By Cynthia Ord
As valuable backpacker bartering material, good peanut butter is up there with massages and rolling papers. If you’re looking for peanut butter in Xela, the last place to go is the Dispensa supermarket. All you’ll find is some highly-processed sticky stuff containing plenty of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. For local, all-natural, homemade peanut butter, stop by any of these three locations:
Blue Angel: On the counter of Blue Angel restaurant among the oatmeal cookies, souvenir chocolate, and postcards, look for 8oz plastic containers of “Peanut Butter Angel” for Q15. The product is made locally and contains one ingredient: peanuts. It maintains its creamy consistency without separating, and spreads nicely. It’s perfect on slices of apples, pears, bananas, or celery. The only problem is the small size – you’ll be scraping the bottom in no time.
Bake Shop: Bake Shop is the Mecca of home-style baked goods in Xela. The cookies, cupcakes, donuts, granola, and banana bread are some other good reasons to make the pilgrimage to 18 avenida. At the back of the store you’ll find the peanut butter, all-natural and homemade by the mysterious Mennonites. At Q22 for a 16oz jar, it’s a good bargain. The downside: Bake Shop is only open on Tuesdays and Fridays. Get there early, as many items sell out.
Vrisa bookstore: First prize for best peanut butter in Xela goes to Esmeralda Mantequilla de Mani. The price is Q32 for a 16oz jar, and you can choose between crunchy and smooth. Ingredients: 98% peanuts, sugar, and salt. Stir vigorously upon opening. The best part about the product is that it’s socially beneficial. The product is made by a cooperative of women called Ixmucané in the Valle La Esmeralda in Petén, and proceeds go to the women’s community development projects. Recipe idea: on the same shelf is Q20 jelly from Casa Doña Flor, another cooperative in Totonicapan. Flavors include mango and sauco (elderberry!). Make yourself a PB&J and it may be the most socially conscious sandwich you will ever sink your teeth into.
Herbivore’s tip: for another great non-animal protein source, find Pedro at El Infinito internet café. He will sell you tofu or cook you an amazing vegetarian snack.