bottles of wine The required wine alone would have represented 2,000 lbs. in weight.

Move to Mexico meant preparing for hardship

A slow weaning-off process seemed the best course to do without some key food items

Twelve years ago, as I planned my move to Mexico, I knew from experience that certain items we seem to require in a perfect life are either not available in Mexico or priced into the stratosphere due to shipping and import costs.

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To be able to the weather this sudden dearth of things I took for granted in the States, I realized I had only two options, cold turkey or the gradual tapering off of my objects of desire.

Since most items I was about to leave behind were foodstuffs, going cold turkey would mean checking into some type of vegan rehab facility where I would subsist on bean sprouts, crusty bread and tofu for several agonizing weeks. But that was definitely out of the question.

So I went for option no. 2: the slow weaning process that would gradually settle me into a culture that would hopefully bring new delights to quell my panicking palate.

One snowy morning, while contemplating my move to Mexico, I was kick-starting the hamster with an excellent cup of very fresh, oily bean, French roast coffee. It struck me at mid-sip; locating a source for great coffee in Mexico could be a long and futile quest.

I thought back to previous trips to Mexico, cruising the aisles of many a tienda only to find instant coffee, most of it with sugar added. A quick search on the net told me Mexico City had boutique coffee roasters, but living in that smoggy quagmire of humanity would be a price too high to pay for decent coffee.

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I would simply pack enough coffee to cover several months of severe withdrawal in order to extirpate the demons of caffeine. This approach seemed reasonable enough; coffee doesn’t weigh much and I could vacuum-pack whole beans and grind them as needed.

It was then the wine dilemma dawned on me: it weighs much more than coffee and would take up a lot of space.

When I calculated the weight of a conservative amount of wine required for a reasonable period of declining consumption, it was over 2,000 pounds. I then knew I had a serious conflict between a pragmatic approach to packing and suitable lifestyle support.

I still had not thought about things like fresh horseradish, real peanut butter, gravenstein apple sauce, basmati rice, some type of cheese other than bland white, good pastries, real yogurt and well . . . you get the idea.

During my first couple of years here, when friends would offer to bring me something from the States, I would stoically decline the offer, pleading my need to live the simple life of a peon.

Within two years of my arrival, a gourmet coffee roaster set up shop in town. This came just as I was on my last vacuum-packed bag of dark roast beans. About this same time I started seeing Argentine wines in one of the large supermarkets; my life improved immediately.

Also, I have come to my senses and no longer wish to live the minimalist life of a peon. For years now I have shamelessly used my friends as common mules. Overweight luggage? Extra bag charge? No problem, just get it to Mexico; I will pay whatever the exorbitant cost as long as it packed with Adams 100% peanut butter, some real cheese and fresh horseradish.

I take little for granted these days and feel exceptionally fortunate when I have a sandwich made with smuggled peanut butter, or a cup of good coffee from a local roaster. It always tastes a little better than it ever did north of the border.

As I bask in the contented satisfaction that my life in Mexico is quite complete, I have come to the realization that I could never live in the States again without a far greater sense of loss than was engendered when I came south 11 years ago. With all that being said, I really hope Trader Joes comes to Mexico.

Bodie Kellogg describes himself as a very middle-aged man who lives full-time in Mazatlán with a captured tourist woman and the ghost of a half wild dog. If you wish to give him cold beer, large sacks of money or a piece of your mind, he can be reached at buscardero@yahoo.com.

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  • rojawi

    What kind of ivory tower do you live in? Good coffee, wine, cheeses, peanut butter and most of the other things you mentioned are easily acquired in Mexico.

    • iskinder

      He may be living in a very small and isolated town….

      • Epazote

        Its called living in a bubble. Many of Mr. Kellogg’s stories have been amusing reading, I really enjoy them and hope he is not discouraged by today’s criticism. But sometimes, like today, they do sound a bit too patronizing and condescending. This story is more an expose of his inability to adapt to other brands besides Kraft, Heinz or, of course, Kelloggs.
        There is an abundance of really good cheeses here. Mind you, outside of the American chain stores there is very little of that orange dyed waxy stuff they call cheese NOB, or those cheesy plastic by products sold at Costco. Mexico is very different from 20 years ago and they now sell fabulous domestic and imported wines and a plethora of the tastiest domestic and imported fruits and veggies I have ever seen. Thank NAFTA for that. Coffee ranges from bottled instant to Starbucks, to the plumpest fresh roasted domestic “Alto” beans still hot from the roaster. Did I forget to mention really top notch restaurants?
        I recall over 20 years ago working in Arizona and the only wine(?) available there was a bottle of very dusty Baby Duck. I also recall being astounded to see a man carefully feeling for the plumpest iceberg lettuce, the only variety available there (plastic wrapped of course). To this day I do not understand why he felt the need to wear a twin holster of loaded pistols to squeeze lettuce.
        Maybe I respectfully suggest sir that you broaden your horizons and stop shopping at Walmarts?

