m a pretty good cook and can find a use for most everything. Pineapple though, once I’ve mixed about a slice worth into whatever dish I’m making, the rest lives in the fridge laughing at me ’til it starts to decompose.

    For what it’s worth, I spent many years living in London. Notting Hill to be precise. And it’s not the museums, the markets, galleries that I remember most fondly. it’s wandering down Portobello rd market or sitting reading my Observer near the Electric Cinema.

    • Emily says:

      I eat it, of course! Cut it up into cubes and just eat the fruit or add it to a smoothie.

      • Vincent says:

        Do you not find them a bit too acidic. The ones we get on these islands would strip paint.

        • Emily says:

          Nope, but that would probably be the difference between tropical fruit in a Mediterranean climate and tropical fruit in a near-Arctic climate.

          • Vincent says:

            Hmm, possibly.
            Are they being harvested in Chile as we speak or have they to ship them in. You being in mid-winter an all. Ours come from Kenya, the Caribbean, Oz and for some unknown reason Hawaii.

          • Emily says:

            I’m not sure where the latest pineapple came from, but I have always felt that imported fruit in England isn’t as good as imported fruit in California or Chile. Maybe I’m biased, or maybe you just don’t really like pineapple.

  6. Sydney says:

    Oh so jealous that $23 US got you all that!!! Also find it interesting that a farmer’s market in Chile is less expensive than supermarkets since it’s the reverse in the US.

    Also – Brian and I have been exploring eggs from truly “pasture raised” chickens recently, which is perhaps the equivalent of free range in Chile…? Free range here just means they have a tiny little door they can go out once they’re a certain age and of course they don’t actually do. Anyway, long story short we tried eggs from pasture raised chickens recent and holy moly they are a different beast! We couldn’t believe how dark yellow/orange-y the yolks are and how good they taste! They’re pretty hard to find (only one hippie co-op grocery store in SF or our CSA have them) and tey’re expensive but especially now that Brian’s read Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal Liberation, we think it’s worth it :-)

    • Emily says:

      Here the literal translation is “eggs from the countryside.” I have to admit I don’t know the specifics of the eggs we bought yesterday, but in general, huevos del campo are from chickens that live what I would consider a family farm lifestyle, where they are out and about and have a coop to go into at night.

      Farmers’ markets in the Bay Area are the kind of thing where you pay for the experience of talking to the producers and getting better quality products whereas here they’re still just a normal part of life where things are cheaper because you’re cutting out some of the middlemen.

  7. Those eggs are so pretty! Up until a couple of years ago I didn’t even know that eggs could be any other color than white. I was strolling through the Union Square Market in NYC and I saw green and blue eggs and flipped out. Haha! Why would anyone want a white egg when they can have a blue egg?

  8. Angie says:

    Love it! I totally eat so much more fruits and veggies now that I’m down here. I love that it’s so cheap for fresh veggies.

    • Emily says:

      Oh, I wish I could say the same. I enjoy the low prices and good quality – although being from California I’ve always been relatively spoiled in terms of quality produce – but I could definitely do to eat more veggies.

  9. Heather says:

    Yum! I’m hungry, hehe. Unlike you, I do prefer food shopping to shoe shopping, haha. The Vega Central was a little slice of heaven for me. hahaha.

    Yesterday, here in Spokane, Washington, my present home, I bought produce as well. It was an interesting experience! I did it through a co-op. I got the organic box, that costs $26.50. It wasn’t very big, but still cheaper than the supermarket. But the people who got the regular produce for $16.50, actually got quite a lot! Like two laundry baskets full. Probably comparable to what you got minus the eggs! It made me so happy to see you CAN buy produce for reasonable prices here in the States! You just REALLY have to work at it. And you don’t get to choose the items, a higher-up in the co-op does that.

    • Emily says:

      I’ve got some friends in the US who do these CSA boxes (that’s what they’re called, right?) and really like it. I alternate between thinking it would be a great way to make myself try new kinds of produce and thinking that I’d just end up wasting a lot of things if they weren’t my favorites.

      • Heather says:

        CSA boxes are different. My understanding is that Community Supported Agriculture is more of a subscription thing. I believe it’s better for the local community, but there’s more risk involved. I think you buy a subscription at the beginning of the season, and then you get a box a week until harvest is over I guess. But if the farm does poorly, you won’t get good items.

        I’m participating with a co-op called bountiful baskets. I just have to buy my box Monday or Tuesday and then I go pick it up at the crack of dawn Saturday. The commitment is weekly. You can choose to buy produce or not each week, depending on if you’ll use it, or you’ll be around to pick it up, etc. Also the produce is bought from all over, (mostly Mexico and the States). Whereas I think CSA produce is local.

        It’s a non-profit though. So all the money goes toward the produce and the transportation. So we’re cutting out the middleman.

        It’s nice to have this option though. Produce is so expensive here!

        • Emily says:

          So many different options now in the US. Thanks for explaining the difference – I for some reason just assumed a co-op was like a CSA program.

  10. Robin says:

    This is my favorite part about living in Moscow now, the weekend Farmer’s markets and the weekday produce stands– I love it!

    • Emily says:

      For some reason in my head Moscow is a frozen tundra with no produce except some wilted carrots and a turnip or two. Hello, stereotypes. I’m glad to hear that’s not the case!

  11. Colin says:

    Once you start eating Huevos del Campo…especially the good ones like you got there that are from the Araucana Hen..you’ll never be happy with a supermarket egg for as long as you live.

    • Emily says:

      It’s true, they really do just taste better. Plus I justified splurging on the huevos del campo because we had saved money on the rest of our produce (vs. supermarket prices).

  12. kim says:

    whew! that looks gorgeous and delicious!

  13. Isabel says:

    I know that 11 mil for all of that now is a good deal, but I think about maybe even a year ago here or a really good summer day at la vega and it seems a bit steep to me. Then agian, last time I was at Lider Express palta was 2.600 a kilo and lemon was something outrageously high, especially when compared to the 250 pesos a kilo that used to be at every market.

    It seems that prices of almost everything are going up lately (boo)

    • Emily says:

      Hass avocados are $2.900/kilo at my Lider, and they were over $3.000 at one stall at this feria! Food prices are high all over the world right now, and we’ve definitely seen the difference in our grocery bill.

  14. Great post! I love the photos.

  15. Ceri says:

    “The answer, of course, is that I can lighten the hell up and realize that it’s just a blog, not the fate of the free world which is resting in my hands.” – You’re actually hilarious.

    I absolutely adore markets and food fairs. All of that food look delicious. So vibrant and colourful. Love it. :D

    • Emily says:

      Ha, I try :) But yes, I tend to take things a bit too seriously, so I’m trying to work on that.

      And the food WAS delicious – can’t wait to see what kind of produce you get in Mexico.

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