Sunday, April 5, 2009

How about a smoothie?

After my Friday oil change, I visited Rancho Liborio, a delightful supermarket run by and for Hispanics. Objective: mango smoothie.

I entered and looked around. The store was swarming with Spanish-speaking families with young children. The scene resembled a Mardi gras parade that was winding through the aisles until it backed up at the cashier stations.

The juice bar was directly in front of me, but I needed to soak up the atmosphere first. Turning right, I went into the produce section and marveled at the heaping displays of fruits: bananas, limes, nectarines, oranges, and a kind of huge lumpy yellow fruit (a hyper-mango?). The vegetable racks boasted a dozen different varieties of peppers including, no doubt, peppers that would instantly char a gringo palate. I made my way through a flock of laughing youngsters en route to the bakery. After a quick perusal of the spacious pastry cabinet and then the adjacent stretch of fresh meat displays, I returned to the juice bar ready to do business.

A short, plump matron came to the counter to take my order. I asked for a fruit drink. She smiled and replied something about water in Spanish. Evidently, she had no English whatsoever. Unfortunately, my small command of Spanish instantly failed me. I couldn't remember the Spanish word for drink (bebida) or soda (refresco). I thought about asking for a smoothie, but feared that the sound of the word "smoothie" might strike her as indecent. A lot of racy words have that double-o sound, such as "smooch" or "hoochy-coo" or "whoopie". I didn't want to be misunderstood and cause an international incident. So, lacking any better idea, I repeated my initial question but rearranged the word order: "Do you have drinks made of fruit?"

She brightened and said, "Ah, fruta." She pointed to the other side of the juice bar and bade me follow. There I found the fruit bins for pineapple, watermelon, mango, and strawberries. I couldn't think of the Spanish word for mango. (Yes, it's "mango".) The watermelon bin was nearest at hand. I pointed at it. She nodded and began filling a tall plastic cup with watermelon chunks. We returned to the front of the juice bar, where the blender was located. However, she simply snapped a lid on the cup of watermelon and then rang up the bill for $1.75. I paid it, said gracias, and slunk away with my watermelon chunks.

A subsequent search on the internet clarified everything. The juice lady had originally asked if I wanted an "agua fresca". According to Wikipedia: Spanish for fresh (cold) water and signifying a combination of either fruits, cereals, or seeds, and sugar and water, blended together to make a refreshing beverage.

I vow to someday return to Rancho Liborio armed with this knowledge and successfully order the "agua fresca de mango" that I crave.