        • pedrochapala

          jajajaja! beauty!

  • zihuarob

    We grow some of the best coffee in the world here in Mexico. What kind of coffee snob are you? I’ve lived here for 28 years and there’s not a DAMN thing I miss about the States except all the self-righteous assholes!

    • Thomas Myslik

      Pretty strange story. I lived in San Miguel de Allende last year with no problems getting most anything. He lives in Matzalan? Costco, Sam’s Club, etc

    • Cool Hand Luke

      You know that you calling him one, makes you one.

    • TioDon

      Bravo! I agree…

  • stobs

    Seriously, best coffee in the world is grown in Mexico. Also, I hope that Trader Joe’s DOESN’T come to Mexico and if the author were in touch with his community and Mexican neighbors, he’d discover that they, too, don’t want more American transnational corporations to take further root in their country. Their is currently a massive boycott underway of American products and chains.

    • rob smith

      What no more English muffins or bagels. Holy crap.

      • Tom Mayer

        These kind of items you can learn how to make in fifteen minutes or less on YouTube. I don’t like the bread here in Costa Rica so I make these for myself. I am retired so I learn to make a lot of what I would buy in the USA because I can. But my skill at cooking was my first art form followed later in my life, it was pottery.

      • Plenty of bagels and English muffins available in Morelia.

  • gaymex1

    You can get anything you want in Mexico, including excellent fresh roasted coffee. Cheeses, wines, peanut butter–It’s all here. Someone needs to take you shopping. If you can’t get it in Mexico, you need to rethink what you’re requirements are. Also you might want to think about how condescending that “peon” crack was.

    • David Nichols

      Mostly true, and the selection of goat cheeses is unequaled…
      That being said, you will have to look long and hard to find Extra Sharp Tillamook Cheddar here, and that ranks up there with the best in the world of Cheddars…
      Sadly, Mexico does not yet have an aged cheddar market, somewhat akin to their paucity of pickles…

      • gaymex1

        I do agree with that. You have to hunt for Tillamook Cheddar…but it is here…yum, a good sharp cheddar is hard to beat and now I’m getting hungry just thinking about goat cheeses. I guess it’s time for a trip to Merida tomorrow.

      • cruz_ctrl

        often available at costco and on occasion have found it at mega

  • Geraldhall

    It’s all true. If you like purchasing peanut butter that is loaded with hydrogenated oil, then yes you can get peanut butter in Mexico. It’s not peanut butter it’s disgusting. Great story and I’ve shared the same grief even with items from Costco. (Hummus for example does not need Soybean oil) They have extremely unhealthy additives in many things we take for granted.

    • TioDon

      Then go back to the toilet that is America….and quit using “We” because ” We” are very happy here.

      • Geraldhall

        The ‘we’ referred to is us, not you. Happiness wasn’t mentioned, and I’m not from the US. Presumptive assumptions are always a problem.

        • TioDon

          You are correct….lo siento. i will say that having “grief” because the hummus has GMO soybean oil in it is silly. And what is the deal about peanut butter? My assumption that you were American is because those are things that Americans think are so important.

          • David Nichols

            TioDon…again with the broad, dare I say, racist categorization of one of the most widely diverse groups of paisanos on the planet…
            Americans come in all shapes, sizes, ethnic backgrounds and attitudes…they are much more genetically diverse than Mexicans and as a result, they cannot fairly be assumed to share traits you clearly do not like…
            Some are pendejos, yes…
            I have found that trait exists in Mexico as well…

          • TioDon

            Ahhhhh, the mandatory “racist” accusation from a lib. Didn’t you forget “Nazi”? So predictable and so boring!

          • David Nichols

            Lib..?? Now that is a laugh…
            Try to address what I wrote, versus your “predictable and boring” ad hominem attacks.
            Do you pretend that “gringo” is not a perjorative??
            Your “assumption” that someone concerned with the quality of peanut butter MUST be an American, brands you as incautious at best, and predisposed to negatively categorize people based on flimsy evidence…
            If you cannot recognize the diversity of Americans, and you are lumping them all in the same basket, perhaps you have persuaded yourself it is true…
            If that is the case, no discussion of the facts would matter to you, which makes you what…?

