I absolutely adore visiting real Mexican markets. I'm not talking about the uberclean supermarkets like we have here, rather I'm enchanted by the sprawling outdoor markets of Mexico where you can find almost anything on earth, from fingernail clippers to voodoo herbs to fruits you've never heard of and live insects to eat. Every corner turned is an entire new world in a Mexican market. And even though I've been through the Cuernavaca market a million times, I'm still surprised every time by something new.
The carniceria, or butcher area, of the Mexican market is especially jarring. The smell of death hangs in the air like sausages adorning a shop, combining with the odor of bleach and fresh meat for an assault on the senses that is not for everyone. I've had friends request a quick retreat from the carniceria and although I like being there, I can't blame anyone for a hasty exit. I've spent years wondering if I should consider being a vegetarian, if I should join in solidarity with my animal brothers in opposing the consumption of our four-legged friends. I've read books like Slaughterhouse and Mad Cowboy wondering if they'd trip the trigger to my future veganism. And I've walked through Mexican markets where pig heads lollygag on piles of decorative herbs, some heads cut open straight down the middle to show the fine dining delights residing behind their faces. Still I don't turn away from meat, it's too wickedly delicious. Oh sure, I took that ten year hiatus from pork after living in West Africa, but the bacon pulled me back in eventually. Bacon is my vegetarian kryptonite.