May 032010
 

Zihuatanejo’s Municipal Market, or Mercado, is located on Boulevard Benito Juarez, close to the downtown core. It’s on the regular Micro bus route and anyone will point you in the right direction if you can just say “mercado” (mehr-kah-doh)

It can be disconcerting to the shopper used to serve-yourself supermarket aisles to find yourself in a market in which you don’t have that much hands-on control over what you’re buying, especially when you don’t know the language to ask for what you want! Nevertheless, a walk through the market can be a totally fascinating and fully sensory experience. The shopkeepers can be very understanding and helpful, and a lot of them know enough English to know what you’re searching for if you tell them clearly and slowly (not necessarily loudly).

Mexican market produce

Mexican market produce

Here in the Zihuatanejo market, as in so many of the town and village markets all over the country, piles of fresh fruits and vegetables form a palette full of brilliant color. There are giant heads of elephant garlic and mounds of red beets; a variety of green lettuces, spinach, swiss chard, and other greens; tomatoes galore; mandarins and juice oranges; fresh herbs and pungent chile peppers of every shade.  You’ll find produce that you may never have seen anywhere else before, such as chayotes (a light green, pear-shaped squash), epazote or pigweed (an herb used in many Mexican dishes such as beans, quesadillas, and Sopa de Hongos), jícama (a crunchy and refreshing root vegetable) and pitahaya (a cactus fruit whose shape is reminiscent of a grenade that, when sliced in half, presents a beautiful center of white flesh speckled with small black seeds surrounded by the electric pink of its skin).

Pitahaya fruit

Pitahaya fruit

For some, the meat area of the market is to be avoided. Everything is on graphic display and these displays often  invade the aisles. Almost all of Zihuatanejo’s meat dealers now have refrigerated display cases and freezers in the back of their small stalls, even though certain cuts, such as the dried and salt-cured meats, are hung over the cases at room temperature. The fish market toward the back of the building offers everything from jumbo shrimp to octopus to fresh tuna steaks and a variety of whole fish. You can pick out your catch and have the fishmongers clean and fillet as desired. Getting there early is always better.

Dried nuts, seeds, beans, rice, and spices are in yet another section. Here, milk comes in boxes and eggs often come in bags. There are areas where you’ll find hardware, clothing and footwear, dairy products, and packaged goods such as cereals. Here will be a stand selling health foods and medicinal herbs, and there will be another selling rip-off brand sunglasses and cosmetics. The market is also a place where a lot of the local residents go to have lunch, or just pick up a fresh barbecued-pork torta (the Mexican equivalent of a submarine sandwich) or chicken taco to go. Juicing stands offer liters of fresh-squeezed orange juice, carrot juice, beet juice, green juice. Food stands exist here that will serve you just about anything, and for a very low cost.

The market is definitely one of Zihuatanejo´s more colorful and authentic cultural experiences and worth many a visit whether you are just here on holiday or are a semi- or permanent resident.

Zihuatanejo market

Zihuatanejo market

Other food shopping options: the Supermarkets

If you’d rather shop at a conventional grocery store, Zihuatanejo has the Comercial Mexicana and the Bodega Aurrera super markets, where you can find everything from meat and dairy products to bathing suits and garden supplies, all arrayed on the standard shelves and racks within easy reach of the customer.

The Comercial Mexicana (often just called the “CM” or “La Comer”) is located on Paseo de la Boquita (along the canal), a few blocks inland from Plaza Kioto.

The Bodega Aurrera, usually shortened to simply “la Bodega”, is located in Zihuatanejo on the main Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa highway just up from the Fuente del Sol and the Town Hall.

Both have ample parking, accept credit and debit cards and have convenient ATM machines installed on the premises.

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