The “tianguis” and markets are more than a simple space for buying and selling: they are places where the heart of the wealth of Mexican culture beats. Here, the country’s flavors, colors and aromas are concentrated. Along their corridors you can hear the voices of the vendors, shouting in their mischievous tone, so characteristic of the Mexican people. Everywhere, you can see the original signs inviting you to buy, announcing fruits, meat, or cheese “at the best price”. Pick up a grocery bag and venture out to meet them!
Pablo Neruda said it very well: “Mexico is in its markets”. And it is in these places, dating back to pre-Hispanic times, where the Mexican heart and culture is kept. While traditional markets have their own space and are open every day, the “tianguis” are provisional and set up for business on the streets one day a week. For the ancient Indians, the bazaars were a place for swaps, for coexistence and cultural expression; there they bought and sold their products, set up civil and religious events, and made major decisions for their communities.
The Tlatelolco “tianguis”, the largest in Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Mexica empire –, was described by the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes as a place where thousands of people came every day to sell and purchase a wide variety of products. It is said that in this trading center, where up to fifty thousand people came together in one day, the products from the farms, clay and stone pots, fish and seafood, flowers and exotic fruits, stews prepared while the customer waited, seeds, vegetables, honey, salt, spices, meat, poultry, eggs and many other products were sold.
Today, you can find these fascinating spaces almost all over the country. If you want to soak up Mexican culture, you must get lost in their corridors, and keep your senses wide open. You will be in for more than one surprise!