Photo Walk Nº53 – San Juan Market and more

A feast for the eyes and the stomach

This walk took us to some of the different markets in the area south of Bellas Artes. We first visited the gourmet and exotic Mercado de San Juan, famous among foodies, chefs and restaurants where they buy fresh ingredients from all over the world. It is probably one of the few markets where you can get crocodile or tiger meat as well as insects commonly used in pre-Hispanic dishes, such as alacranes (scorpions), escamoles (ant eggs) and other bugs. We found it hard to imagine anyone eating a fried scorpion on top of a totopo but the vendor said people come to this market every day to have this crunchy snack. Of course, the market was full of all kinds of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and chillies so we took plenty of photos as we wandered around and tasted some of the products too.

Next we visited the nearby Craft Market and watched some of the craftsmen making guitars and other items, while some of the group took the opportunity to buy some gifts. This is a very quiet craft market off the main tourist trails. Not far from there, we stopped off at a pulquería, a type of cantina selling pulque, a traditional Mexican drink. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant which dates from pre-Hispanic times. It was a sacred drink for the Aztec priests and also given to sacrificial victims to make their death a little more bearable. When the Spanish came to Mexico, the drink became popular and widespread but more recently was replaced by beer. Lately there has been an upsurge in its popularity. We tried several different flavors of pulque but were perhaps more fascinated by the spectacular mural of Aztec symbols which covers the walls and ceiling of this unusual place.

Finally, we visited the other San Juan market which is more budget-friendly and used by the locals. As well as the food stands, we came across one selling iguanas and fish, and even a makeshift internet café. This market is well-known for its escamochas (fruit cocktails) and licuados (Mexican smoothies).

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