There is this one market that is only two metro stations away from the Zocalo called the Merced. Translated, it means mercy in Spanish. There are entrances right into the market from the metro platform and it always blows me away whenever I would go.
It’s located in what looks to be a huge hanger, where the ceiling goes a good three stories up. There are booths and booths of oranges, limes, tomatoes, potatoes and a whole slew of produce. Food stalls line the edges and the areas around the metro entrance. The smell of onions and potatoes waft down, mingling with the smell of fried goodness from the stalls.
Everything is sold by the kilo and is pretty cheap. The little signs that advertise the produce have that turn-of-the-20th-century typeset and the little light bulbs that illuminate the limes are covered in green colored paper or painted green so that the limes look even more green and appetizing.
The booths are organized in sections. There is the lime district, the orange and grapefruit district, the tomato district, the potato district, the garlic district. Near the metro exit and the passageways right outside the nave are the food stalls that sell greasy goodness in the form of cheese-stuffed peppers, battered and deep-fried enough to cook but not to make crispy, tacos with an array of fillings going from cochinita pibil to mole. Tortillas that are still made by hand, pressed between two sheets of plastic in a press and heated on the griddle. Washing it all down with a juice (called “agua” in Mexico because there is water added to the juice) of seasonal fruits that comes straight from the market.
All your groceries packed into a large bag, popular among female tourists as a pop culture fashion item, seen by locals as an ugly grocery bag, your “bolsa de mandado” is most likely very stuffed by the time you hit the metro tourniquets. So much so that you might have to pass through the gates because now your bag is so heavy, you can’t hoist it over the tourniquets.
I so miss going to a good market and buying good food at a very reasonable price.