If it’s Tuesday, this must be….market day!
Early Tuesday morning, a steady stream of taxis, delivery vehicles and farm trucks rumble up the hills of the Cuesta de San Jose and Canal Street toward San Miguel’s Tuesday Market, also known as “Tianguis del Martes.” It only takes place on Tuesdays (ergo the name “Tuesday Market,”) between the hours of 9am and 4pm. Just the fact that an open-air market of this size, estimated to be as large as three football fields, can set up and disassemble so quickly for only one day a week makes it worth the trip.
As many times as I have been to San Miguel, I never managed to make it to the Tuesday Market until this trip. Either I was working, or there was a schedule conflict. But this trip, the location of my beautiful casita I had rented for the month was within walking distance. Granted, it had quite a climb up the hill, but ever determined to keep up my walking schedule, it gave me a good reason to keep moving.
I visited the market the first Tuesday I arrived in town, just out for some exercise. As soon as I approached the massive assembly in the midst of dusty crossroads, I could sense the hum of the activity. Having only seen the smaller markets of San Miguel, this place seemed overwhelming! The first thing I observed was unlike most markets that have separate areas with a meat section, a produce section, a bakery section, this was one big free-for-all! No rhyme or reason to the outlay of items for sale….the bras were right next to the beans! I thought, well, maybe it is first come first serve, and it fills up according to who arrives first. But each time I went back, the placement seemed to be the same.
Although I had a list of junk to shop for, I also timed my visit to coincide with lunch. Being a fan of Mexican street food, I had read that there were some unique offerings in the market. After perusing every aisle and stall, though, I ended up taking the safe route and sticking to my tried and true favorite, Tacos al Pastor, pork on a roasting spit, carved right into the warm corn tortilla, sprinkled with onions and cilantro.
Another “experimental” offering which turned out to be a keeper was the “cocktail” stand. But not cocktails in the traditional sense, rather those of a fruit and vegetable variety. I ended up with a three layer cocktail of grated jicama on the bottom (a little like a radish, but sweeter,) grated carrots in the middle, and beets on the top, coated in chili and lime. It is not often easy to find fresh vegetables in Mexico unless you prepare them yourself. Street food or taco stands are mostly meat offerings. So fresh vegetables “to go” were a real treat which I repeated three weeks in a row!
While in San Miguel, I was invited to a really posh party on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. (It was given by a Brit, so we celebrated “midnight London time” at 6:00pm.) While sipping champagne, the conversation of El Tianguis came up. It was fascinating to listen as the well heeled women confessed their shopping secrets regarding which table had the best designer duds. I am told the secret is to arrive before the market opens, as early as 7:30am. There is one lone table in the back that will already be set up, waiting for the early arrivals. Labels like Henri Bendel, Ralph Lauren – the highest prized items being the cashmere.
There was a time when I would have been there lined up at 7:30am with the rest of them, digging through the piles and piles of clothing marked 20 Pesos per item, in search for any brand of cashmere that was anywhere close to my size. These days, I would just rather go where the weather suits my clothes. 😉