How to choose your fruits and vegetables wisely. And where to get the best price, inside the mercado or outside.
The Municipal Market in La Antigua Guatemala is where most of the area’s populace purchases their necessities— and tourists can sometimes feel lost wandering the busy lane ways.
To explore this maze is an adventure in itself, which is why a market tour is an excellent idea. What better way to navigate those bustling aisles and discover all the quality places than by tagging along with a local chef? I was lucky enough to find such a tour and spend a couple of hours learning the ins and outs of Antigua’s largest mercado.
Chrissy Methmann guides small groups through this labyrinth as she teaches you how to shop like a local: What is in season right now, like loroco, nance and miltomate. How to choose your fruits and vegetables wisely. And where to get the best price, inside the market or outside, depending on your purchase, with the added bonus of a little known market stall or two that sometimes even some locals don’t know about.
For example, nestled beneath a large shed, you’ll find fresh herbs and vegetables at a considerably lower cost than if purchased inside. Why? Because this is where farmers from the surrounding highlands bring their produce to the mercado. The catch being, it is only open from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
Chrissy is also a chef with a wealth of knowledge of food in general and specifically where to locate particular delicacies. When I asked why she started this tour she said, “I love to do it. It’s fun and people always ask me where to find quality things at a good price.” Born out of questions like, “Where did you get your pork? It’s so tender,” and “What’s the best place to buy fabrics?” or “Can you find rice noodles in the market? Really? Where?”
She also knows the best stalls to find quality fresh seafood, meats and sausages, and what days they’re open. She gives you a heads up about the cheapest pharmacy in Antigua, and for a consult on medications an English-speaking doctor is on site. Other aspects of purchases used in everyday life were covered as well—electrical, shoe and leather repair, batteries and dry goods to name a few.
Mercado information in major guidebooks such as Lonely Planet and Frommer’s cannot relay these pearls of wisdom, but one local chef can. If you are interested in a market tour, look on Facebook Events, it’s posted once a month as “Market Tour” or go to facebook.com/christa.methmann. You can email Chrissy at firstname.lastname@example.org
REVUE article text and photos by Belinda Woodhouse
To read about the health benefits of Litchi fruit go to this link at researchgate.net