A walk through the markets of Oaxaca

A tour of the stores and histories that make up two of Oaxaca's most important markets

By Conservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Baile tradicional en la Guelaguetza (2018-02-04) by Norma GutiérrezConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Oaxaca with the diversity of its eight regions and the nuances of its 570 municipalities, with visions of its 16 ethnic groups and with the rich tradition inherited from generation to generation, what can it offer us apart a party?

Botana oaxqueñaConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

There is no unique Oaxacan kitchen. There are as many regions and communities; from this, the extraordinary gastronomic variety can be seen.

Tlayuda asándoseConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

From the delicious simplicity of a tlayuda (huge toasted tortilla), to the baroque flavor of a black mole; from the fanciful memela (large corn tortilla), to the elegant chichilo (mole).

Chiles secosConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Cocoa, corn and chili are three of the basic ingredients of Oaxacan food. The gastronomic richness that we find in many of the towns and that goes hand in hand with the cultural and environmental richness that exists throughout the state of Oaxaca is impressive.

Puesto de panesConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Let's meet the important protagonists who give life and recognition to the two most emblematic markets of the city of Oaxaca.

Mercado oaxaqueñoConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Benito Juárez Market

The Mercado Benito Juárez is one of the oldest trading centers in Oaxaca City, opened in 1894. It occupies a space with a structure that reminds you of a train station. Its roof and doors are built with iron materials, keeping traditions and culture on the inside.

Puesto de chilesConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

You can buy a huge variety of chilis and seeds, tortillas, tlayudas (toasted tortillas), totopos (tortilla chips), tamales, cheese, meat and fish, sorbets, fresh water and tejate (corn and cacao drink), regional sweets, chocolate, chapulines (grasshoppers), hormigas chicatanas (chicatana ants) and gusanos de maguey (agave worms), as well as a variety of mezcals, fruits and vegetables, without missing the rich artisan production.

Puesto de aguas CasildaConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

In this market are the famous Casilda waters. This post is now attended by the relatives of Doña Casilda (1910–1955), the founder, and offers us a wide variety of flavored waters.

Jugos Casilda 2Conservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

We can choose between horchata (rice drink) with prickly pear, chilacayote (figleaf gourd), guanábana (tropical fruit), guayaba con chía (guava with chia seeds), orange with apple, coconut, grated lemon lemon rind, cucumber with lemon, tamarind and many other flavors.

NievesConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Now, let's refresh your palate with the sorbet of Chaguita, cared for by the fifth generation of her relatives who proudly tell us that they have 200 years of making sorbet. We can taste sorbet of roses, sherbet, mezcal, peanut, passion fruit, elote (street corn), mamee apple, cheese, beso oaxaqueño (Oaxacan kiss liquer) and many more flavors.

Ingredientes para mole en mercadoConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

20 de noviembre Market

Located next to the mercado Benito Juarez, this space houses iconic establishments such as the Pasillo de Humo (smoke corridor), traditional inns and the sale of breads and chocolate typical of the region.

Venta de legumbres en el mercado de Oaxaca (2019-04-29) by Norma GutiérrezConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

This corridor is a magical place that welcomes you with anafres (tortilla stoves) lit with charcoal, and from side to side there are stalls with meat for grilling: tasajo (jerky), cecina enchilada (cured meat enchilada) and tripas (tripe), as well as all kinds of legumes on the side: radishes, spring onions, nopales (prickly pears), avocados, chilis, lemons.

Pila de tlayudasConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Finally, they will also pass vendors of hot tortillas offering their soft or toasted varieties. Visitors, sitting at shared tables, can enjoy a great feast.

Mercado en OaxacaConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Passing the corridor, we enter the area with inns and stalls selling bread and chocolate; here we can find traditional chefs dressed in traditional clothes from different regions and with excellent seasoning. Many of them have been working there for more than 50 years.

ChapulinesConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Each one has a rich gastronomic tradition that offers the Oaxacan diners and diners from elsewhere who are seeking authenticity in the preparation of their dishes every day . Recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.

Asando chiles para el moleConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

On these stalls we will find the protagonists who give life and recognition to this market. For example, in the Candita Dining Room, the chef Alberta Hernández welcomes hundreds of diners who delight in the tasty tlayudas (toasted tortillas) with cecina (cured meat), chorizo or tasajo (jerky), not forgetting the 7 moles among the other dishes.

Comprando ingredientesConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Although the wide variety of dishes and ingredients in both markets give it its well deserved reputation, it is in its people that lies the richness and life that characterizes the spirit of these markets and that of the Oaxacan gastronomy.

Credits: Story

Text by Amelia Lara T.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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