Mexico, D.F. not the high end, Merced Central Market
A good number of the posts from tourists are for really high end places, and this isn´t one of those. I just want chowhounders not to overlook the taquerias all over the place, had some terrific proper tacos al pastor and tacos suaderos (14 pesos each for the big ones) in streets near the Insurgentes Metro stop, Tacos quisados outside of an Elementary School (Primaria), and a hoot of a time at the big big big market at the Merced Metro stop, wall to wall people, tens of thousands of people bying, selling and hanging out. They were certainly nice to this guy in his effort to find the Artesanal version of Cotija cheese (only made in the rainy season, not pasturized, has what amounts to a DOP control, unlike more industrial cotija, you have to buy the whole thing, about 65 pesos for something like a Kilo if memory serves, rustic bread unavailable, found Serrano Ham and bought a cantaloupe melon for tomorrows lunch. The Merced market like the Abastos in Mexican cities is just thousands of vendors of whatever there is comestible. I got some nice looking mole negro Oaxaqueño paste for 44 pesos for a kilo. I am staying at the PF Suites in the Zona Rosa, which is GLBT friendlier than some places, but the hoot is that its rather Korean, three Korean restaurants in three blocks, and a Korean market where I got some tofu and beansprouts. The relative dearth of fresh vegetables was gettting to me. If I get up early enough, I may go to the Fish Market (La Nueva Viga) tomorrow early, like 3:30 am for a 4 am arrival, take the radio taxi, pals. So far so good on the health issue although maybe the guisado taco with a terrific and hot salsa in addtion to the beef stew at 7 am was a rather abrupt start to the day. The tamale vendors are up early to serve the folks on the way to work and they get collected by 10:30 am and only the hot dog and candy people are left. The hot dogs are truly cheap and since times here are very hard, they´re more popular. They´re quite wet with salsa and the unwary get their shirts stained...
Last full day. Finally got around to trying the quesadillas made with blue corn. These quesadillas can be made using nopal, mole verde, squash blossoms, and mushrooms, in addition to Oaxacan style cheese, chicken and beef and combinations thereof. I tried three quesadillas made with the mole verde and chicken, nopal and cheese, and squash blossoms and mushrooms all very tasty. Three quesadillas is a substantial quanity of food and its $36 pesos, a little more than $3.00 US for what is really interesting street food. The one I ate at is on the literal corner of Londres and Hamburgo, but they´re everywhere, usually from morning till evening. They cook up the tortillas in sort of an elongated football shape on a large metal disc the size of a tire, heated by charcoal. One sits on little plastic stools while they cook them up. No grease on the metal comal, flavors are distinct and direct.
Here's some info on artisan-made queso Cotija.
You'll find the cheese for sale in the DF at:
Clavería 235, at the corner of Avenida Cuitlahuac
Tel. 5342 0099
Open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
I have too much of the supposed and not real cotija to go for more. Next time....
I read about the real stuff exactly in that Mexico Cooks blog.
I made it to la Nueva Viga, the giant fishmarket near the Centro de Abastos. The smell betrays its location blocks away. There are a bunch of stand selling empanadas which I last saw in quantity in Colombia many years ago. Stands also sell sea food, but that´s a given.
The fish market itself is just amazing. It seems to be about twice as big as the one in Guangzhou. The fish market area itself doesn´t smell, the entrance does because that´s where the dumpsters are.
After a long search I located mussels from Baja California, not that cheap at 90 pesos a kilo but they looked good. I took them back to my hotel and bummed a pot and a chef's knife and made mussels with beer, onions, garlic, parsley. Shared some with the room cleaner and returned the pot and knife to the hotel´s cook with a bowl full. Hope he liked them.
The fish market was full of staff and buyers, the quality and freshness were excellent for the fin fish. I am dubious about the custom of bivalves not being on ice so I didn´t go for the clams. It´s not a tourist spot but if you have the means to cook while here and want seafood, this is a fun place to go.