So how does one spend the weekend in Mexico City? Well, at least for me, Friday begins with a visit to the weekly street market on Campeche street. Early in the morning a cluster of stalls pop up that sell everything from fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, toys, underwear, kitchen utensils, hair accessories, clothes, plants, potting soil, CDs and DVDs, fresh squeezed fruit juice, soups, tacos, huaraches. The vendors stick around till about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, depending on business.
Of course, those of you who have been to Mexico before or who have seen the glossy magazine photos or travel documentaries on PBS are expecting that I am now going to append a series of beautiful colorful photos of this very traditional part of Mexican daily life. Well, I am going to have to disappoint you. The answer is no. Why you ask? Well, I'll let you in on a secret: marketing is a contact sport and you need both hands free to stand the faintest chance of getting everything on your list. A big shoulder-slung marketing bag that can handle a lot of weight helps too. Luckily M. X was willing to go with me and help show me the ropes.
Although there is a grocery store one block from the apartment, the Friday market is our one chance in this neighborhood to get our hands on the best and freshest fruits, vegetables, and cheeses to be gotten. The hard part is that the rest of the neighborhood is also in on this vital piece of information and are there to compete! The toughest cookies are the 4 foot tall, elderly women who let no one and nothing stand in their way of getting the ripest, biggest avocados and the juiciest papayas. Throwing a few bony elbow jabs is part of the game as they scoop their booty into plastic bags. Mere seconds after handing their bag over to be weighed and the price tallied they are already halfway done with their next bag. The stall owners have to be sharp as they are often attending 3 or 4 of these tough customers at once, keeping track of everyone's tab on pieces of notebook paper. The other stalls tend to be a bit more relaxed, which makes for a nice break.
After dodging the abuelitas and the odd fully coiffed giant poodle (our neighborhood is overrun by yuppies with pure bred dogs, but that's for another entry) we secured our mangos, papaya, squash, tomatoes, oranges, eggplant, Oaxaca cheese, live basil, parsley, and cilantro, potting soil (of course), a cutting board, vegetable peeler, and squeegee (M. X is a demon for window washing) We then rewarded ourselves by stopping by one of the market's numerous taco stands for a big bowl of consome and tacos de barbacoa (both made with mutton). We next washed down our late breakfast with a giant, fresh-squeezed orange juice purchased from another stand that would later be selling Oaxaca-style homemade ice creams. Can't wait for next week!