Pablo Neruda* said it very well: “MEXICO IS IN ITS MARKETS." ("Lo recorrí por años enteros, de mercado a mercado, porque México está en los mercados". (I went from market to market for years because Mexico is in its markets.) * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Neruda
In every city, town, or village in Mexico there is a traditional market designed to meet basic needs. These can be called by different names. In municipal seats, the main "fixed" market for the area is called the municipal market (mercado municipal). In the cities, but also in the smaller outlying area, the provisional temporary markets are called "tianguis" from the Nahautl (Aztec) word for "market."
Checking out the offerings at the weekly tianguis market in Zaachila, Oaxaca.
kaleidoscope of colors, smells, sounds, and sights!
The “tianguis” and mercados were and are more than a simple space for buying and selling. They are are places where the heart of Mexican culture beats. Here, the country’s flavors, colors and aromas are concentrated. Along their corridors you can hear the voices of the vendors, shouting in their mischievous tone which is so characteristic of the Mexican people. Everywhere you can see handmade signs announcing fruits, meat, or cheese “at the best price”. As foreigners residing in Mexico it is where my husband and I go when we want to feel more a part of Mexican culture and the community. We buy groceries including special fruits and vegetable, eat at local food stands with traditional made-from-scratch dishes, and absorb the ambiance. Visiting the mercados is one of our favorite past times and one of which I never tire.
Flowers and piñatas are found in the municipal mercados of Mexico and are big sellers
And it is in these mercados, dating back to pre-Hispanic times, where Mexican culture survives. While traditional markets have their own permanent space and are open every day, the “tianguis” are provisional and set up for business on the streets one day a week. For the indigenous pre-Hispanic population, the mercados were a place for swaps: for coexistence and cultural expression; where they bought and sold their products; where they set up civil and religious events; and where major decisions for their communities were made. Definitely the heart of their culture!
The Tlatelolco tianguis, the largest in the pre-Hispanic Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, was described by the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes as a place where thousands of people came every day to sell and purchase a wide variety of products. The largest Mesoamerican trade network and market system was developed by the Aztecs which brought valuable exotic goods from distant lands such as jade, cotton, cacao and precious metals.
Turkey and the famous mole sauces of Oaxaca are made for each other - yummy yummy! Sorry turkeys!
Green onions anyone? Check out the beautiful flowers behind the Señora to the left!
Laura and "her chiles" as seen at Zaachila which is famous for its Thursday tianguis market which has been a tradition since pre-Hispanic times.
Would it not be extraordinary to be able to travel back in time to witness the traditions and cultures of pre-Hispanic Mexico!
In the near future, as a followup to this posting, you will see a posting on the indigenous pre-Hispanic foods of Mexico which are very much a part of modern cuisine. Until then, please enjoy the following web album and it's embedded slide show. As always I look forward to hearing from my followers with their questions, comments, and suggestions. Gracias and safe travels! Laura
LINK TO PHOTO ALBUM: TRADITIONAL MERCADOS OF MEXICO