The origin of mercados (markets) dates all the way back to when man first started trading. In fact, before the Aztecs, extensive trade networks predated them by at least hundreds of years. Mercados were always common places that held daily necessities and continue to do so to this day. Today, local mercados are thriving more than ever in urban areas, because of their affordable and fresh produce along with other goods such as candy, toys, ceramic art pieces, clothes, electronics, perfumes, and even plants. These low priced goods are what keep locals coming to these community mercados more so than your typical grocery store chain like Walmart or Target. With local mercados, not only are you investing in local economies, you are embracing Hispanic culture and/or staying true to your ‘roots’ as opposed to going to a normal
Mercados all have different names depending on the things they sell. There are “mercados” which are known as farmer markets, and “flea markets” known as “pulgas” in Spanish. In Houston there are about 15 recorded mercados, all of which strive to benefit their communities. By shopping at these local mercados, you are given a chance to help and contribute to your community, support the merchants who work their hardest to give the community the best quality goods, and have a tasty meal from the ebay produce. The most important and best part of shopping locally in general though is that when you pay for your things, your money doesn’t go to a corporation that doesn’t give back to their community. Your money goes directly into the merchant’s pocket and supports them directly, allowing them to sustain themselves and their family and continue to give you, the consumer, what you enjoy.
One of the lesser known, yet most local mercados is a rather sizable market called Azteca Farmers Market that’s owned by Samantha Delgado and just recently opened in October of 2018. Since the Azteca Farmers Market doesn’t get acknowledged very often, the merchants we all spoke to voiced their gratitude towards T.E.J.A.S documenting and writing about them, knowing that it would allow them to gain more business. This market has some of the best produce I’ve ever seen compared to H-E-B, and the reason behind this is because the market gets fresh produce delivered to them everyday. The types of produce you’re bound to see in more than just one booth are watermelons, oranges, limes, bananas, mangos, onions, avocados, cucumbers, plantains, as well as raw beans. You can also come across some rarities like pumpkin flowers, which are hard to come by and are great to use when it comes to making quesadillas, and obleas, which are traditional thin wafer like candies that are made with wheat, water, flour, and corn oil.
One of the first people that will greet you is a merchant woman named Rosa Aguilar, who has been selling at the Aztec market for about three months. Rosa’s booth is filled with almost everything you could want when it comes to produce. Her best sellers are her fruits as well as the little group of plants she always on the right corner of her tent. She has plenty of fruits, most of which are the ones that were previously listed, as well as some sauces like Valentina and cookies for the kids.
Just a few feet away from her is a man named Merlin who sells more unique fruits and traditional Mexican fruits such as mamoncillos, rambutan, dragonfruit, kiwis, and dominicos. Many merchants in the Azteca Farmers Market sell uniquely useful items, most of which are not just used to liven up meals, but for natural remedies. Lorena, a merchant who has been at the market ever since its opening, sells cactus pieces that are used for salads, meat, licuados, and sugar substitutes, however, the cactus pieces can also be ingested with the intent of lowering blood pressure. Rubia, the last merchant we interviewed who has been at the market for about 8 months, sells raw Eucalyptus leaves that can be used for teas, mole verde rojo, prickly pears, and pinole which is used to make many different types of traditional Mexican drinks, but most commonly used for champurrado.
The Azteca Farmers market also houses a bar house area that is used as a pulga. Inside the pulga are merchants that sell perfumes, TV’s, speakers, toys, purses, guitars, scooters, clothes, and much more. However, there is also an open bar with seafood as well as a drink called Tejuino and comida guacamera, a traditional Mexican snack you are more than welcome to purchase and enjoy. The bar is open to all outsiders and shoppers and, just like the market itself, is open 7 days a week from 8 AM to 8 PM. The merchants of the Azteca Farmers Market welcome you with warm greetings and many items to indulge yourself in. Bring your reusable bags and enjoy yourself at 7710 Lyons Ave, Houston, TX 77020!