Living in a small mountain town has its challenges, especially when you need a specialty product. I never considered sofrito to be a "specialty" product before; living in Florida, I could put my hands on a jar or frozen tub of sofrito, a Latino sauce, at any number of stores within a five-mile radius of my home. I could even make my own, because all the fresh ingredients I needed were also available at said stores.
Little did I realize how hard it would be to find sofrito in the town where I'm now living. Not only that, I had a devil of a time finding it in neighboring Colorado Springs (population: a lot, including a fair percentage of Latinos). The first Latino market I visited in the Springs had closed a week earlier for nonpayment of rent; another highly touted mega-carniceria hadn't even opened for business yet. I was about to start making the rounds of the Mexican restaurants in our town--there are a half-dozen in our town of 7,000 people--sidle up to the cooks, and whisper oh so softly, Psst! Know where I can score some sofrito? I'm telling you, I felt as if I was trying to buy a controlled illegal substance.
I finally found some at a Latino market called Leonela's in Colorado Springs. I mention the name of the store for one reason: utter gratitude. I bought four jars, plus four more of recaito, a sauce I use less often but one that is even harder to find. Oh, and a box of cilantro cubes and a package of powdered achiote, two products I didn't know existed in those forms and which I may never need, but what the heck. There they were, and there I was, and I wasn't about to leave the store without them. The store isn't exactly around the corner, more like 30 miles away.
My fortunes are about to change, however, but don't tell anyone how pleased I am about this. Wal-Mart is opening a supercenter two miles from my house at 7:30 tomorrow morning. Of course, I hate Wal-Mart, just as everyone else does. But I also shop there, just as most everyone else does. If I have any hope of scoring some sofrito at 8,500 feet, it will be at the dreaded, evil, dastardly, always well-stocked Wal-Mart Supercenter. Yep, I'll feel dirty and slimy and traitorous and all that, but I'll have my sofrito.