Just south of the Municipal Palace on the square, the Motul Market provides fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, herbs and spices, flowers, and more. You’ll find the stall vendors very friendly and helpful. However, if you do know some Spanish, they’ll often pretend to only speak Maya – a popular form of Motuleño humor!
Most of the items are sold by the kilo – for 1 pound, ask for “medio kilo”; for half a pound, “cuarto kilo.” Be sure to bring shopping bags and plenty of small change – and, while at the market, you can buy the typical colorful shopping bags used by everyone locally – either of nylon or of henequen.
Besides the produce you’re accustomed to at home, you’ll find unique, regional fruits and vegetables:
Sour oranges -naranjas agrias – used as a meat marinade in Yucatecan and Caribbean cuisines.
Achiote paste – the defining spice of Yucatecan food – found in Cochinita Pibil and Tikin Xik.
Pepitas – pumpkin seeds – in powder or paste form – used in papadzules and Ha’Si-Kil Pac, a dip for chips and crudités. See our recipe below.
Chaya – Maya spinach – high in vitamins, minerals, and protein; it must be cooked.
Cebollinas – like a cross between spring onions and chives.
Banana leaves – used as wraps for tamales and other dishes, they are wiped clean before using. They impart a fresh, herbal taste to the food.
While in the market, be sure to pick up a bouquet of flowers for your table, and freshly squeezed juices – watermelon, orange, grapefruit, pineapple, jamaica, and many more varieties are available.
Back out in the square you’ll find two small liquor stores. Liquor stores are generally only open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 to 6, and on Sundays from 11 to 3. There’s also a panadería – bakery – pick up a tray and tongs at the counter and choose your breads and pastries. Back at the counter they’ll bag and price them for you.
Try the bollitos de queso – sweet rolls filled with cream cheese – that are great with coffee. Just around the corner, to the west of HSBC bank, is a pastelería – a cake store. Cakes can be purchased immediately or ordered for special occasions. They also sell baking ingredients such as yeast, baking powder, etc. Two banks with ATMs are on the square – only Motul and Progreso have ATMs, so be sure to have sufficient cash on hand.
To get to Motul, turn south from Telchac Puerto at the bus station. Head 22 km south, through Telchac Pueblo, to Motul. Turn right at Glamour boutique, a yellow building on the left-hand side of the road, as it becomes a one-way street at that point. Turn left at next corner. Turn left at the corner of Calle 22 and 29, there’s a fruit and vegetable store and a vet supply store at the corner. The road curves into the square which has parking. To head out of town, continue counter-clockwise around the square and head back north to the coast. From Mérida, go east from the Periférico where the signs direct you to Motul. There is a new PEMEX gas station just north of Telchac Pueblo. The owner plans to open a 24-hour pharmacy.
Ha’Si-Kil Pac: 4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped, 1 small chile, seeded and ribs removed, ¼ kilo pumpkin seed paste, 1 bunch cebollinas, chopped, juice of 1 sour orange, small bunch of cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt. Mix all ingredients and use as a dip for chips or crudités.
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