Spanish lesson of the shopping kind

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Tucked behind Maria Bonita is a treasure palace of tropical delights for the culinary senses and an exotic departure from everyday grocery shopping: the Plaza Gigante Supermarket (10659 E. Colonial Drive; 407-277-7688).

Wander the aisles and check out the cans of tomatillos and menudo, frozen bags of guava and cases of shrimp empanadas, jars of pescado seasoning for fish and gooey slices of nopalitos (cactus). Bottles of pineapple juice sit alongside bags of masarica corn meal for tortillas. The produce aisle (all labeled in Spanish) offers fresh green or yellow plantains and knobby, squashlike chayote, and the meat section has miles of smoked chorizo and blocks of queso blanco.

The labels on some products are quite artistic, such as the enticing reclined woman on a bottle of neon-red Sirop de Granadina. It's an eye-opening visit.

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