A Gastronomic Adventure Worth Repeating: Mercado San Juan @Societe_MX

 

We should all operate outside of our comfort zone every once in a while.

I’m not much of meat eater. And while I do eat meat, I absolutely do not like to think about where it comes from.

At all.

So, a trip to Mercado San Juan, an exotic gastronomic meat market, with my friend was extremely ambitious for me. We had heard about the legendary Mercado San Juan, but neither of us had ever been and we really wanted to go. Countless food bloggers rave about the market and foreign foodies visit DF just to view the assortment of hard-to-find, highly coveted items.

Mercado San Juan is more than 120 years old. Built atop the land that the Aztecs used as a market for trading and located very close to the historic district of Mexico City, this market is actually not one but two medium-sized markets. While close in proximity to one another, the markets are roughly four or so city blocks apart, separated by a modest Chedraui, a large chain grocery store.

We ended up spending almost six hours at the two markets. There was much to discover. Below, I’ve included some of the highlights. In another visit I promise to cover other vendors with different offerings.

For now, I’ll share cheese, coffee, fish and vegetable favorites.

IMG_8704Cheese.

A day or two before we visited the market, Societe Perrier posted an article on the mercado.  After reading the article, I immediately wrote and asked where we should go when visiting the market for the first time. The answer: La Jersey, a cheese shop. A bit more research revealed that La Jersey was extremely popular on the internet with other food bloggers as well. La Jersey specializes in imported cheese, has knowledgable cheese mongers and offers generous samples of cheese with wine.

All cheese lovers like this.

Per Perrier, we sought out the booth and spent two hours sampling cheese and drinking wine. I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten so many delicious cheeses or enjoyed such generous samples. The  cheesemonger was very knowledgable and paired cheeses very well. We ate so much wonderful cheese and stayed for so long, that we were unable to eat lunch afterwards. The lack of delicious cheese in DF made our long visit to La Jersey worth it. We were thrilled to discover some of our favorite cheeses and try some new ones too! La Jersey also had delicious prosciutto and sausages as well. Big thank you to Societe Perrier for the recommendation!

Try coffee at Triana, it's great!

Try coffee at Triana, it’s great!

Coffee.

When we visited Mercado San Juan, it was cold and raining. We took a break from the rain and sat at a bright orange coffee counter located toward the front of the market. Turns out, the counter we visited was a Mexican coffee brand from Veracruz called, “Triana”.

The cafe was decorated with photos of famous chefs from all over the world. These chefs had visited the market and included the coffee shop on their cooking segments. The guy behind the counter was friendly and helpful.  He poured us two cups of his personal favorites and we enjoyed them both. The counter was clean and cheery–a welcome departure from the rain. As we sat there, other customers stopped by: chefs from embassies, a pair of Japanese tourists and a few other Americans. For some reason, they did not sell coffee beans at the store, which was a bummer because the coffee was delicious and it would be a nice present for myself or someone else. Still, I highly recommend the coffee counter for a shopping break.

His cerviche is incredible

His cerviche is incredible

Fish.

Perhaps the best thing about sitting at the coffee counter and chatting with the barista, was quizzing him about his favorite vendors.  While chatting, he introduced us to his favorite fishmonger, who happened to walk past.

We later visited the fishmonger at his stand where he made us ceviche from scratch (had we known there was going to be so much eating, we never would have considered lunch!). The ceviche was delicious.

Apparently, it’s a favorite of Televisa executives and they often special order it. Pescaderia Eladio’s had beautiful red snapper, shrimp and a very tasty hot sauce. The booth is on the front corner of the market, if you decide to visit, booth 83. We’re having a party next month and all of the fish will be coming from Eladio’s.

She supplies the veggies to the Green Corner

She supplies the veggies to the Green Corner

Vegetables.

And, last but not least, I met a wonderful woman named Flor.  I noticed her booth because of the beautiful straw bags hanging from the top.  After selecting a bag, I took a look at her vegetables.

They were nothing short of perfection.

She explained that she has a farm outside of the city and that she grows organic vegetables. Her vegetables are carried at a popular organic grocery store, the Green Corner, and she also manages a small stand at Mercado San Juan.  She insisted that we try everything before we purchased it. Her confidence in her products was incredible. I thought her prices were fair and her products were high quality. I purchased a lot of fruits and vegetables from Flor, and one of her colorful straw bags for Manuela. If you decide to visit Flor, you can find her at booth 194.

Vendors showcase their products with pride!

Vendors showcase their products with pride!

Epilogue.

Despite my personal reluctance to touch or eat any of the many meats on display, I was impressed by the quality. Every vendor we met was willing to stop what they were doing and discuss their products. From suggested cooking tips to sharing details about the farms the animals came from, I found every vendor informative and friendly. The people of this market take pride in the products they sell and love what they do. No one cared whether or not we purchased anything from them or not. They were happy to chat, proud to be asked about their products and to happy educate us.  Initially, we had planned to spend two hours at the market, but ended up leaving after six. We spent the bulk of our time sampling small bites and chatting with vendors. Unexpectedly, our visit quickly became a gastronomic adventure worth repeating.

If you go, let me know.

