Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cold Cuts and Sound Systems - Supermarket Promotions

Enough of the political comments! What does a Canadian living in Mexico have to do with US politics anyway, you ask. Well as a citizen of the countries immediately to the north and south of the rogue elephant, it would behoove everyone to take an interest.

But of much greater significance is what I really want to ask in this post:

What is the relationship between sausages and sound systems?

If you have lived in Merida for a while, you have probably gone shopping at some point in one of the major supermarket chains like Comercial Mexicana, Chedraui, Carrefour (now extinct), SuperMaz, San Francisco, Bodega Aurrera and, most recently, Walmart de Mexico. And on one of those forays into the mazes of aisles and products, you have probably come upon that section of the store dedicated to the ever-popular cheeses and cold cuts.

These are special areas of the store that sell everything from the plastic, fluorescent orange queso americano to dubious (non lactose) versions of Oaxaca and Manchego cheese from brands with names like Deisi and Meli (OK I made that last one up). They also sell sausages - hot dogs made with the cheapest filler are extremely popular and show up in everything from wienie salads to paella - as well as salami and ham, another HUGE seller.

Now - and I am getting to my point at last - whenever there is a promotion on any of these products, the companies like Fud, San Rafael and Dubi (I did not make that last one up) decide that the best - and only - way to promote fake meat is through a direct assault on all your senses more or less as follows:

  • Sense of sight - they will have scantily-clad hostesses showing off their belly buttons, legs and cleavage, holding trays of pre-cut samples which obviously appeal to your
  • Sense of taste, which will detect mostly salt and fat but that is just the product; nothing can be done there.

  • Your sense of touch will be employed here when your fingers scrabble around on the aluminum-foil wrapped tray trying to grab a piece of fatty hot dog or ham

  • And finally, your sense of hearing will be attacked by a full out, blaring sound system, playing the latest tunes in the reggaeton, cumbia and salsa genre. In addition to the music, one of the hostesses or a host dressed in bright blue and yellow polyester will act as a DJ or MC, announcing the fabulous deals on wienies right now, and all the goodness that corn starch, pigs feet and salt can provide when ground up and shoved into a semi-edible sausage casing. He will be yelling into the mike, the music blaring, perhaps even delighting his oblivious audience with a few dance moves, and generally just creating a real exciting ambiance in which to purchase ham and cheese.

Why is this? What is the relationship with loud tropical music and cold cuts? Certainly an important question that deserves some thought.

3 comments:

Theresa in Mèrida said...

I try to avoid the supermarkets on evenings, weekends and quincenas, you miss out on the free samples, most of which isn't anything that I want(okay, the vodka samples were interesting).All I ever seem to buy at the deli is jamon de pierna, tocino, or sometimes chorizo español, none of which we are supposed to be eating these days. The circus atmosphere makes me anxious and the pa systems are so loud that I can never understand what they are saying anyway.
regards,
Theresa
I like that they will give you thin slices to try out

Grant said...

I got a dose of Salmonella from the chorizo at the now happily extinct Carrefour. Triggered arthritis I still suffer from seven years later. Look up reactive arthritis if you've never heard of this. I hadn't until it happened to me.

I tell people in the US this story reluctantly because they already think Mexico is such an uncivilized place, when most of them have never seen a grocery store as nice as Carrefour used to be. Just shows. It doesn't matter how nice the store is, sausage is risky stuff.

William Lawson said...

Grant - nice to hear from you! I hadn't heard of reactive arthritis, nor had I heard of electric bicycles! Thanks for the note!