To the south of Mexico City, in the heart of the Xochimilco neighborhood, sits one of the most traditional markets of Mexico City. To tour it from start to finish is an activity the locals carry out every day, but an unusual experience for visitors. Venture into it and become seduced by its colorful fruits, it food stands, its immense variety of plants and flowers, its toys and everything being sold in its corridors. Welcome!
To walk along the long main corridor of Xochimiclo market is a rich cultural experience, and, undoubtedly the best way to get close to the local gastronomic tradition. You will certainly be drawn to the huge clay pots containing different kinds of mole – a sauce prepared with over 30 ingredients, whose base is a blend of chiles and spices –. These may contain chocolate, spices, fruits and other ingredients dating back to pre-Hispanic times.
If you want to learn about a unique dish, hard to find elsewhere in Mexico City, taste the small minnow tamales, corn snacks with sun-dried fish from the lake, and seasoned with salt. Locals accompany their meals with a cactus salad, containing chopped onion, cilantro and chile (you can buy a hearty portion for $10 Mexican pesos). Of course, you must be sure to visit the fruit stands, where you can ask for samples to taste, and choose the sweeter and juicier fruits.
We must mention the dining area, where there are more than two dozen places offering snacks and “comida corrida” (a special meal each day, with a full menu including soup, rice, and a stew. It is accompanied by a glass of flavored water, which can be strawberry, lemon with chia, Jamaica flower, horchata, mango or seasonal fruit. It costs about $30 Mexican pesos.
Women prepare the famous comal quesadillas in front of the customers’ eyes; to stuff them, you can choose from a variety of stews: squash blossoms, huitlacoche (a mushroom that grows on corn and is called the “Mexican truffle”), cheese, mushrooms with epazote, chicken and beef tinga, picadillo (ground beef cooked in tomato sauce) and many more.
Choosing where to sit is easy: the best places are those having the most diners. On Saturday and Sundays they sell “pancita” (a stew made from beef stomach seasoned with oregano, chile de arbol and onion), delicious tostadas covered with pickled pigs’ feet and mutton barbecue. A real gourmet experience!
Where: Nuevo Leon street, Santa Crucita neighborhood, Xochimilco, Mexico City