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.
A type of cactus fruit, which comes in a variety of colors.
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).
When we asked our guide what the bright, pink peppercorns were used for, she told us, "to hit your siblings with through a straw, like a spitball." Also decorative purposes, but not employed for culinary or flavor purposes.
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.
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.
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.
Fresh Corn Leaves for Corundas
Corundas are a type of triangular tamales. The corn dough is sometimes mixed with cheese and/or vegetables before being folded into one of these large fresh leaves and steamed.
From the medicinal herb table, this chamomile was on sale to be used for its curative and restorative properties.
There's little that a squash blossom loves more than being pressed between tortilla halves with some salty Mexican cheese.
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.
Cactus paddles, which, when peeled and chopped, are used in salads or served over gorditas.
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
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.
Flavorings that you can coat a round of jicama on a stick in, making a jicaleta.
The versatility of this single tiny flower is impressive: in a five-day trip I had it in an agua fresca, a tea, pickled, and candied and fried in a salad. All were amazing.
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.
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.
I just love the matching of the purple stamp to the purple egg crate on these rows of eggs.
Basically just the cutest darned peppers out there. But buyer beware, these tiny guys pack a ferocious punch of heat.
This particular item seems to be rarely made commercially, but is widely available in a homemade version, packaged into recycled Coke or water bottles.
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!