The Surquillo Markets

2013.Aug.02 Friday · 8 comments

in Food & Recipes, Life

Part of why I’d planned two days in Lima before moving on to La Paz was that the young man who used to work for us that I mentioned in the beginning of this series of vacation posts, whose mom has a restaurant in Lima, was going to be in town helping his mom rework the menu. I’d offered to come and spend some time with him and work through some of the ideas. He didn’t show up – he cancelled his trip and just didn’t let me know until the second day I was in Lima. Ah well, youngsters, what can you do? I’d planned out a morning at the Surquillo markets – two of the food markets in the southern part of the city, and headed there on my own – the Mercado #1 was only a few blocks from my hotel and the #2 just a bit further, but still easy walking distance. There’s not a lot that either market offers that I haven’t seen before – mostly because they’re offering much the same produce as I’ve seen in the Trujillo markets – despite being an 8-9 hour drive apart, they’re both on the coast and share similar climates and sources of produce. So, pictures.

Surquillo markets
The main entrance to Mercado #1.

Surquillo markets
It’s a big circular building that’s got a selection of food stands covering pretty much everything you might want – an outer circle and then an inner grid that’s mostly butcher stands.

Surquillo markets
Okay, these were new. Those are, yes, watermelons, about the size of a thumb. What great little watermelon pickles those might make. The woman selling them had no idea what someone might do with them, but she thought they were cute. She hadn’t sold any yet.

Surquillo markets
The biggest cinnamon sticks I think I’ve ever seen.

Surquillo markets
I think these are olluqutios, if not, a tuber quite similar in look – they are a bit shinier and smoother than the ones we get in BA.

Surquillo markets
Caiguas – a tree pod that’s used as a vegetable. Very mild flavor, we sometimes just slice them and add them to salads.

Surquillo markets
A variety of chilies.

Surquillo markets
And, all the offal you might consider eating.

Surquillo markets
Tumbas – close relative of passionfruits – I found it a little more acidic, but the young man who gave me one to try said that’s because he gave me an underripe one instead of a ripe one (the brighter yellow, the riper). Umm, okay, thanks.

Surquillo markets
Sausages and cured meats.

Surquillo markets
A variety of potatoes and onions.

Surquillo markets
And cheeses galore.

Surquillo markets
Mercado #2 is a low, single story rectangle taking up a square block or two. It’s, shall we say, grittier.

Surquillo markets
It’s also more of a flea market, or at least a mixed market, with everything from household goods to toys to clothing to some produce and meats, though not near the selection at Mercado $1.

Surquillo markets
It does, however, have food stands where you can grab a bite to eat. Did I mention grittier?

On to La Paz….


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tobias August 5, 2013 at 14:05

Just read this post. Where in Buenos Aires can you actually buy some rarer vegetables? I have never seen any caiguas or olluqutios here and in general find that there rarely is a wide variety in regular stores.

Any tip where to find some more andean vegetables and/or european stuff like herbs?

dan August 5, 2013 at 17:45

The Bolivian and Peruvian markets in Liniers…

For “European stuff like herbs” – any fruit and vegetable market in the city and most supermarkets carry a range of herbs – just ask if they’re not out on display, as many of them keep them wrapped up and refrigerated. Between the half dozen verdulerias within a couple of blocks of us in Recoleta I can get parsley, thyme, oregano, chives, sage, cilantro, dill, mint – all in season of course, right now it’s winter, so the selection is more limited.

Tobias August 6, 2013 at 09:30

Thank you so much for your quick and kind answer!

I thought Liniers would be a pain in the ass to get to from where I live (Olivos) but it is actually just one Bus and about an hour so I will probably check it out, just need to get informed about the cuisine in general before I go…

As for the herbs I did already see the ones you mention, but wonder wether you have ever encounter one of the below:

Marjoram, Tarragon, (Winter) Savory, Chervil (?), Lavender, Borage, Garden Cress, Sorrel, Garden Burnet?

I am German so I hope the translations do make sense. There are some classic German and French dishes that I would like to make but I am still expanding my knowledge about supply in BA.

Thanks for your time! Your side has helped a lot already!

dan August 6, 2013 at 09:44

Most of those, no – they’re just not grown in Argentina – it’s a different climate and different plants. There are plenty of other local herbs you’ll find. The only ones of those I’ve seen, in season, are Lavender and Tarragon. I’m pretty sure the others are simply not available here unless you grow them yourself.

Tobias August 6, 2013 at 10:59

I expected as much. I will just have to bring some seeds in the next time and try to grow them, thanks anyway!

I remember buying some great herbs in Salta, that I used for Mate. Any idea for a good place to start researching local herbs?

dan August 6, 2013 at 11:28

Just go to the markets and buy them, ask questions of the sellers about what they use them for – I’ve found people to be really great about sharing ideas and recipes over my years here – especially in places like the Liniers markets. Also, make friends with one or more of the street sellers of vegetables and herbs – the Bolivian women who camp out on corners and sell stuff – I find that I don’t even have to make the trip to Liniers most of the time anymore if I know what I want, I just ask them to bring it the next day and they do.

Tobias August 6, 2013 at 13:56

Many thanks! I appreciate your help, I will certainly try this and find some nice inspiration.

Keep up the good work, I enjoy reading your blog very much!

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