Everybody in Mexico City who loves to eat, including Mexico Cooks!, loves the small but mighty Mercado de San Juan. Both wholesaler to restaurants and tourist attraction, this market offers its public almost anything you can think of to eat. Food that is available almost nowhere else in Mexico is available at this unassuming venue: bitter melon sits cheek by jowl with wild boar, deep green baby zucchini the size of golf scoring pencils rub shoulders with living escargots, fresh-killed deer hangs silent next to a row of ready-to-cook osso bucco. Want a quarter kilo of beautiful jamón serrano or a handful of chile serrano? Both are yours, just step up to the counter at their respective stalls.
Real honest-to-god crunchy-on-the-outside, densely-chewy-on-the-inside baguette to accompany your sausage and cheese! The Travel and Leisure magazine displayed on the lower shelf features the Mercado de San Juan among the 40 travel memories mentioned on the cover.
Among other items (including yet another shopping bag to cart home all our purchases), Mexico Cooks! bought ten lovely baby bok choy, a quarter kilo (half pound) of large, crisp snow peas, and a big hunk of fresh ginger for 33 pesos (about $2.50 USD).
Bottles and jars of Asian spices, sauces, and other condiments, including sesame oil, coconut cream, oyster sauce, snow mushrooms, hoisin sauce, and more. The only thing I didn't see that I sometimes need is thick soy--not black soy, but thick soy, like slightly salty molasses.
Rabbit is extremely popular--and generally quite delicious--as served in Mexico. These, fresh-killed, include the heads. Many are sold with the furry feet still attached. A butcher told me, "Some people think we sell cat meat. The heads or feet are left on to prove that the animals are rabbits."
Preparing machitos for sale. The lacy membrane spread out on the butcher block is caul fat. The butcher is wrapping the fat around a small bundle of tripas (intestines). The packets are steamed, then browned and served in tacos with a spicy red salsa.
The wild mushrooms at the Mercado San Juan during and just after central Mexico's summer rainy season are simply glorious. These giant morels--most are as long as my outstretched hand--are beyond beautiful.
Truly, there isn't another market in all of Mexico that is as beloved by chefs, gourmets, and gastronomes as the Mercado de San Juan. If you fall into any of those categories, let Mexico Cooks! know and I will happily tour you through the market stalls.
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