If you've been reading Mexico Cooks! for long, you know that we photograph a lot of ripe and colorful fruits, vegetables, and other edibles in Mexico's markets. This gorgeous turkey, for example, was tethered with some others at the Thursday weekly market in Zaachila, Oaxaca. He didn't know it, of course, but he would soon be purchased and...well, you can imagine. This is a food market, after all.
In the interest of early and full disclosure, the rest of the photos in this article might just gross you out. It turns out that for reasons unknown even to myself, I have, in addition to taking lots of market photos of benign and lovely fruits and vegetables, made lots of head shots. Disembodied heads of animals. Be warned.
This Mexico City butcher saw me approaching with the camera and obligingly sat the pig head up straight for a portrait. He's shaving the head, which was to be sold either whole or in parts for making Jalisco-style pozole. Better he should shave it than you should have to do it!
That's a goat head at the left of the photo. To the right is a container of chinicuiles (red maguey worms). The goat head is for preparing birria, the chinicuiles are for roasting and eating as a snack.
I think this is the first pig head picture I took, years ago at Guadalajara's Mercado Libertad. All the pigs' heads I've seen have had that same charming little smile.
See what I mean? This fellow looks downright happy to have given his all for your bowl of Guerrero-style pozole.
Anyone for bouillabaise? It's been a long time since I prepared this delicious French fish stew, but Mexican markets always have the ingredients. Like pozole, bouillabaise starts its broth with heads--in this case, fish heads.
Doña Martha has taken the cooked pig head out of the broth to remove its bones and teeth. At this point, the pozole is almost-but-not-quite ready to serve.
Admit it, you would have taken this picture, too. How could I resist?
You might want to click on this photo to enlarge it, for a better view. It's barbacoa de res (beef barbecue, Mexican style), wrapped in penca de maguey (cactus leaves) and cooked for hours in a pit. You can still see the teeth in the jaw.
A raw beef head, hung upside down in the butcher shop.
Here's another beef head with the skin and fur removed from the top of the head. The butcher's gloved thumb is just about to pull the skin off the nose.
Chicken heads. I don't have a recipe nor do I know of a recipe. If you do, please let me know!
You'll be glad to know that this is the last pig head for this article. This one, thoroughly cleaned, shaven, and ready for the pot, is merely waiting for a customer. The ears, snout, and tongue are delicacies in Mexico.
Has this photo essay driven any of you into the vegetarian camp? Here's a vegetarian head: cabbage, of course.
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