Every day is market day in Mazatlan….at least from the looks of the Mercado and the surrounding city blocks. It is a daily part of life here, this going to market for fresh food for your meals – meat, grains, cheese, produce, bread – all bought each day for your home. I really love that part of the way of life here, and appreciate the process because it keeps preservatives out of the food chain, makes the food fresher, and encourages you to get to know the people who are providing you with the food you buy for yourself and your family.
There’s hustle and bustle everywhere I turn in the city this morning. I’m in the market for some fresh fruit and maybe some bread, things I think will keep in my hotel room, and which are treats I haven’t enjoyed very often since getting into Mexico. I’ve personally eaten a dozen or two eggs since crossing the border, as that seems to be a very common breakfast food. Before this trip I wasn’t a big egg eater, and to be honest, I still am not, but when in Rome (or Mexico)….I can tell I’m making a dent in the chicken population around here as I haven’t seen many wild ones, so I think I should switch to fruit before chickens have to be placed on the endangered species list, or before my cardiologist calls.
The Mercado is located in the heart of Centro in the city. I visited Mazatlan a few years ago and have a rough idea of the neighborhood and enjoy the wander toward where I think the Mercado is, but nothing looks familiar. My Dad texts me suggestions to visit the “shrimp ladies” for fresh shrimp, and to get some local bread. I’m so happy to have consistent cell service for the first time since crossing into Mexico and getting a message from my Dad is the very best.
If you walk along Aquiles Serdan, between the cross streets of Luis Zuniga and Alejandro Quijano, you will find the shrimp ladies under the shade of large market umbrellas, keeping their wares cool. Dozens of large iced tubs of fresh shrimp (in all types and sizes) and other seafood, as well as dried shrimp can be found on this one city blocks shoulders. Most people know to get here early to buy the fresh shrimp before they have had to endure the heat of the day. None for me today though as I will be dining in various cafes and at street carts for a bit trying all the local goodies. But I still enjoy looking.
Just a few blocks further up the Serdan is the Mercado Pino Suarez. It was built in 1900 and was originally known as the Romero Rubio, but the market was later renamed in honor of Jose Maria Pino Suarez, the Mexican Revolutionary/poet/statesman who served as Mexico’s vice president after his assassination in 1913. He is considered a national hero who dedicated, and ultimately gave, his life to the pursuit of democracy.
There are rows and rows of various stalls and vendors: meat, fish and seafood, dairy, fruits, vegetables, juices, baked goods, and more.
I can buy fresh apples, oranges, bananas, grapefruit and lime and things I would think of as exotic at home: guava, coconut, passion fruit, papaya, mango, dragon fruit, bread fruit and prickly pear cactus. There are fresh tortillas, fresh and dried chiles, fresh herbs, spices and syrups, salsas and fresh fruit juices. There are candies and dates, fresh dark-colored honey, vanilla beans, nuts and seeds. Bees hover around all the sweet things and a breeze blows through the open doors at each end of the market.
There are cafes at one of the market building where a partial second floor exists. We go up for lunch after a wander through the market. And after I am not so hungry I decide I can then shop and be able to avoid buying things that sound better because of my hunger. I score a kiwi, mango and bananas for tomorrow morning and decide that is enough for one day. I will be back tomorrow, and nearly every day…just like the locals.