I am the "güero". The gringo, if you prefer. The white guy...that's me. The one that sweats at the thought of jalapeño. This made my first trip to Northgate Market an experience in disorientation.
When I arrived in Los Angeles I settled in little corner of the city between the largely black community of Inglewood and largely white community of Culver City. My new community is neither of those and there isn't a Ralphs or a Vons within walking distance. Northgate Market is across the street. It is not for the güero.
Fortunately I can read Spanish well enough.
There were frijoles negro, pico de gallo, chiccarones, tubs of lard, tortillas stacked to the ceiling, an unrecognizable array of meats including chicken seasoned and with peppers to make fajitas, limes and avacodas in every corner. There was a tortilla making operation in the back. The bakery sold pan caliento. A women sat in a booth where you could send money to Mexico.
I stood out like a gringo thumb in a sea of ladies yelling in Spanish as they bumped and bruised their ways to the front of the butcher line. I nearly tripped on a lime that had tumbled out of the massive bins. I couldn't find a frozen pizza or a Pace Picante in jar (not that I would have bought it for fear of insulting those making fresh salsa at the other end of the store).
In the end, I quickly bought a bag of tortilla chips and a pint of pico de galle and zipped back across the street where I belonged.