Quiroga is a busy market town in Michoacan province, in Mexico's colonial heartland. The town takes its name from one Vasco de Quiroga, a Spanish born Catholic priest who came to Mexico in about 1530 and unlike many of his countrymen treated the local population well and did much to improve their conditions with schools, hospitals and other facilities. Whilst visiting Mexico in December I spent three days in the province, based in Morelia but visiting some of the surrounding towns too.
I visited Quiroga on a bright December morning and found streets of market stalls selling agricultural and handicraft products from all over Michoacan. Many of the stalls sell lacquerware items and wooden bowls and trays brightly painted with floral motifs whilst others sell pots and pans for domestic use. There are also many, many, stalls selling food. The brightest coloured fruit and vegetables I have ever seen were displayed in carefully constructed piles designed to attract Quiroga's shoppers and to dazzle the occasional tourist. Other stalls sell meat, fish and cooked food ready to eat. As it was almost Christmas when I visited many of the stalls were also selling seasonal decorations made from paper, wood or cloth also of many different colours and helping to entice shoppers in this extremely competitive market.
Of course I wanted to sample the food and I enjoyed a couple of quesadillas (!) filled with cheese and beans washed down by a mug of coffee. The quesadillas were cooked on a metal stand like the one pictured above and were served with a selection of chillis and chilli sauce options graded, hot, very hot and even hotter! The quesadillas were great, the coffee a bit disappointing. I was asked if I wanted water or milk in my coffee which should have been a clue. I only drink black coffee so plumped for water. And that's what I got…a mug of hot water and a jar of nescafe! Well you can't win them all. Incidentally, I have eaten many quesadillas since my return to London, all of hem much more expensive than the ones in Mexico, none of them as good as the Mexican variety and many of them swimming in oil. Come on London, sort it out.
I like the picture featured at the head of the post for several reasons. Its a great reminder of a morning spent wandering Quiroga's market and street stalls, enjoying the colours and the December sunshine. But more than that it illustrates perfectly my feelings about Mexico and many of its people who work extraordinarily hard to make a living often in the most difficult conditions. Thousands of women work in markets, making and selling food from stalls or in many cases getting up before dawn to cook delicious treats before hawking them to passers by in order to earn a living.
Quiroga is not far from Patzcuaro, a larger town and also a great place to visit on a day's excursion from Morelia, but that is for another post!
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