Aug. 31, 2019

Eat Mexico

Mexico City is a great reference for the world in many ways, we traveled recently with the book "Eat Mexico" of Lesley Tellez as a guide.

In a city that suffers from agonizing traffic, crumbling infrastructure , and fetid air, thrives a gastronomic capital: Mexico City. Bosting regional influences from the northern border to Guatemala, the complex, flavorful foods of this city are what makes everyone talk. 

In Mexico City, there are two types of markets: Mercados, generally boxy buildings full of produce stalls and eateries, and tianguis, outdoor markets that move to different neighborhoods throughout the week. Many Mercado  buildings in Mexico City were constructed in the middle of the twentieth century, and there's a sense, stepping inside, that things haven't changed much.

The Mercado is as much about eating as it is shopping. Every market offers prepared food, sold either at lunch counters or small restaurants , and all of it is cooking daily or, à la minute.

You can find fresh juices and tortas, guisados (stew) and tacos, and pitchers of aguas frescas. Eating there, your market bags resting at your feet, the strum of a guitar or some other music  on your ear from a wandering musician , it's no hard to romanticizes  the experience, particularly when you spend your life shopping at bland supermarkets.

The Tianguis, from the náhuatl word tianquitzli, meaning plaza or  market, is an open-air market than usually spans several blocks, with stands offering fresh produce, prepared food, clothes, shoes and other odds and ends. The vibe is wilder than the Mercado. There are ambulant vendors too: men toting big glass jars of honey and pollen, flat baskets of fresh herbs, coolers of homemade tamales, fresh cheeses or staks of wooden bangers.

It's interesting  to ponder how long all of this will go on, as mexican demographics have change. More women now work outside the home and families  report having less time to cook. The Mercados and Tianguis are only open during business hours, so they don't fit the average working person's schedule. Some Mercados have lost most of their tenants , leaving huge, half empty shells in otherwise bustling residential neighborhoods.

By the way, Mexico City have the biggest Mercado in Latin America, named La Merced.