Mexico City is home to the politically charged murals of renowned Mexican painter Diego Rivera, also known as the husband of strong-browed artista Frida Kahlo. Depicting scenes from Mexico’s history, his vast paintings can be found in buildings in the city centre such as the Palacio Nacional on the Zocalo and la Secretaria de Educacion Publica.
Lesser known, however, are the murals painted by the students of Rivera, found in the Mercado Abelardo Rodriguez. These also provide a fascinating insight into the themes that shaped Mexican society. Works by the Greenwood sisters, Antonio Pujol and Isamu Noguchi, famously ejected from Mexico following Rivera’s discovery of his affair with Kahlo, adorn the ceilings and cool stone stairwells of this vast historic market.
Discovering these masterpieces while exploring the market’s edible treats is the perfect combination.
The markets are piled high with chillies, spices, vegetables, raw meat and fish, but there is also plenty that’s ready to eat.
Start with a guajalota tamale sandwich in Mercado A Rodriguez, progress to barbequed lamb washed down with a cup of tangy pineapple tepache in Mercado Jamaica, then finish up with cactus huaraches. Wander among the vibrant displays of flowers, pinatas, confectionery and spiritual paraphernalia and snack on salted sugar ices, tubers dipped in sherbet, giant corn kernels cooked three ways and, of course, the surprisingly more-ish Oaxacan speciality of chapulines – fried grasshoppers.
I visited the markets with Urban Adventures (www.urbanadventures.com).