During my recent visit to Mercado de La Merced in Oaxaca, I embarked on a journey through a world of vibrant colors, rich aromas, and authentic Mexican flavors.
My first encounter was with nopales, the pads of the prickly pear cactus, essential in Mexican cooking. Their versatility and unique flavor highlighted the ingenuity of Oaxacan cuisine.
The prickly pear itself, with its sweet, watermelon-like taste, caught my eye. Its vibrant colors and refreshing flavor are a true representation of the region’s natural bounty.
We stumbled upon Ciruela Mexicana, small, plum-like fruits with a sweet and tart taste. They’re a delightful snack, embodying the essence of Oaxacan summers.
The market also boasted an array of fresh, crisp radishes, adding a peppery crunch to many local dishes.
Then, there was piloncillo, the unrefined cane sugar in its iconic conical form. Its rich, molasses-like flavor is indispensable in many traditional recipes. These are just sweetness in a cone.
The heirloom tomatoes were a feast for the eyes, their beauty promising an equally exquisite taste in my future culinary endeavors.
Among the stalls, tomatillos and various tomatoes were a standout, essential for crafting the perfect Mexican salsa or sauce.
We also discovered this yellow chicken all over the market.
The tejocote, or Mexican Hawthorn, with its apple-like texture and subtle sweetness, was another delightful find, showcasing the diversity of local fruits.
Quesillo, also known as Oaxaca cheese or Mexican string cheese, is a white, semi-hard cheese famous in Mexican cuisine, particularly in the state of Oaxaca. It’s renowned for its distinctive stringy texture, which is achieved through a process similar to making mozzarella. The cheese is stretched into long ribbons and then wound into a ball.
Finally, we got some tlayudas, partially fried tortillas, a convenient and delicious base for creating traditional Oaxacan dishes at home.
Armed with the food we bought in the market, we are ready to do some Mexican dishes with Victor’s guidance.
Location of Mercado de La Merced:
Av. José María Morelos 1522A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Centro, Oax.