Market Scene: Xochimilco Market, Mexico City

For many foreigners, Xochimilco conjures images of an afternoon of beers and mariachi bands and of lounging on one of the colorful boats known as trajineras that navigate the waterways here. But there's so much more to Xochimilco than booze and boats. There are the collectives that practice small-scale agriculture on the man-made islets called chinampas, the vendors that sell food that is as close to its pre-Hispanic roots as you can get and, of course, the market.

Two weekends ago, as the city was gearing up for Day of the Dead, I headed to Xochimilco with my friend and colleague, Ruth Alegria. Xochimilco is one of her favorite areas in the Mexico City, and she'd long been promising me a tour of the market.

The Xochimilco market is a sprawling affair, made up of not one, but two buildings. Here you'll find everything from flowers and fish tanks to fighting cocks (and some one selling the "sport's" deadly accouterments not more than a few paces away—truly terrifying and disturbing).

Rather than focus on the produce, today I'll talk about the prepared foods I saw and tasted in Xochimilco: tlacoyos, quelite tamales, a truly delicious sope, and much more.