Sunday, July 15, 2012

Old Habits Die Hard

One of the things I have always loved about Mexico is the shopping. I don't mean for the arts and crafts or the beautiful clothes, although that is fun too, I just mean the every day shopping for the house. The local butcher store, produce shop, bakery, cheese shop, flower kiosk, or even the hardware store.

You can make a day of it, slowly working your way through town, stopping to chat with people, visiting all the different vendors. A visit to the local mercado, food market, is a wonderful way to spend a morning. Usually crowded and noisy, it is also alive with colours and smells, music and laughter, and always entertaining. Children and dogs run between the legs of the shoppers as the vendors bellow, advertising their wares.

Fresh Fruits And Vegetables

There is also the mercado version of the shopping mall food fair, where the mouth-watering smells of local delicacies vie for attention with the sweet smell of baked goods, and the not so pleasant smells of some of the other stalls, such as the meat vendors. There are usually several little "restaurants" where you can sit at a counter or on small benches and partake of the local cuisine. Frequently featured foods are  tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, pozole, birria, or chicken with mole, all served with the ubiquitous frijoles y arroz, rice and beans. If you are really adventurous you may want to try the menudo.

Menudo is a hearty soup often used as a hangover cure. It is an offal soup which includes liver, kidney, tripe (the stomachs of ruminant animals) and pig trotters (pig's feet). It is seasoned with guajillo chilies, Mexican oregano, dried red chilies, cilantro, cumin, sugar and vinegar. All of this is simmered for many hours, and I have yet to try it, but I am told it is very good.

Emilio's Enchiladas Placeras

You could really do all your shopping in the mercado if you wanted to but personally I like to make the rounds of all the little shops. Now having said that, I must tell you that it has been a long time since I have been to the mercado.

There's Even A Bar!

Those of you who do not read Todd's blog, Life in the Corazon, may not know that I had a serious accident two years ago. While rescuing a humming bird from the sky-light in my dining room in Patzcuaro, the ladder slipped out from under me and I fell about twenty feet to a floor of tile and concrete. I have since had seven surgeries and (hopefully) have only one more to undergo. I still get around with the help of a wheelchair or a walker and I find it difficult to get into, and around, cramped places like the mercado. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!

Costco In Querétaro

In reality, I think it is more of a case of falling back into old habits. We can't always get everything we want at the mercado or the little shops in town so we will often go to one of the big-box stores such as Mega, Soriana, WalMart or Costco. Admittedly these types of stores are easier for me to navigate, but I suspect that we would be shopping in this manner regardless. It's a quick, easy one stop shop. Todd likes his Coke Zero, I like my H2Oh! and we can get canned and packaged goods and produce ( which is NEVER as good as at the mercado ) all in one place. If I want a bottle of whiskey or wine it is just a couple of aisles over from the deli and the bakery.

It is all so very free of charm. I moved here because I liked the laid-back lifestyle and the fact that I would have the time to live it in the manner of the Mexicans, but now I find myself falling back into the same old rut. I have managed to navigate such events as the plant show in the park and the Chili Cook-off, with my walker, both of which were wall to wall people, and I suspect that with a little effort I could manage the mercado as well.

I think it is time to stop and smell the too warm meat and get back to my life as it was when we first moved here. To take the time to appreciate my surroundings, to be grateful that I am still alive and to remember how lucky I am to be living here in Mexico.


  1. Good luck as you venture back into the marketplace.

    I do understand the lure of the Mega though ...

  2. Thanks, it's so easy to go back to the old habits without even realizing. I'm definitely going to turn things around again!

  3. Shannon, sounds like you need to get Todd to do a little "look-see" at the two mercardos in town regarding accessibility.... Also, have him check out the tuesday tanguis . Something in the back of my mind seems to think that the majority of the area is a flat concrete platform. Mega is luverly, but the mercardos, have their own special panache! All the best!
    Dan in NC

  4. I've been to the Tuesday market Dan, although not since I moved here. I probably could get around there. As for the other markets, I imagine I could probably manage that too. It's just a matter of getting off my lazy (ever widening) butt! You're right though about the mercados having there own special charm, definitely NOT found in Mega.

  5. Shannon,
    Will you ever be able to get around without the walker, so you can enjoy all the places you were able to enjoy before your accident? Will it just take time?


  6. I sure hope so Judy. If all goes well, I should have one more operation to repair the ligaments in my knee and then I should be able to walk. I just can't have that done until there is enough solid bone in the femur. I don't know how much longer I will have to wait at this point though.