    • Good peanut butter in a jar, the kind that has only peanuts and salt and with the oil floating on top, is the sole thing I used to enjoy above the Rio Bravo that I cannot find in Mexico. Small price to pay, however.

    • gaymex1

      Please. How much trouble is it to make your own peanut butter if that’s what you want. I do and it’s better than what’s available anywhere. If you can’t find good butter, look harder. It’s here.

      • pedrochapala

        i get butter made in mazamitla in the chapala mercada. proper european style cultured butter far superior to the usual shit like kirkland brand from the excited states or the standard mexican brands

        • gaymex1

          lol. “excited states” .
          I get my butter, also cultured, from a local farm. Delicious. If you’re into it, it’s really not that much trouble to make butter yourself if you access to fresh milk. I agree house brands, like Kirkland, aren’t that great. They do have “yellow” going for them though.

          • pedrochapala

            i’m going to make a repair on mi moto now and then tomorrow return to making a cabinet for the greatroom no time to make butter especially when our source is so good and it does have a bit of colour to it and no damn salt which means you can actually taste it’s butteriness.

  • rob smith

    The Guatemalan coffee in Sam’s club is pretty good and also cheap 139
    pesos kilo. I think Chilean wines which are available are better than
    French, particularly Chardonnay and once again cheap.

    We have taken to making dishes from scratch as the raw ingredients
    are available. I am with you through the hardest adjustment to make in
    Mexico is to do without the cornucopia of quality food north of the
    border.

    Thanks God they carry decent imported butter here like Presidents. The Mexican butter I am convinced is lard dyed yellow.

    • TioDon

      Shut up!

      • Dan Tucker

        Hey Tio, Rob used the word ´cornucopia´ — that´s pretty impressive English. Maybe the ´Thanks´ was just a typo.

  • TioDon

    Shame on you for the foolishness you write and shame on Mexico Daily News for publishing it. Your insane comments meant to degrade Mexico only serve to confirm what a self entitled, self centered, spoiled American you are. Go back to wherever you came from and enjoy going to Trader Joe’s…….

    • Güerito

      I see what you did there. LOL

  • K. Chris C.

    Got to love the coffee.

    An American citizen, not US subject.

    • Happygirl

      WHAT?…A normal comment….oh, yeah…An American citizen, not US subject. Strike that.

  • SMS

    This is a silly opinion. No cheese or yogurt, wine, coffee in Mexico ? I can see a foolish Gringo writing this 11 years ago
    before moving, but still thinking this after living in Mexico for 11 years ? Are you living in a cave, speaking only English
    and watching CNN all day? Instant coffee with only sugar in it? What ? Are you sure you are even in Mexico ? The only thing missing from this article is a craving for McDonalds !

    • gaymex1

      lol…”craving for McDonalds”

    • Mary Ellen

      Hopefully he didn’t get paid for writing this incredulous so-called comment.

  • cooncats

    You can get pretty much anything you want from NOB here, the question is how much do you want to pay for it after fat taxes, import fees, border theft losses, lack of competition end up doubling the price?

    This is a protectionist country with a government full of thieves. Everyone pays dearly for that.

  • Nancy Coleman

    I haven’t experienced a shortage of any of these items in Puerto Vallarta. I’ve been going there since 1985. No shortage of anything that I can recall. Certainly not wine or cheese, coffee or peanut butter. Just not my experience in 32 years. Either he doesn’t know where to look or he’s making it up. I don’t know which.

  • Dbearas

    No good cheese in mx. Wow where have u been shopping

  • Louis Barbosa

    Wow where do you live or are you trolling us? I live in Ajijic a small village near Guadalajara and we have all those things and more. Excellent continental restaurants, also Japanese and Thai, Italian French, many with spectacular views or cozy romantic bistros. Almost all American brand names are available. Go to Costco or Sams or Mega or Walmart, Wines there are Argentine or Chilean or Mexican vintners or French for that matter. Coffee, well Mexico produces its own, but Colombian or Brazilian are also available, You need toget out a little.

  • World traveler

    Seriously? I just moved to Mexico City, and I have to say that I’m amazed with the variety of great food I can buy here. Besides wonder of fresh produce, coffee, grains and good quality meats, there is also a big varied of wines and spirits. I’m not American and I never really enjoy certain foods in the US, like cheese and coffee (Starbucks is terrible IMO).
    I guess it is a question of getting used to it.

