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Adventures in a Mexican Market: When Vegetarians & Pig Heads Collide

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Accidental Locavore Mazatlan MarketDo you feel a trip to a new destination isn't complete without a cruise through a hardware store? Or would you rather check out the local pulse by finding all the dive bars or hidden beaches? The Accidental Locavore wants to go to the markets. Whether I speak the language, or have the opportunity to use anything I might find at the market, I just love to go and wander, see what's available, watch the locals bargaining and commenting on the day's offerings. I've always loved the markets in Mexico, with the piles of chiles, ropes of garlic, mountains of moles and all the tropical fruit.

Accidental Locavore Customer at the MarketThere are usually places to eat in the market where you can pull up a stool and have a great, cheap bite to eat. Unlike the greenmarkets in Manhattan, where you can only sell what you produced, Mexican markets have everything. Need a spell to make that man your slave? Long before 50 Shades, Mexican botánicas had potions for anything you might desire. From souvenirs to sows ears, you can find it there.

Accidental Locavore Chiles and GarlicOn a recent press trip to Mazatlan, the one place I wanted to check out (that didn't appear on our itinerary) was the Mercado Centrale, in the old city. On Saturday afternoon, I convinced our amazing guide Ishmael to drop me at the market for an hour. Two others from our group came along and that's where the fun started!

Remember, when I told you Mexican markets have everything? My shopping list included a hammock, which I quickly found, so was free to wander and decide if I wanted to bring home bags of chiles or not. However, what I didn't tell you was that one of the people accompanying me was a vegetarian. We got past the pile of chickens (and all the various parts of chickens) without incident. Then, while I was taking pictures of some interesting squash, a scream ricocheted throughout the market.

Accidental Locavore Pig's HeadL. had just encountered the pig butchers, and there, in the middle of the ribs and chops, was the (smiling) head of a pig. Initially speechless, she started jumping up and down, pointing and shouting "Oh my God, oh my God!" "It's a pig's head-supposed to make great pâté" I told her. L. did have the grace to realize she might have been overreacting a little, and started laughing, realizing she was surrounded on three sides by pig heads and trotters. And on the fourth?Accidental Locavore Two Butchers The two butchers in the photo. One holding up a large beef liver and its intestines and the other laughing so hard he was almost doubled over. Which of course made all of us laugh a lot harder. It was about at this point, that I decided that perhaps bringing a vegetarian, might not have been the kindest idea, but we all did have a great laugh about it! And now, every time I relax in my new hammock, I remember where it came from and smile.