San Miguel de Allende -- groceries?
My family and I will soon be headed to SM for 4 to 6 months. I've got a pretty good idea from this board about restaurants, but I'm wondering about grocery shopping. My experience in most Mexican cities is that the mercados are full of good, cheap fresh produce and meat, and those big Mexican supermarkets have at least as much stuff as a Safeway. But what kind of stuff CAN'T you get? I'm mainly interested in two categories of food that I suspect are difficult or impossible to find -- Asian food and "health" food.
I'm lactose intolerant so I can't drink regular milk. Any hope of finding soy milk, rice milk or lactose-free milk? And we've resigned ourselves to having little or no Asian food while we're in Mexico, but we would like to cook some occasionally. Any hope of finding things like mung beans (to make sprouts), oyster sauce, five spice powder, hoisin sauce, coconut milk, soy sauce, rice flour, fresh ginger, etc. anywhere near SM, or should we just mail ourselves a big box of stuff? I know there are a couple of Chinese and Thai restaurants in SM; they must get their supplies from somewhere?
Any advice on this or any other aspect of living in SM would be more than welcome. Thanks!
Just thought I'd add that someone on the civilSMA list posted this recently:
A lot of Asian style foods are available here - I have bought coconut milk at
Bonanza. Bonanza has almost all herbs and spices, couscous, lots of kinds of
flour. Various types of asian sauces are available - soy, oyster, fish, sesame
oil, wasabi. Ditto rice noodles, rice wraps (those transparent kinds,) nori for
sushi, panko bread crumbs. Bonanza has thai curries. Jasmine and sushi rice are
in several locations. I don't know about Indian garam masala, haven't looked for
it. You can get most kinds of cheeses here, between Costco, Bonanza and the
regular stores like Mega and Soriana. These stores also have lebanese type foods
like hummus, pita, jojoque, garbanzos. Natura on Calle Nuevo has turkish=style
yogurt and goat milk.
You'll find a relatively new, very posh MEGA supermarket on the south side of San Miguel. It's huge. Soy milk is there in abundance. I think Rice Dream will also be available.
Mung bean sprouts, yes. Fresh ginger, yes. Coconut milk, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, yes. Hoisin sauce, probably. Five spice powder and rice flour, no: bring some. Bring Szechuan peppercorns, if you use those.
There's another store in SMA called Bonanza that often has 'exotic' items that you don't find elsewhere in town.
I feel certain that the Chinese and Thai restaurants in SMA get their supplies from Mexico City and/or Guadalajara, where there are Asian food providers.
And for heaven's sake don't try to mail yourself any kind of food products--they would undoubtedly be confiscated by the Aduana (customs).
You'll also want to bring a package of fermented black beans, if you use those. I've only ever seen them for sale in Mexico City.
In my late 20s, I was a Chinese chef in a restaurant in New York, specializing in Szechuan and Hunan cuisines. I still prepare Chinese meals two or three times a week, here in Mexico. Yes, it's weird but true!
Thanks for your kind words, JoyM.