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Dollar belly filler

Ed searches for a meal that costs a single buck

Carlos chooses my $1 lunch
Carlos chooses my $1 lunch
Place

Frutas Las Delicias

1015 25th Street, San Diego

Can a feller fill a belly for a dollar in this town?

Just ask Carlos. That’s what I did, because that’s all I had. Exactly one Washington in the pocket, eaten nothing all day, had to last three more hours.

I was up here in Golden Hill. Thought my goose was cooked on this one, as you might say. But I noticed a little lean-to shop at the end of a strip mall at 25th and Broadway. It has a sloping tile roof and a hot dog place attached which is closed.

Carlos has had his fruit stand for 24 years

But in the main stall I saw two things: bunch of fruits, loads of sodas, and Carlos Negrete. I remembered he’d helped me out once before when I’d been light on the lettuce.

“What can I get to eat for a dollar?” I ask. “I mean something to fill me.” It helps to have a little Spanish with Carlos. He’s been here 25 years, he says, but mostly sticks to la idioma. He looks over his display. It’s mostly fruit, with some interesting veggies like guaje, which is long flat seed pods with flat pip seeds in them. “It’s from southern Mexico,” he says. “It’s basically for cooking with pork, or for making a salsa, but you can also peel the seeds out raw and just put salt on them. Here.”

He peels back the end of a foot-long pod. I pick out two or three seeds and start chewing. Hmm. Tastes like a cactus paddle, maybe, or a mint-like herb he brings out and rubs in his finger. He says it’s called epazote which means “skunk” in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs), because it smells so strongly. Goes great with, like, black beans. They say it’s great for reducing their gassy effects, too.

“So how much for the guaje,” I ask.

“You could buy 1/3rd of a pound for $1. That would be a lot of guaje,” he says.

That’s the thing here. Carlos has been here 24 years and has all kinds of interesting herbs and veggies and fruit, right here on the sidewalk. I can see strange-shaped melons, nectarines, grapes, peanuts in their shells, mangos, peaches. “Any of these would keep you going for a while,” he says. Hmm. Peanuts, but all that cracking. Mangos I love, but the mess.

“Here,” he says. “One dollar.”

He’s holding a nice, big, red nectarine in one hand and a banana in the other.

Deal. Mmm. Nectarine’s luscious, and the banana palliates the taste.

So yeah, sticky fingers but full stomach, at least for the moment. Plus I’ve learned so much. Mostly about how much I don’t know about Mexican food.

Next time, a dollar’s worth of guaje.

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Carlos chooses my $1 lunch
Carlos chooses my $1 lunch
Place

Frutas Las Delicias

1015 25th Street, San Diego

Can a feller fill a belly for a dollar in this town?

Just ask Carlos. That’s what I did, because that’s all I had. Exactly one Washington in the pocket, eaten nothing all day, had to last three more hours.

I was up here in Golden Hill. Thought my goose was cooked on this one, as you might say. But I noticed a little lean-to shop at the end of a strip mall at 25th and Broadway. It has a sloping tile roof and a hot dog place attached which is closed.

Carlos has had his fruit stand for 24 years

But in the main stall I saw two things: bunch of fruits, loads of sodas, and Carlos Negrete. I remembered he’d helped me out once before when I’d been light on the lettuce.

“What can I get to eat for a dollar?” I ask. “I mean something to fill me.” It helps to have a little Spanish with Carlos. He’s been here 25 years, he says, but mostly sticks to la idioma. He looks over his display. It’s mostly fruit, with some interesting veggies like guaje, which is long flat seed pods with flat pip seeds in them. “It’s from southern Mexico,” he says. “It’s basically for cooking with pork, or for making a salsa, but you can also peel the seeds out raw and just put salt on them. Here.”

He peels back the end of a foot-long pod. I pick out two or three seeds and start chewing. Hmm. Tastes like a cactus paddle, maybe, or a mint-like herb he brings out and rubs in his finger. He says it’s called epazote which means “skunk” in Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs), because it smells so strongly. Goes great with, like, black beans. They say it’s great for reducing their gassy effects, too.

“So how much for the guaje,” I ask.

“You could buy 1/3rd of a pound for $1. That would be a lot of guaje,” he says.

That’s the thing here. Carlos has been here 24 years and has all kinds of interesting herbs and veggies and fruit, right here on the sidewalk. I can see strange-shaped melons, nectarines, grapes, peanuts in their shells, mangos, peaches. “Any of these would keep you going for a while,” he says. Hmm. Peanuts, but all that cracking. Mangos I love, but the mess.

“Here,” he says. “One dollar.”

He’s holding a nice, big, red nectarine in one hand and a banana in the other.

Deal. Mmm. Nectarine’s luscious, and the banana palliates the taste.

So yeah, sticky fingers but full stomach, at least for the moment. Plus I’ve learned so much. Mostly about how much I don’t know about Mexican food.

Next time, a dollar’s worth of guaje.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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