Thursday, September 10, 2015

Cirio and All That

Pomodori San Marzano (from Huffington Post)

or: The Quest For The Ideal Canned Tomato

I know I'm totally obsessed with obtaining and maintaining a good supply of Italian Cirio Pomodori Pelati Entero, or even the second ranked but still superior range of Spanish Cidacos Tomates. The truth is, I don't really even need them right now. I have enough on hand to last for an unknown time. But I will need them eventually, and they are becoming increasingly scarce on supermarket shelves in Morelia.

Out Of Stock???

They are essential to me for making rich tasting pasta sauces and other uses. Concurrently, the excellent, not Italian, Kirkland Signature Organic Tomato products have been replaced on the shelves of Morelia's Costco with unwieldy, impractical #10 cans of S&W tomato products. That's not progress, it's regression. Great for food service operations but impractical for the home cook.

Not Currently Available

The Walmart Internet Tomato Fiasco

There was a brief period of hope, when our friend Jennifer located the desired Cirio Pomodori Pelati Entero in the online catalog of Walmart Mexico. Jennifer kindly offered to receive the coveted goods at her Morelia home.

We made valiant efforts place the order, hurdling numerous obstacles, but for all our efforts it ended in frustration. To make the online purchase, I first had to register with That wasn't too hard except the registration form at first rejected my email address as invalid, then went on to reject Jennifer's home phone. Then it accepted them. ¿Quien sabe?

After registration, I went to Delivery Options. I was offered delivery from two widely distant Walmarts, and of course, I chose the nearest. Shipping charges were $39 pesos. There was a Store Pickup Option at no charge, but I was leery of that, having once run afoul of a local Walmart's ineptitude when I wanted to buy a bag of ice for about $10 pesos. That's another story.

The next option left me incredulous. I could choose the day and the hour  of delivery. I was extremely skeptical that Walmart could fulfill this delivery as ordered within the specified range, but I put in our preferences.

I then went to Payment, where I got to choose Cash, Credit/Debit/PayPal, etc. I selected Credit/Debit. But the next page was the most surreal of all.There was no place to enter the Credit/Debit specifics. How in the hell was it to be paid for? I surmised that it must be C.O.D.

The next day, Jennifer's answering machine recorded a call from Walmart that they didn't have the requested item in stock, but instead offered a substitute. It was impossible to decipher what that substitute might be, but at any rate, she was urged to call them back. Unfortunately, they didn't leave a callback number!
Somehow, this outcome was not a surprise.

I have to ask: is this any way to run a retail empire?
After this fiasco, I was ready to give up, at least with Walmart.

But, Never Say Die
Soon after, while shopping for baker's flour and such at Super Codallos Pátzcuaro, near the autopista, I found nice cans of Mexican made La Morena Puré de Tomato, whose sole ingredient is stated to be "TOMATE".  That's a potential step up from the gold standard here of Del Fuerte Puré de Tomate, which is "condimentado". That means "seasoned". Del Fuerte isn't really bad stuff, it's just not the quality I'm seeking.

I had a brilliant idea flash into my brain. I was Amazed by the ample offerings of both Italian San Marzano tomatoes available through the online retailer plus Muir Glen brand organic tomatoes, in a variety of presentations. The only snag is getting such products delivered here to Mexico. (The aforesaid items are not yet available on

I did make a test batch of pasta sauce, using one, precious 28 ounce can of Cirio Pomodori Pelati and a can of La Morena Puré de Tomate. The La Morena wasn't bad, just not as rich in tomato-ness as the Italian or even Spanish products. Nor was it as "heavy" or thick, but it was usable. The final sauce was slightly bitter, but that could be because I'd used a different recipe for Basic Tomato Sauce than my standard. It was from the usually very reliable I think the bitterness came from the parsley in the sauce.

So, as things stand now, my obsession is in abeyance. But someday, my truck will come, carrying a cargo of great canned tomatoes!

There is an earlier post on this topic, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, from February 7, 2010. Things have not changed much in the field of tomatoes.

Last Wednesday, we stopped at the newer of the two Chedraui supermercados in Morelia, on a tip from Jennifer Rose that sometimes Chedraui carries "weird stuff".

Although I was unable to relocate a favorite sparkling white wine, Blanc Pescador, I hit the jackpot when I roamed the aisles. A store employee directed me to the not obvious shelves of canned tomatoes. Then, BONANZA! There was not only a very ample stock of Cirio Pomodori Pelati, but Cidacos Tomates Enteros as well, and at $18 pesos a can, a crazy bargain. You bet I stocked up, but left a couple of cans for other customers, and as a memory jog to store staff to reorder soon.

Once home, I unpacked them, placed them on the kitchen counter where I could admire them, played "Tomatoes on Parade", and built towers. Then when I tired, I neatly snugged them away into their tomato houses for the night. I went to bed contented and pleased.

Tomato Towers

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