Empalme; old railway nexus for northern Mexico, pass thru for anywhere south on the inside Pacific Coast. Huge local fishery. New infrastructure in an old decrepit town creating a desalinization plant as an offshoot of the new electrical plant powered by the US natural gas pipeline. Spanish engineers, new young Mexicans wanting to get ahead and jobs for the general community. Even if only service for something or someone. It feeds the family. Fuels the burgeoning middle class.
No real stores in Empalme. Yes, the torterilla, grocery of sorts, many ‘I can do it’ establishments. The Ferreteria, the Pharmasia. But Sunday, every Sunday is the Tianga. It is the street market which happens in every Mexican town sometime during the week. Everything is available. It is the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the hardware, the furniture store. Used clothing abounds, some with the Value Village tags still attached (illegal to import used clothing into Mexico don’t you know). The Mexican Department Store. Those not selling the above have attached themselves to the cheap Chinese import of everything and anything, the salespitch attached to huge speakers blaring loud music. And, of course, one must not forget the market gardeners and the food vendors. They are spectacular.
I love the art of the stalls. Most do ready made bags. Others weigh and bag. Rarely do they just weigh. These are the local market gardeners. Design is creeping in but Empalme not so much. The natural complement of colour suffices. Greens are tougher. There is no drip watering as in greenhouses. But the taste! Green beans are delicious, snap peas have to be deveined, tomatoes to die for, squash even in season a tich bit dry. Peppers of all sort abound and whether hot or sweet they are marvelous. Can’t count on the heat of anything except the habaneros; sometimes a caribe is blistering. Potatoes are delicious, very wet whether red or white. Bakers are what?
We eat a lot of pork here but I don’t buy it at the open market. Yet I know from the stalls which are the freshest. The head is on the table. The pork is there to buy fresh to take home or cooked in a variety of ways for take out or eating there. No roast loin here; all carnitas (pork confit aka pork slow cooked in it’s own fat), deepfried pieces or a stewed something for tacos. Kristin mentioned that on the East Coast they too favour chicharron (deep fried crackling). I buy mine every Wednesday on my solo trips to the market. My mother loved it. I love it. It is a guilty pleasure, only a few curls to be indulged solitarily as it grosses out most. The texture and taste however I explain it has never done it justice. Sonoran cuisine does a thinly sliced beef on the charcoal grill that is then sliced again very thinly horizontally for tacos. These stands abound. Even most grocery stores have grills that will cook your purchase to order. Chicken is done at home or comes off the spit at a small takeout establishment. Rarely found at street markets. And altho Empalme is shrimp, clam and octopus territory, those vendors for fresh or cooked are separate. Adjacent to but not at the market. It is only Guadalahara or Mexico City in my experience that mix fish/seafood and meat. And those are covered, controlled environments.
It was a nice wander. I bought peas, strawberries, some tiny zuchinni, tiny tomatoes. I have my eyes wide open now for squash blossoms! None on Sunday. One purchase I wish I’d completed: the double yolk eggs. What fun! Next time.