Growing up I spent some of my childhood years in a smallish town near the Golf of Mexico. My grandparents lived there and, for a while, so did my family. We spent eight years in that town and the one thing I remember the most vividly was the town's busy market.
El Mercado, was a big, squared, red-brick building with a flat roof in the centre of town. It wasn't a pretty structure, but it was red and shiny and was the heart of the town. It was eternally busy with shoppers coming from the surrounding 'ejidos'; an ejido was a rural area of communal land used for agriculture, where families were entrusted plots of land by the government to farm; it also gave them the righ to pass it to their children indefinitely as long as the land was not left idle for more than two years. The 'ejidatarios' or ejido farmers worked the land mostly growing sugar cane for the local sugar refinery and they kept the main town busy.
Photo Sergio HR
My dad went into the family business, tortilla baking, and opened a tortilleria right across the busy market and we were kept busy every day after school helping in it. I used to love going early on Saturday mornings and watch people coming in and out of that market which sold everything you can imagine and more: farming tools, fruits and vegetables, meats, herbs, sweets, spices, crafts, cloths, pinatas, fireworks, toys, ... you name it, they had it. It was like a gigant, old fashion hardware and food store!
Photo from Mexico Desconocido
It also had a section full of eat-in food stalls; simple settings of sponsored old and cold enamel tables & chairs (with the coca-cola or the corona logos), long tiled bars with high stools and in more recent times, plastic tables and chairs (like in the picture), but people were not there for the comfort, they were there for the most amazing foods. I had my very first gordita in that market! There was this stall which sold freshly made juices and smoothies (yes, they've been around a long time!). There was also the woman who made sweet custard pies and the guy who sold puppets right next to the guy who made mango ice-cream by hand in a wood and aluminium bucket.
Photo from Conexion Total
There was one particular food stall that sold nothing but fish and the recipe here, was inspired by the memories I have of my lunchtimes there enjoying a gigant, milkshake type glass of prawn cocktail with freshly made tortilla chips. Man was it good and when I found some lovely prawns in my fridge the other day, the first thing I thought was: prawn cocktail Mercado style. Hope you enjoy it!
In a bowl, put the prawns, onions, chili, lime juice and the tomatoes. Mix well and set aside.
In a jug, put the ketchup, the seven up, tequila and water and mix well to have a thin but not runny sauce. Follow by adding the Kankun Habanero Sauce and combine well.
Pour the boozy ketchup over the prawns and mix well. Follow by gently folding in the avocado cubes. Serve cold in nice glasses accompanied by freshly made corn tortilla chips.
This is a gorgeous dish. We had it for dinner and it was so refreshing! It works as a great starter served in small tequila shot glasses with little spoons to dish it out. Serve it with freshly made corn tortilla chips or salted crackers. A great way to share a food memory with you.