It is no secret I have a passion for markets. I have visited quite a few in Mexico now but I must admit the ones in the state of Oaxaca have a special atmosphere. The Tlacolula market still maintains the principles of the pre-hispanic tianguis or street market and it is one of the oldest in the region.
It takes place on Sundays and it’s a meeting and exchange place for the indigenous people from the Central Valleys of the State of Oaxaca. One of the old traditions still very much alive is the “trueque”, the exchange of products at the end of the day between sellers in particular. If there is excess product at the end of the day, it can be exchanged depending on your family needs without money being involved.
The Tlacolula market is huge and you can easily and gladly lose yourself for hours. There is so much to see, the colorful costumes and scarfs
The memorable faces
The exotic produce like these Chapulines or grasshoppers, a highly appreciated snack in Oaxaca and a few other states. They are usually toasted with salt, garlic, lime juice and sometimes even with chiles. Chapulines are often served in tlayudas (very big corn tortillas typical of the State of Oaxaca which you can top with for example beans, lettuce, different kinds of meat like beef, pork or chicken and chorizo. It is always accompanied by a spicy sauce made with different kinds of chiles), tacos or quesadillas.
The different types of meat and sausages
The Chicharron or crispy pork skin (on the right) which is always present as one of Mexico’s delicacies
The different types of Cocoa beans as there is a strong chocolate tradition in Oaxaca
And always someone selling hot chocolate throughout the market like this mother and her sweet daughter
The green pottery typical of Oaxaca as well as other painted pottery. I can never resist and always end up by bringing some pieces home
But the most famous pottery is without a doubt the black one. It owes its colour to the type of clay used, it is not painted. You get the shiny black look by polishing it when the clay is almost dry with a curved quartz stone.
The basketry is also beautiful as well as the famous “molinillos” that you see on the table, used to make the hot chocolate foamy. I own two and use them often, love the foam that it creates.
And of course we cannot forget the food…
Nice boiled sweet potatoes
And not so healthy sweets
And finally all the fresh produce
And no day at the market would be complete without the chiles. The state of Oaxaca has a great variety of chiles, some I had never seen before. The degrees of spiciness vary and they all have a very distinct taste. It is fascinating to smell them and learn about their uses. Needless to say that if you stepped into my pantry, you would notice the intricate smell from all the different types of chiles I bought. I’m even drying some “chiles de agua” (chile grown in the valley of Oaxaca and quite expensive due to its small production. It is usually stuffed with minced meat or cheese but can also be used in sauces) for future use.
If you can, take some time to visit markets in Mexico. It is an unforgettable experience, one you will always remember. If you visit Oaxaca, then the Tlacolula market would be a great choice. There is really so much to see, experience, taste, smell…