Down the street from Santo Domingo Plaza and the museum of the Inquisition in New Spain is Mercado Abelardo L. Rodriguez, a historic neighborhood market filled with lunch stalls, fruit and vegetable stands, and puestos selling cooking staples.. It is known for housing extraordinary murals by students of Diego Rivera, though most visitors to Mexico City are unaware of this landmark.
This is a people’s market, very different from the Mercado San Juan, the upscale, exotic, European-style food court near Palacio Bellas Artes.
Hungarian photographer Agnes Behari sent me there. I met her on the steps of the Santo Domingo Church while I was shooting the texture of the door. She asked about my camera, told me she is an MFA student in documentary photography at the Academy of San Carlos, part of UNAM, and as we were talking the doors to the chapel closed and I never got in. Time for lunch.
Agnes said there are murals by Diego Rivera inside. Not exactly! The murals are by his students who painted them under his supervision. However, once I got there, I was so overwhelmed by market activity and making a decision about which stall to sit down at, I totally forgot about the murals. Something for the next visit!
Food and art. Art and food. What is more important? At the moment, food. And where to eat it. Choosing where to eat can be tricky. Rule of thumb: Look around. Take your time. Determine which place has the most clients with butts in seats. I did this in small rural villages in China fifteen years ago and never got sick.
Antojitos Mexicanos Yucely was packed and people were waiting to take their place on a plastic stool and elbow up to the bar. The daily two-course special — soup and entrée with two sides — was 40 pesos. Add 10 pesos for a bottle of Coca Cola. The 50 pesos total equals about $4. USD in today’s exchange rate.
I ordered a filet of huachinango (red snapper) battered in corn meal, crispy fried with a sweet, perfectly cooked center. I asked for a side of the yummiest potatoes on the planet seasoned with oil, vinegar, onion and jalapeño peppers with just enough bite to make it interesting, plus perfectly steamed vegetable medley of squash, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, and a taste of marinated, sautéed mushrooms. I joined the multitudes with smiles on their faces.
My camera makes for a great conversation piece and before long, people were asking me to take their photos, which I promised to send them via email or Facebook. After lunch became a market portrait session.
Ah, and did I mention that I’m a single woman traveler in Mexico City? Walking everywhere by myself, even as night falls!