Mercados | Mexico | Living in Mexico


Mercados are collections of small vendors gathered together to create a market. We have several permanent mercados in San Miguel—permanent in that they occupy actual buildings. We also have smaller, more informal mercados that essentially are collections of tents or tarpaulins.


Mercados usually consist of food sellers, although clothing, DVDs, toys, and other things are also sold. Most of the goods on display are typical of what you and I might find in U. S. supermarkets: bananas, tomatoes, eggplant, jicama, chayote, piñatas...


OK. Not all of it is familiar to Norteamericanos. We who have lived in places like California where lots of Mexicans live, too, are accustomed to seeing several varieties of dried chiles in the produce section, along with tomatillos, the little sour green husk tomatoes used in salsa verde.


But we don't get to see handmade chorizo.


The meat that goes into these sausages is way more wholesome than what is listed in the table of ingredients in packaged American-made chorizo. Like beef lips and salivary glands.

Nor does Safeway carry tunas. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The texture and taste are similar to watermelon, but tunas contain many small seeds. A good breakfast fruit. Just peel and eat.


Eew. Ick. What's this? Smoked pancreas?

No. These are roasted yams. Very sweet, very good.


Any mercado is gonna have stands where you can get something to eat or drink. Like this juice bar where you can get agua de guayaba with quail eggs.

Alas, the old ways are dying. This woman is relaxing with a coke. Note the returnable bottle. When is the last time you saw one of those?


Distribution is often direct from the farm. Here's a pickup load o' beef. The brown tub contains tripe. There's also something there that's gray and granular-looking. (Shudder.) What is it? Ambergris? Probably best avoided.

You get used to seeing meat in a more natural state. In a Yucatan village I once saw ropy-looking beef heaped on a table in the sun. Looked like a cow butchered with a grenade.


Smaller vendors set up just outside the mercado, their wares laid out on tarps. I like this woman's artfully arranged pyramids of avocados.


Just outside the mercado in Guanajuato, I saw one of these marginal sellers with a galvanized tub full of intestines. I can't imagine anyone buying them, but someone must or he wouldn't bother.

Unappetizing. The original tub o' guts. Put you right off the taco stand next door.