And, most crucially for us, the grocery stores here had exactly what we were looking for. There were aisles and aisles of chiles, fresh, dried, jarred and pickled. There were cuts of meat, like tripe, pigs feet and even oxtails, which are excellent for caldo de res, displayed in abundance. When it came to cheese, there was queso Oaxaca, queso fresco, Cotija and more—offered wrapped in a banana leaf, cornhusk, or just plain plastic. The varieties of dried beans on offer wildly outnumbered that of our Manhattan grocers. There were crusty, sugary panes dulces (sweet baked breads) and colorful galletas de azucar (sugar cookies). This, we agreed, was a gold mine. We were certain to find what we needed here and began exploring the markets.