March 27, 2009

Sausage and Cheese Vendor, Mendoza Gas Station

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We set out one morning to drive around the countryside surrounding Mendoza.  No fixed plan, no itinerary.  Stopping at a busy gas station, we saw the requisite stray dogs milling around the door leading to the convenience store, looking hopeful.  Gypsies sat on low cinder-block walls, wearing long, brightly colored skirts and  matching scarves in their upswept hair.

And there was this man, the traveling man's friend, an unpretentious entrepreneur.  He stood outside the gas station selling wedges of sharp flavorful cheese and cuts of salami out of his basket.  Using the flat part of the basket's handle to balance the huge wheels of cheese while he cuts it, he then drops it into a battered handheld metal scale to weigh.  

Dogs stand nearby, close enough for a scrap but not too close, carefully watching the customers.  The man, with his rent-free, mobile office and unfixed hours, sells sandwich stuffs to a couple on a motorcycle, who tuck the meal into a backpack.  Guillermo orders some cheese, then salami, hungry as he always is for tastes of home.  It is simplicity itself, and as the man wraps our lunch in white paper, we thank him, and are ready to be on our way.  No health department permit and no business license, for this man, freedom is a basket of salami and cheese.

Antoine de St. Exupery said, "He who would travel happily must travel light."  This man made happy travelers of us, indeed.

More photos on my flickr photostream, From Argentina With Love.

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4 Responses to “Sausage and Cheese Vendor, Mendoza Gas Station”

  1. These are the type of travel experiences to treasure, the small moments, the one-on-one contact, and, yes, the food. Lovely story.

  2. I like that quote. A wonderful way to travel.
    Paz

  3. Rebecca,
    i fear you’ll have to change the title of your posting about the ñoquis, the ñ is preventing comments to be posted as i’m getting a “page not found error” when i click on “comments”.
    Ciao!
    Flavio
    PS: selling food at the gas station or while people are queuing at the toll station in the motorways is also very common in Mexico. I remember buying some excellent homemade bread (pan de nata) on the way back from Michoacan, almost two years ago.

  4. Oh, I had the same problem! I tried several times but kept getting the error too… I only wanted to comment that everything sounded delicious and wished that you had posted a picture of the gnocchi! But this street vendors food looks delicious too

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