Kissing cousins: a tray of Mexican candied oranges and a handful of limones rellenos de cocada, or coconut-stuffed limes ($4.99 per pound, or about 40 cents each).
Unlike the oranges — examples of frutas cristalizadas, for which whole fruits or manageable chunks are preserved by being repeatedly boiled in syrup, then dried — the limes are hollowed out. The peels alone are candied, then filled with sweetened shredded coconut. Why the special treatment for one citrus fruit and not another, I can't say, but I like the result, peels and all.
Previously: My earlier encounter with a thin, murky pulque was less than satisfactory. But perhaps I chose poorly; here was an opportunity to multiply my chances. Del Razo is the Mexican brand that Nina Lalli found in Williamsburg several years ago. She sampled the "natural" (that is, unflavored) variety, judging it "slightly funky, with the edge of pear past its prime." My opinion, regarding another brand's unflavored pulque, was much the same. Lalli also noted that Del Razo makes "cured" (flavored) varieties, which weren't in stock on the day of her visit. But at El Popo, I hit a trifecta: The market carried both strawbery and coconut-pineapple in addition to plain pulque (11.5 fl. oz., $2.25 each).
Alas, as I came to realize over three evenings, flavor is not the issue. Even in its home country, pulque is known as a temperamental beverage that doesn't keep or travel well; the canned, imported stuff is pasteurized, as Lalli noted. It bears little resemblance to the thick, frothy pulque of renown, which still can be sampled only fresh-made, much closer to the source.
Also shown, from the outdoor produce display: huauzontles. This relative of lamb's quarters, purslane, and amaranth bears herbaceous buds that can be battered and fried, sometimes in the company of cheese, and eaten much like a vegetarian hot dog.
El Popo Mini Market
88-28 Roosevelt Ave. (Britton-Elmhurst Aves.), Jackson Heights, Queens