As soon as you enter Mercado Jamaica, one of Mexico City’s largest markets, you will quickly see (and smell) its main trade: flowers. Down the long aisles, hundreds of sellers line up colorful flowers that come from Xochimilco and other states. Visiting the market truly engages all the senses.
But, you may ask, how does this include taste? Well, Jamaica Market happens to be home to several outstanding food vendors, among them one of our favorite taco stands in all of Mexico City. Hidden away among the market’s produce vendors, this stand doesn’t have a sign, and you can easily miss it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Once you find it, though, you’ll keep coming back for their superb green chorizo tacos.
Juventino Gananami Barrios, the owner of Las Más Altas Montañas (the taquería may not have a sign, but it does have a name), has been coming to the market for 40 years; for the last 25 years he has been making his own sausages there. Juventino is from Toluca, a city located a few miles west of DF that is famous for its chorizos. Every day of the week, except Tuesdays, Juventino and his staff make the trip from Toluca to Mexico City to set up shop at the market.
Pine nuts, peanuts and almonds are what give the green chorizo its unique taste and crunch.
Our favorite taco is hands down the green chorizo. Red chorizo is common in Mexico City, but the green variety is rare, and finding a place that sells it freshly made is even rarer. The color of the chorizo (always made from pork meat) comes from the cilantro, green peppers and pumpkin seeds used in its preparation. But the pine nuts, peanuts and almonds that Adrian Panolla, Juventino’s right-hand man, adds to the mix are what give the sausage its unique taste and satisfying crunch.
Besides the green chorizo, Juventino and his meat crew also offer the classic red chorizo, moronga (blood sausage), and cecina (thin layers of salted beef). This last item is brought directly from Yecapixtla, a town in the northeast state of Morelos known for its excellent cecina. All these meats are served as tacos or sold by the kilo. People come from all over the city to shop at this stand, purchasing kilos of meat for either reselling or their own consumption. However, the experience of sitting down among piles of produce and the market buzz to enjoy a delicious taco has no comparison.
The salsas made at this market taquería are also exceptional. There are three elements to a taco: a soft corn tortilla, a filling that usually ranges from vegetables to prepared meats and a salsa that brings all the flavors together. Every taquería has its own salsa recipes, and Las Más Altas Montañas is proud of its green salsa, made with avocado, fresh green peppers and cilantro, and its red salsa, made with tomatoes and chile de árbol. A salsa can make or destroy a taco, and in the case of Las Más Altas Montañas, their salsas perfectly complement the beautiful meat.
When we finish our green chorizo tacos, we usually wander back to the aisles of flowers and pick up a bouquet to bring home – a reminder of this joyful market and the culinary secrets hiding within it.
Editor’s note: For those interested in getting to know the Mercado Jamaica better, CB offers a guided walk through the market. As Mexico City gets back on its feet after the earthquake on September 19, what it needs most are visitors to jump-start the economy. The city is very well prepared for situations of this sort and, as a result, is open for business.