El Pochote, organic market in Oaxaca

This has been our favorite market so far. Partly because it’s small enough to try every food stall, but with enough diversity to make you feel like you’re at an organic food festival. Italian pastries and Korean noodle bowls sit side by side. Tortillas are filled with squash blossoms and bean flowers. Take your pick of passion fruit juice, horchata with tunas (cactus fruit), chocolate atole, or fresh organic coffee. This is a tucked away market behind the Santo Tomás church, where the shady picnic tables invite you to stay through the morning and eat another round in the afternoon.

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The first person I talk to is Misael. He’s standing at a booth with a basket of purple shallots, a few sticks of vanilla and a row of embroidered blouses. A red and black blouse catches my eye and as I pull it off the hanger I asked him about his random assortment of products. He tells me that everyone in his hometown of San Felipe has always grown things organically for themselves, in their own backyards. Five years ago in an effort to generate more employment, Misael’s brother started an association in which everyone grew a little more, so that they could sell as a collective. Today they had shallots for sale, and the blouses were made by the women in his town. I’m still unclear about the vanilla. Next to him there are two women with a similar story, their town has been farming organically since the 1970’s and since the Pochote market started about seven years ago, they’ve had a consistent place to sell in Oaxaca.

Down from Misael, a beaming, jovial, unmistakably Italian baker stands behind rows of pastries. Sandro (short for Alessandro) is married to a Korean woman, Gyo, and together they sell food at the organic market and have a small farm and restaurant outside of Oaxaca. We couldn’t decide between the cornbread muffin and the pan para enamorarse, a bread filled with edible flowers.

Across from Sandro’s croissants and sushi bowls, a woman fills tortillas with vegetables and chicken on a comal, a flat clay griddle used to make tortillas and other foods, and an elderly lady makes chocolate the traditional way, with a molinio, a wooden whisk, that froths the chocolate inside of a clay bowl. There are figs and goat cheese at another stall, the cheese sits displayed next to toy figurines of goats and the figs sit in a bucket on the ground. It’s this mix of traditional and incidentally trendy, this reminder that farming organically is old and the marketing of it is new, is what we like about this market. It’s pleasant and delicious and surprising, but it’s not precious.

Pochote Xochimilco: Friday and Saturday, 8:30-3:30. In the park of Santo Tomás. Col: Xochimilco.

Sidenote: On your way out of the market walk down the street Santo Tomás and you’ll hear pedaling of looms, knock on a door (we know it sounds awkward, but just follow your ears) and ask if you can check out the weaving process. There you’ll find people making the colorful table cloths, bed spreads and curtains that are all over Oaxaca. If you have some time you can order one with the colors of your choice.

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2 Responses to “El Pochote, organic market in Oaxaca”

  1. Peggy
    June 16, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    love the pics, love the stories!!

  2. toni casal
    June 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Yummmm! I have eaten at this market, in fact off of that comal. The Italian baker and his wife also put out an amazing, fresh basil, tomato pasta. Best enjoyed under the trees in this little church plaza. I’m glad to hear you also felt the need to linger there.You have captured the scene perfectly.