About Orange Marigolds

Welcome to "Orange Marigolds". My name is Kim, and I am the editor of this blog. I write food, travel and lifestyle articles. I love Halloween and host a lot of fun giveaways! I live in Michigan with my husband, son and dogs. Thanks for visiting.
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45 Responses to A Gastronomic Adventure Worth Repeating: Mercado San Juan @Societe_MX

  1. segmation says:

    I just came back from La Boqueria Market in Barcelona which is also one of the best markets in the world. I will have to go to Mexico and see Mercado San Juan don’t I! What awesome shots!

  2. Pecora Nera says:

    That looks like the best place to buy meat, but I also prefer meat to look less like meat and more like a tray with cling film over it.

  3. Oh my gosh! Those pigs! Reminds me of my time living in Belarus. Thanks for sharing!

  4. MaitoMike says:

    Awesome post! You had me at cheese and coffee. I’ll definitely have to try out ‘Triana’ when I visit Mercado San Juan!

  5. coldteabreak says:

    It is 3:00 am right now, and you got me craving meat! 🙂 Nice post!

  6. Where’s the clear plastic that covers it! Reminds me when I took my fourteen year old daughter to Chinatown in San Fransisco to eat. She was looking for McDonald’s.

  7. My great grandfather had a store in that market! I didn’t get to meet neither one of them but I was told by my late grandfather that his store was one of the biggest in the market. In it they sold all kinds of foods (this was in the early 20th century, no food was packed!) and groceries. Apparently they would speciallize in overseas products from Spain and other parts of Europe. My grandfather told me that they used to sell a lot of ingredients to famous restaurants. There are so many stories my grandfather told me about Mercado San Juan that whenever I’ve been there I can almost feel regret for not being born earlier and meeting both the market and my great grandfather who was also aparently an avid reader of history and phillosophy. I particularly remember one story: My grampa went to the market every morning as a child to sell wrapping paper (nothing was packed back then) before going to school. He’d write the names of those sellers who said would pay later and this one time he wrote a sort of snarky nickname of this old fat lady. She took the notebook from my grampa and asked him ‘did you write my name?’ of course my grampa blushed in shame, just when she said ‘how nice it is that you can read and write; I never got to learn how to’. 🙂
    Thanks for your post and congratulations on being freshly pressed. By reading it, I wish my grampa was here, by my side to tell me more stories about Mercado San Juan. I miss him a lot, and your post gave me a nice opportunity to remember him and honor him once again.

    • amovingstory says:

      Joaquin– Thank you for sharing those stories. They’re great. I think we’ve all had something awful like that happen—when your grandpa wrote the note about the lady and then she was impressed and proud that he could read. Those kinds of stories are good lessons for everyone. They remind us how lucky we are, even when we’re not at our nicest. 🙂 My relatives too, used to have a grocery store and I too wish I could go back in time and see it. I am so proud of it—just like you. Thanks for reading and sharing your wonderful story.

  8. Did you buy any cheese after all that tasting?

  9. andy1076 says:

    wow now this feels like a true market, fresh food you can smell taste and try! awesome! 🙂 🙂

  10. cameronafzal says:

    Oh man you’re making me hungry. Good post!

  11. i’m hungty like a wolf 🙂

  12. Jessica says:

    An excellent, excellent post and point. We don’t think enough about where our food comes from… The things that are no big deal around the world *are* a big deal to softies thousands of miles away, though… People like me! I lived in Taiwan for two years and was surprised to see things not unlike the pictures you posted above when I first arrived. It took some getting used to… Great post! And I completely agree that it’s SO important to get out of your comfort zone once in a while!

  13. joisjustkidding says:

    Looks and sounds wonderful!

  14. That market looks awesome!

  15. Great pics! Growing up in Russia, our markets often looked just like that. Whole animals carcasses, whole fish and chicken, etc. Nowadays everything is so pretty and sterilized, fileted and cleaned and packaged, I’d be surprised if most American kids knew what their food looked like in its original state. I hope to be able to take my future kids to a market like this so they can feel more connected to the nature whence the food on our table came from!

    • amovingstory says:

      Agree–it is always amazing to see the reaction of kids when they go to farms, mercados, etc. I went to a corn farm with some kids and their mouths were hanging open. They couldn’t believe that he food came from the GROUND! 🙂 Thanks for reading and replying!!

  16. Rachel says:

    Good for you! I used to frequent a market called San Juan de Dios in Guadalajara. They had great fruit but I never ventured to eat at the prepared food stands… There were hundreds all smushed together. It was definitely a sight though.

  17. Daile says:

    I’m visiting Guadalajara in May/June and this is going to be on my ‘to do’ list after reading this!

  18. Oh I would love to go to Mexico ! Very nice blog 🙂

  19. Mz Zoomer says:

    What a fun story and some pretty interesting pictures to boot! Have been to Mexico many times but I have yet to experience what I call “the real Mexico”. Someday I hope too. This is eminently more fascinating than the beaches in my opinion. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Nigel says:

    What’s up colleagues, pleasant post and pleasant arguments commented here, I am actually enjoying by these.

  21. visafacile says:

    Reblogged this on http://www.visa-facile.com and commented:
    Nice article ! Good job !

    V.F Team

    http://www.visa-facile.com
    Le spécialiste du visa pour la Russie, le Cameroun, le Congo, l’Inde, le Congo, la Chine… Informations sur les ambassades et consulats.

  22. artchacon says:

    Very interting and nice pictures

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