Every couple of months Saturday afternoon comidas at my mom´s feature really yummy food: tuna sashimi, fresh fish ceviche, chewy rough country bread with Spanish Manchego cheese and olive oil, grilled langoustines, perfect manila mangoes and soft mamey. Yummmmm….
While the meal doesn´t sound exactly Mexican the San Juan market experience certainly is! I have gone to the market on Saturdays for a decade now. My grandma “Abu”, my mom, my sister and I would pile into the car and take the tip to the crowded confusing streets of Historical Downtown Mexico City. We would always get lost (and incredibly still do) but finally after a lot of going around in circles we would park the car and enter foodies paradise!
Latley Abu hasn´t been to San Juan with us and Phia and Lu haven´t been fed mini mangoes and tostadas dipped in cream and cheese by the vendors yet but the San Juan´s Mexican foodie experience still means:
-Luis, the nicest most interesting philosopher-cheese merchant ever. While you try to choose among the cheeses and cold cuts from around the world Luis always asks what type of cheese you like and while you attentively listen to his very valuable lessons about people and life he magically produces a delicious “tapa” of sliced country bread with good olive oil a chunk of the cheese you mentioned along with a small plastic cup of wine. He then offers you dessert, bread with thickly spread mascarpone and honey along with a tiny cup of Espresso coffee. The best part is that he offers all this bounty BEFORE he knows if you are buying a 10 dollar kilo of Mexican Canasta cheese or a 400 dollar kilo Spanish Serrano ham.-Stalls that specialize in “gusanos de maguey” maguey plant worms, ants’ eggs and acociles, river worms eaten alive! In tacos of course.
-The fishmonger “Ricardo” warmly greets us by name (thanks to Abu who talked to everyone who could answer back). While we chat to Ricardo about his family he busily prepares free! samples San Juan style (small disposable plates of tuna and dordado sashimi with soy, sesame, lime dipping sauce or crab legs and shrimp with cocktail sauce). While we wait for our order Ricardo shares his secret for the yummy dipping sauce (Gram Masala spice that a costumer brought him from India).
-Four types of mangos, rambutan, jicama, pommengranede and papayas sitting side by side with commonplace bananas, apples and oranges, all carefully arranged to look like a beautiful still life.
-The smiling meat vendor who cheerfully explain that the miles and miles of white tripe are used to wrap the machitos (sheep’s testicle´s!!!!)
Photos are by ebarrera, but I promise to take my camera (and Lu) along on the next trip. By then she will probably be eating mango!