    • From my experience most of the foods people have shipped in they shouldn’t eat anyway. Massively processed junk food. And yes, Starbucks is quite horrible.

  • tek man

    I thought it was illegal to bring any of the the items mentioned into Mexico without declaring them on the “Customs Declaration” and maybe paying duties or more then likely they will confiscate. I do know that Food is not allowed on board an American airline unless it is a fresh fruit or vege for personal consumption, no bulk quantities. From Mexico’s Customs Declaration sheet which everyone has to fill out when entering the country:

    “Infractions and Sanctions: Introduction into or extraction of goods from Mexico, using deceitful methods to hide items, when their imports and exports is prohibited, restricted or because foreign trade duties must be paid, will be punishable with fines ranging, to 70% to 100%, of the commercial value of the merchandise.” “Alcoholic beverages cannot be imported as part of duty free exemption.”

    I am sure you paid the duties on all items you had your friends import for you but it was illegal to take any of the items onto an American aircraft. Some could be purchased in duty free international airport but I think the cost would be prohibitive.

  • Walter James Murray

    I went to Brazil decades ago as a Peace Corps volunteer to a village in Bahia where everyday meals were beans and rice. The only rice I had ever eaten before was in rice pudding with a dash of cinnamon. And milk. It took a good three months to get used to it, but now feizuada is a treat. Get used to new foods.

  • Crewlaw

    Well, there are some adjustments to be made, but like anywhere else in the world that I’ve been, you weigh the pluses and the minuses and decide whether you like it here or not. After seventeen years in a small mountain farming town in northeastern Michoacan, I don’t really have any food issues anymore other than wishing I could call out for a decent pizza every now and then. Small price to pay for living in this climate and never having to “commute”.

  • David Nichols

    Sadly, not true…Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar, Black Wax, among the best in the world, but CityMarket, like many store stocks Joesphs Mild Cheddar as their offering of a cheddar cheese…it’s so mild as to barely qualify as cheddar, in my book…

  • Güerito

    Small (2-4 cup) coffee filters.

    Bug lights.

  • Güerito

    The weird thing is that this is written by a Gringo living in a huge tourist/ex-pat locale, and he gets arguments from other Gringos living in huge tourist/ex-pat locales.

    Both are being dishonest.

  • Commander Barkfeather

    Lava handsoap, White Castle, grits and sausage gravy, Shiner Bock beer, Nathan’s hotdogs, Camel non-filter cigarettes, Oreo Double-Stuf cookies, New York style anchovy pizza out of a 800-degree brick oven… Mexico is not the best place on earth to search for certain things. On the other hand, ask for Cajun food in North Dakota and you’ll probably get Blackened Fish Sticks. Learn to appreciate the here and now–I’m going out for a knish.

  • Yankeeflame

    Brodie,
    Keep your opinion columns coming as they’re one of the bright spots worth reading in the MND. I, being a seasoned traveler, “Not A Tourist”, to all of México, by automobile, some 40,000 + miles, since 1989, every year, visiting from 1week to 5 or 6 months in all areas of the country I can attest to your summary of past & present conditions.
    Years ago, in OAXACA, I once paid the equivalent of nearly $10:00 for a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter & a carton of Saltines that I presented to to 5 young native children as a Christmas Treat. I must say their parents indulged as well.
    Just to let you know, things were, “are”, as you say, & the things most of the 45 commentators say also represent Mexico Past & Pesent. It’s all just OPINION.
    P.S. My 1st foray into this VERY VERY interesting comment section of MÉXICO NEWS DAILY.

  • Dave Earle

    Hey Bodie, don’t know where in Mexico you moved to but I’ve been here 10 years and experienced nothing of what you are claiming. Exaggerations I think. Should have stayed in the US. There is almost nothing I miss. Great Mexican grown French Roast coffee and the people I know like their Chilean wines. I’m a beer guy so don’t care.

  • Mary Ellen

    Typical comment from the type of gringos that the rest of us expats would NOT come to Mexico and complain about everything. One reason I make a point to stay away from 99% of gringos; it’s depressing listening to them complain about everything here in Mexico.

  • It blows me away when people want “special” peanut butter. I used to buy Adams, now I put three cups of peanuts in the food processor and wait until it looks like Adams and then I put it in my old Adams jars which I saved. I haven’t bought peanut butter from a store in 6 years…. If you look at the ingredients of Adam’s Peanut butter you’ll see that it’s made from….. peanuts. You can a tad bit of salt if you like but it’s not necessary.

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