I go to Mexico the way other people go to Italy, France, or San Francisco...frequently and for the food. One of the things that always keeps me coming back are the mercados (markets); fresh and colorful each one vibrates with it's own special brand of energy. I'm convinced you could find almost anything in one of them, all you have to do is ask. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in every market.
When Moctumza welcomed Cortes and his band of Conquistadores to Tenochtitlan, the Spaniards were floored at the markets they saw, not to mention by the vast diversity of products being offered for sale and barter. It exceeded anything they'd seen in their homeland. The Mexican market system has survived more or less intact from Pre-Colombian times to the present.
There are two basic categories of market, the fixed markets and the tianguis. Fixed markets are almost always in permanent structures owned and maintained by the local government and vendors are charged rent (usually nominal) for a stall. They often go by the name of mercado municipales or mercado público and are pretty easy to find. The tianguis is a portable market where the vendor sets up his or her stall in the morning and takes it down at night. They can be a spill over from the main mercado, or they can travel among the different neighborhoods of city.
But enough of that. What does the mercado in Valladolid actually look like. For starters, it's small and it's clean
This is the main market where you can find a variety of ripe fruits and vegetables, purchase still warm, freshly made tortillas and get some ideas for the day's comida.
Your nose can often lead you to the meat stalls in a market. They produce pungent odors, and, to the American used to prepackaged meats, shocking visuals. The meat in the market - especially those in smaller towns - may have been on the hoof or foot only hours previous.
Food is not the only thing that gives a Mexican market it's color, nor is it the only thing sold in a market. You can get your shoes repaired, find a pirated movie, buy jewelery, clothing, pots and pans, or even sewing notions and lace.
And if needlework is a hobby
Every shade of the rainbow, and then some, is available at prices that can tempt one to buy more than they could possibly use in a lifetime.
Inside the market is calm and orderly, outside, not so much. There the tianguis vendors set up everyday with a dizzying array of produce, not to mention occasional poultry.
For those who prefer to know who raised their bird and that it's really fresh
Radishes were not indigenous to the New World but were introduced shortly after the conquest. Everywhere we went in the Yucatan we saw great huge bunches of gorgeously red radishes
And squash that was an impossibly deep green
There were juicy, sweet mangoes, caimitos (a relative of the sapote), madarinas, and the sour oranges traditionally used in Yucateco cooking
The mercado in Valladolid is an easy 4 or 5 block walk from the zocalo. It's only a couple of blocks beyond the Cenote Zaci, a landscaped well (or cenote) with inky black water and a restaurant.