Slideshow: Market Scene: Mercado San Juan in Morelia, Mexico

Mamey
Mamey

A delightfully soft, almost creamy fruit (it makes excellent ice creams and milkshakes), mamey is displayed with a wedge of peel pulled down, sticking out like a tongue and exposing the vibrant orange fruit hiding behind the dull brown skin.

The reason behind the peeling is beyond visual; it's the only way to demonstrate the freshness and ripeness of the fruit within.

Pitaya
Pitaya

A type of cactus fruit, which comes in a variety of colors.

Guava
Guava

Aside from being sweet to eat out of hand, the guava is commonly used in Morelia to make ate de guayaba, a sweet paste similar to dulce de membrillo (which is made with quince).

Ciruela
Ciruela

These were introduced as ciruela, which is the Spanish word for 'plum,' but they had little in common with the juicy and sugary-sweet plums from trees in Washington or California. With less pronounced sweetness, a slight acidity comes through in these Mexican plums, somewhat like an unripened plum, but milder, inoffensive, and rather refreshing.

Charal Fish
Charal Fish

The name “Michoacán,” the state in which Morelia is located, comes from the same root word as “Michigan”—they both refer to the giant lakes within their borders, meaning seafood is popular here, including these tiny Charales.

Piloncillo
Piloncillo

A town this well known for sweets is bound to need a lot of sugar. The unrefined, dark piloncillo type requires a little more work to use, but adds depth and great flavor in exchange.

Chamomile
Chamomile

From the medicinal herb table, this chamomile was on sale to be used for its curative and restorative properties.

Squash Blossoms
Squash Blossoms

There's little that a squash blossom loves more than being pressed between tortilla halves with some salty Mexican cheese.

Huitlacoche
Huitlacoche

Some places fight the fungus that grows on corn, but in Mexico they embrace it and call it huitlacoche. Heady and earthy like a morel mushroom, staunchly savory like a cheese, these fungi—sometimes referred to as Mexican truffles—are an excellent taco filling.

Criollo Avocados
Criollo Avocados

Slightly smaller than the Haas avocado commonly found in the U.S., the criollo avocado's peel is also edible. The avocado can be chunked or wedged; when eaten, the texture difference between flesh and skin is barely perceptible, adding just a slight anise flavoring.

Spongy Mexican Cheese
Spongy Mexican Cheese

The airy texture of this cheese caught my eye as I wandered, and our guide explained that it’s cut into pieces and fried until the edges get brown and crispy.

Flavored Powders
Flavored Powders

Flavorings that you can coat a round of jicama on a stick in, making a jicaleta.

Chile Pasilla (also called Chile Negro outside of the area)
Chile Pasilla (also called Chile Negro outside of the area)

Stacks of chilies are everywhere in Mexico. They're a main ingredient in many of the salsas and sauces I encountered on my trip. This display was particularly nicely done; artful, even.

Canela
Canela

Also known as “real cinnamon.” Anyone used to the cassia widely available in the U.S. will be in an aromatic heaven when they catch a whiff of honeyed vanilla buried in the deep cinnamon scent, with little heat but ample warmth.

Fresh Eggs
Fresh Eggs

I just love the matching of the purple stamp to the purple egg crate on these rows of eggs.

Pineapple Vinegar
Pineapple Vinegar

This particular item seems to be rarely made commercially, but is widely available in a homemade version, packaged into recycled Coke or water bottles.

Honey
Honey

A sticky but delicious alternative to the plastic bears that honey comes in at your local grocery store. The vendor just dips the cup in and serves you!