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Merida Costco Invaded by Gringo Marauders

CostcoWe had heard the whispers among the other foreigners living here in the Yucatan. There was a Costco, and we would have to go. Now, back in the States, our Costco usage was pretty limited to stocking up after an apartment move…buying 100 rolls of toilet paper, for example, so you could once and for all strike that from your list of Things to Worry About. We have never been really into bulk food purchases, in part because we have always had tiny apartment refrigerators. And while the same is doubly true at our rental house in Progreso (the freezer is just a drawer inside the main fridge compartment), we were interested in a Costco membership to see what kinds of foods from the US we could find that were unavailable elsewhere.

Jillian got the membership last week, for 400 pesos, and today, we hit it. Hard. We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t buy things that we could get in neighborhood markets…this was purely a trip to find the things we were missing from our old lives. (If I ever move back to the States, I wonder how I will satisfy my cravings for cochinita pibil and fresh corn tortillas? Oh well, we’ll worry about that later.) Among the haul of things we found at Costco that we simply couldn’t find anywhere else:

  • Three pounds of Brown n’ Serve breakfast sausage: Salchichas por desayuno. These alone have filled our freezer.
  • Two pounds of roast beef: Pretty low quality stuff, but it IS roast beef.
  • One gallon of Best Foods mayonnaise: Frequent readers will know of our mayonnaise heartache. I even wrote a poem about mayonnaise that some friends smuggled in for us a while back.
  • One honkin’ block of sharp cheddar cheese: Not to mention another pound of pepper muenster, and the biggest ball of mozzarella you’ve ever seen. I had to talk Jillian down from the entire wheel of brie.
  • One gallon of fresh milk: This is easy to find in Merida. However, in Progreso, even the big Bodega Aurerra is only selling grey shelf milk.
  • 96 Nature Valley granola bars: Assorted flavors.

Oh, and you had better believe there was more. We spent more on food in this one trip than we have in any other single shopping trip here, but we probably won’t need to buy food for, oh, two months. Among the other items we considered and passed on, but noted due to their unavailability anywhere else:

  • Costco brand tuna, which seems to be similar to the tuna in America, and not the brown mess sold in cans here.
  • Folger’s Coffee: That big red drum is oddly comforting, in spite of being pretty bad coffee when compared to what’s available locally.
  • An American cereal assortment: Zucaritas are a fine substitute for Frosted Flakes (they even have Tony the Tiger on them), but sometimes you’ve just gotta have a Frosted Mini Wheat.

Oddly absent from the Merida Costco? Samples. And it was a shame, because we arrived HUNGRY. It is surprising that in a country so seemingly sample-mad, this was missing from Costco, the North American Sample Kings. A walk through Costco in America means being assaulted with Bagel Bites (which, presumably, you will never have tried and enjoy SO MUCH that you will be inspired to buy a crate of them) and tiny paper cups of soup. Hell, a walk through a supermarket in Merida means you can fill up on a free assortment of ham, a slice of chocolate cake, and a shot of vodka to wash it down. But somehow, these two cultures aren’t coming together the way they should. It’s perplexing, but perhaps our visit at midday on a Wednesday is to blame.

All in all, we are now officially happy to report that there is not one food item that we are missing from the States that we simply can’t find here. Shopping here is more of a day-long, leisurely event…you go to different stores to find the different things you need, you take your time, and you shop around. But at the end of the day, you’re not going without. Except for maybe bagels.

There Are 8 Responses So Far. »

  1. Skippy Crunchy.

    Pretzels.

    Don’t knock the bagel bite samples.

  2. I sense a business opportunity.

    Bagel, anyone?

  3. The Costco in Queretaro has bagels but you have to buy about 18 in a package. I think you must have hit a bad day or time because the one in QTR does have samples. We just have to make a run to Costco periodically for toilet paper and wine. LOL

  4. breakfast sausage? you found breakfast sausage? where do they keep it?I keep looking and I haven’t seen it, do you think maybe I just don’t remember what breakfast sausage looks like?. If you want to meet extranjeros in Merida hang out at Costco and Home Depot.

    Theresa

  5. Matt: Still no Skippy Super Chunk, but we DID score about a gallon of Skippy Creamy. SO not the same, but a step up from the Mexican brands, which I am pretty sure is a mixture of ground peanuts and granulated sugar. And as for Bagel Bites…the memory of having 96 racks of them in our freezer has put me off for a while. :)

    Nancy & Billie: We are thinking about starting a small business here…anyone with bagel making skills is welcome to apply.

    Theresa: It’s definitely there, and we now have more than we could ever possibly eat. Perhaps we should host a Sunday brunch. In the meantime, here’s the map. When you are standing in the fresh produce section (in the corner, by the natural foods but BEFORE you get into soda and paper products), face the freezer aisles. The sausage you seek is in the second row to the right, on the right hand side, nearest your end of the aisle. Godspeed.

  6. God bless Costco and the USA!

    Mom

  7. Oh, I forgot to thank you! I also now have over a kilo of breakfast sausage in my freezer! Yeah! My husband and son say thank you too!

    Theresa

  8. Saturday is sample day at Costco (and Mega Balcones). Costco also has Maple syrup! You can get almost everything American (and more!)that Costco carries but in reasonable sizes at the Mega Balcones, which is my favorite grocery store(it’s located at Circuito & 60th). They’ve even started carrying fresh Mexican milk (and real cream -not crema) there sometimes. They also have every kind of imported cheese there is -I bought Gruyere there last week- and also the butcher department has the BEST bacon ever (it looks gross though -all grey) (Oooh -have you seen the bright green chorizo yet by the way?) Walmart also sells half gallons of fresh milk, if you don’t mind shopping there politically. email me any time if you wanna know where to find something.

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