The Mercado in Mazatlan
08 April 2010
The Mercado in Mazatlan is a wonderful experience. There are lots of "booths" in a one story building that encompasses a large city block. There are little booths along the sidewalk on the outside selling magazines, CDs, shoes, sandals, nicnacks, and the local beverages of a red Kool-Aid made out of flowers, tamarind and crushed almonds. There are a couple of 4 seat stands that have tacos. When entering any one of the four entrances you are immediately transported to a different world with many new smells and sights. I like going in where the clothing is or the door where the fresh fruit and vegetables are. Upon entering the clothing section several young ladies call you saying "Lady, you want some dress or shirt?" There are lots of t-shirts and many of the native dresses. Everyone wants you to buy from them as they will make the best price. You can barter if you are buying something. The more you buy the better the price. After going through the clothing you come to either the fruits and veggies or the meats. The fresh fruit and vegetables were wonderful. A lot to choose from and they all looked good. Behind the fruit stands were stores that sold herbal remedies and offered treatments for whatever ails you. There are some stands that sell dried beans and grains. Others have eggs, boxed milk and various staples. One lady sells cooked sweet potatoes, plantains and bread pudding. There's even a store that sells the local sweets. Flavored marshmallows are big around here along with gumdrops.
Now you arrive at the meat section. There are all different kinds of meat. The butchers are cutting up the carcasses right in front of you. In the chicken section you can get whole chickens or parts. Chicken feet are there in mounds. Their chicken is a lot more yellow than what I've seen before. It's all laid out on stainless steel tables and kept cool. The beef has not only sides, but different cuts. They also lay out all of the different organs for purchase. In one case was a cow tail minus the skin. It sold rapidly. What do you make out of cows tails? It was very long and skinny. The pork is displayed with the heads and feet, as is the lamb and goat. The last section is the fresh seafood. Here there are all different kinds of fresh caught fish. They have 20 pound groupers and little fish, squid, shrimp and our very favorite smoked marlin. The floor in this section is very wet and there are women whose job it is to wave a fan to keep the flies off. Also within this section are a few venders that sell cheeses. They have fresh to very aged cheese. We really like the Chihuahua cheese and the Oaxaca cheese.
The smell of raw fish, raw meat, various fruits and veggies, the incense that some of the shops burn, and the city all combine to be a very aromatic experience. Some of the areas I prefer to just hurry through. Others are not bad at all.
After leaving the Mercado we walk a few blocks to the shrimp ladies. Here for one block are 10 - 12 women with buckets of fresh shrimp, squid and scallops. We get the large shrimp where 12 shrimp make a pound for about $4/pound. The women will clean them for you at no extra price. They put your shrimp in a plastic bag along with ice. Then they put that bag in another one or two. The shrimp stay cold all the way back to the boat. These are the best shrimp that we have had. Mazatlan is known for its shrimp.
I enjoy shopping at the Mercado. It is quite an adventure. I still go to the regular grocery stores for most of my staples.