Mondo Carne! - El Mercado Martínez de la Torre

The great (of pen and girth) food writer R.W. Apple dreamed of spending his final days in Lyon in a wheelchair, being pushed from bouchon to bouchon by a vegetarian, eating his way to carnivorous oblivion. I would stay closer to home and spend a few days ingesting the pure-cholesterol heaven of carnitas, barbacoa, chorizo and chicharrón. It can all be had at the huge and bustling Mercado Martínez de la Torre. Located east of the barely functioning Buenavista train station in working class Colonia Guerrero, it's easy to get to by metro - simply hop the no. 3 or B to the "Guerrero" stop. The venerable vendors of this über-popular beehive of gastronomic activity recently took to the streets to protest the opening of a Walmart-owned superstore being planned nearby. This and other mega-stores have been systematically reducing sales in the 300 traditional markets throughout the capital - don't get me going....

But here at the Mercado Martínez things are in full swing. Fruits, vegetables and meats of every variety were being snatched up by voracious local shoppers on a recent Monday. But best of all, this market is known for its taco stands, featuring - you guessed it- meat. Largest of all is the amazing Tacos 'Lola la Trailera', which occupies both sides of an aisle smack dab in the middle of the market. Named after an eponymous '80's hit of Mexican trash cinema, its "madrina" (or patroness) is the buxom star of this 'Frijolywood' film classic, Rosa Gloria Chagoyan, who, they claim, is a friend of the owner. Here you'll find tacos of grilled meats: cecina (salted pork), costilla (pork ribs), longaniza (a less fatty chorizo) and grilled beef. Salsas, red and green, are hand-made in the molcajete and horchata is the house libation.

Nearby are several barbacoa stands. My favorite is conveniently named La Mejor. Lamb (a generous word--it's really mutton) is pit roasted in maguey leaves (maguey is the cactus used for mezcal and tequila). Succulent and aromatic, it is served as tacos with onion, cilantro, lime and some extraordinarily dark earthy salsa. To immerse yourself completely in ovine rapture order a bowl of consomé culled from the pan.

If all this isn't enough to satisfy your primal cravings, there are also several carnitas ("confit" of pork) stands and a "chicharronería" (my term) with a chitlin display that has to be seen to be believed. For those who miss their grandma, a couple of large "caldo de gallina" (chicken soup) boothes will warm your heart. And the sea is not left untapped - a fresh shrimp cocktail awaits around the bend.
So save the tofu for a rainy day and dive in for a meaty repast. And don't forget to do a little shopping while you're at it - bargains abound. Do your part and support our boys behind the aprons!

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