Our two-week trip to Mérida ended about a month ago and my pants are still fitting a little snug these days. Either the Yucatecan atmosphere has a way of shrinking cotton, or I overdid it with the panuchos and salbutes. But they’re sooooooo goooood.
And I intend to become an expert panuchologist/salbuterian. This requires research, especially in our future neighborhood. We finally had lunch at Mercado de Santa Ana. With the loudspeaker blaring, and all the aggressive waiters flagging you down while loudly reciting their specialties, it’s a little overwhelming to a newcomer. I’m still not sure how the “system” there works, but on the guidance of both a Remixto video and my friend Susan’s dining guide, I insisted on favoring Mary’s stand. There are numerous similar-looking stands surrounding an outdoor dining area lining the park. But there is, indeed, a system that we need to work out in our feeble little minds.
Paul and I approach, and a fast-talking guy with menus tries to guide us in. We’re not sure what he’s saying, so we ignore him and walk toward Mary’s. We’re nearly there when a very tall, big-boned young woman gets right in my face, pitching her menu. We deflect her and walk past her to Mary’s. We finally talk to a guy who seems to represent Mary’s, and he guides us to a table where the red resin Coca-Cola chairs have Mary’s name taped on the back. I guess this is Mary’s zone. We glaze over at Mary’s tattered menu. So we just tell the man what we want.
We order tacos and an agua de papaya, and then spy the waiter heading to Taqueria y Locheria Moncho for the food, and yet another stand, Frutilunch, for the juice. So maybe he’s really a runner, representing some, or maybe all, of the stands there, taking some percentage of sales? Examining Mary’s signs, I see she doesn’t actually offer tacos. Quickly enough, he returns with the tacos and fruit juice. They’re delicious, so no complaints.
But we’re still hungry, and I want to sample some of Mary’s food, so we order a couple of panuchos, and establish with the waiter/runner that they’re going to be from Mary’s. They are, and they arrive fairly rapidly. They were a little oily, but also totally fresh and filled with flavor. We felt we got a good deal at our first real sit-down stay at Santa Ana market.
Relaxing in our seats, we enjoy the the park as my mind winds down a little. We notice that the big-boned waitress is really a transgender female, and as she easily socializes with her colleagues, some of them much older, I think to myself how progressive and smart the culture here can be at times. Now I feel badly for bypassing her. Business in the market is a little slow today, for some reason, and I also notice how much fresh food is on display. Most of it won’t be sold, and I think what a shame that is. I also notice how rudimentary these food stalls are, and yet highly functional and seemingly immaculate and well-kept.
We’re still a little unclear about how the market works (why are we in Mary’s assigned chairs, but eating food from someone else?), but happy that we were able to extract an enjoyable lunch from Mary’s and her neighbors.