Saturday, August 15, 2015
Mercados of Mexico
If you want to see some of the REAL Mexico, go to the mercados of whatever village or town that you visit. It is always a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
The photo above is of the mercado in San Miguel de Allende. Mercado Ramirez just down the hill from my house. It is a cornucopia of beautiful fruits and vegetables along with shopping bags, fresh flowers and small serving counters where one can have meals.
It is not grand, but serviceable. On the outside of the market are women from the countryside selling nopales with the thorns removed, tuna (the fruit of the cactus) and all kinds of other items that are used for cooking.
The small counter service food stands are kinda like a food court in the malls of the USA! Well sorta. The people who own their stands remember a shopper from one week to the next. They will get anything for you that they don't happen to have the week that you ask for it. And, they almost always give you a regalo (gift) of a piece of fruit for your patronage. It's such a touching custom.
The most spectacular mercado for me in all my life, has been the one in Guadalajara. I was there starting in the early 80's until the late 90's off and on. Always, as fast as my feet could take me, I would head upstairs in the gargantuan market to the aisle with the herbs and salves. What you see there is other worldly. At least it used to be. The indigenous women would come in from the countryside to get the things that they wanted or needed for healing or cooking.
A memory of a happening that I experienced one day seldom leaves me. I was sitting on the stairs overlooking a small courtyard. An indigenous woman in a long skirt and rebozo had a swaddled baby in her arms. Earlier, she had been on the herbal aisle. Totally unaware of any other person, she knelt, opened the swaddling of the baby, and began to tenderly rub oils on the skin of the baby. It wasn't a quick fix. It was a long drawn out process that mesmerized me. With such tenderness and love, she eventually re wrapped the baby, stood and left. I felt as though I had been blessed to be present at a beautiful, surreal, ceremony of two people.
That occurrence was probably thirty years ago or so, but, in my mind's eye, I can see the entire event as though it happened yesterday.
I guess that's why when I visit a new place, I don't head for the big buildings or fancy restaurants, but rather, to the markets, parks and out of the way places. To see the real Mexico always touches my heart.
Sadly, I confess, that I have not ever been to the many, many mercados of Mexico City. Perhaps the size of them overwhelms me. However, the market in Guadalajara is two stories and covers many, many blocks. So, I do need to go in DF, the next time I am there.
What mercados have you visited? And, have you had memorable experiences?