Supermarkets (and more recently, hypermarkets) have been a part of Mexico’s commercial landscape for the last forty years.
In the US and UK, supermarkets have steadily lured custom away from local stores by providing enormous ranges of goods including comestibles, home-wares, hardware and pharmaceuticals. The result has been that many of the local ‘mom and pop’ stores have closed down and vanished from the trading landscape.
In Mexico, this has not come to pass.
It is still possible and practicable to shop for your food locally in Mexico, often a short walk from your home, at stores and open-air markets which provide an abundance of fresh foods delivered to the stores early each morning, or produced daily on the premises.
At these intimate centers of trade, you can get to know the local store owner and his wife, talk with the butcher about which cuts are best for a meal you want to prepare, choose seasonable fruit and vegetables from ripe selections, wrap warm corn tortillas into a cloth cover almost straight from the oven which produces them, and buy delicious and tasty bolillo bread rolls which are baked continuously throughout the day.
The choice of local, specialized, food stores in Mexico’s cities, towns and villages is ample and inviting. Store names you’ll see regularly include:
Frutas y Legumbres (fresh fruit and vegetable stores); Polleria (fresh chicken, they also sell eggs and condiments to compliment chicken dishes); Rosticeria (roast chickens from a spit; they also sell sauces and other condiments to complement a roast chicken meal); Carniceria (butcher, selling a variety of meat, often reared by the owners); Tortilleria (selling freshly pressed, warm tortillas, straight off the machine that makes them); Salchichoneria (delicatessen; selling a range of hams, cold cuts, and other cured meats); Panaderia (fresh bread store); Pescaderia (fish mongers; more often seen at coastal locations).
In addition to the established local stores and open-air markets, you will often see ambulant traders on the street sides selling fresh seasonal produce. These traders most often sell fruit or veg that is currently in abundance due to a glut harvest–examples include mandarins, oranges, pineapples, or mangoes–straight out of the back of a truck, or perhaps off a barrow or folding table which they set-up for the day. It’s an ideal way to buy fresh food at a good price.
While millions of people will continue to patronize the supermarket culture here, there also continues to be a strong demand in Mexico for fresh foods purveyed by local stores and traders. These local shops, open-air markets, and street traders continue to thrive in Mexico, in good part, because they are well supported by local people who pay patronage to them, and the value they represent, with regular custom.
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