Xenia at the Market

Xenia (Greek: ξενία, translit. xenía, meaning “guest-friendship”) is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality. – Wikipedia

My favorite neighborhood market
welcomes shoppers with
Ranchera music and bright displays
of beans and sauces stacked
in pyramids behind the produce,
where fragrant pineapples
vie for space with papayas.
I feel like a stranger welcomed
into a loving home, exotic
vegetables inviting me for a bite.
There are sweet, crunchy jicama,
mild nopal cactus leaves, chile
peppers of every size and shape,
bins of dried beans and tamarind,
and a wall of spices. Cooked foods
can be sampled before you buy,
soups, meats, beans and stews
next to the fresh-baked breads.
Unhurried shoppers pass
with a smile, browsing
or chatting at the checkout line
in Spanish or English with friendly
cashiers who know the produce
by name and never ask
“What is this and how do you use it?”


I have been wanting to write about my favorite grocery store, but it’s hard to fit it all into one poem. I have only included two aisles here, in response to the NaPoWriMo sense prompt and Bart Barker’s challenge to use an unusual word.

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