Having a house with fully equipped kitchen during our two weeks in Sucre meant I was down at Mercado Central almost every day picking up bits and pieces.
This is the city’s main market, running from early in the morning through to late afternoon every day of the week. It’s a busy place, a little confusing at first, but has anything you would expect to see at a city food market.
There are three levels in Mercado Central. The ground level is a maze of bakery stalls, stationery, fresh flowers, excellent cheese, eggs, potatoes, places to grab a bite to eat and butchers selling everything from cuts of beef, pork, alpaca, chicken, sausages and even pre-crumbed milanesa.
Bolivian head cheese, anyone? These mainly contain bits of boiled pork, which is compressed and sold either whole, sliced or made into sandwiches.
The queso fresco (below) and small discs of goat cheese at the market are fantastic. Every couple of days we’d pick up the fab crusty bread rolls to toast up for breakfast, and whatever cheese we got from the market ended up sliced and put on there.
Also on the ground floor are the ever-popular jugo ladies. Take your pick from one of the many stands, choose whatever regular or exotic fruits you want blended, and for one or two dollars you can sit and enjoy your concoction.
There’s usually enough left in the blender for another half glass, so don’t go rushing off until they refill it for you!
Among the small eateries on the ground floor are a few ladies selling multi-coloured jelly cups. These aren’t just for the kids, either, as you see more adults spooning into the layered jellies. Have them plain or topped with a fluffy cream. You see them everywhere in Bolivia.
If cakes are more your thing, then buy one of these fluffy creations, take a seat in the park, and dig in. They don’t hold back on the bright colours in these parts!
For food on the run, you simply have to try one of the choripans from 7 Lunares. Wait in line with the locals, order your filling and tuck in. Tasty chorizo, some greenery, sautéed onion – all stuffed into a Turkish-style bread roll.
The second floor of the market houses fresh fruits and veg, spices, spice pastes, many avocado stands and the main dining area.
Be prepared to be accosted by ladies yelling and shoving menus into your hand; all wanting you to take a seat at their kitchen and eat their food. There are about 20 of them, plus more on the third floor.
Each sells different food, so take a look at what everyone else is eating, or the picture menus, sit down and wait a few minutes for your plate to arrive.
We had the “completo” at one of the unnamed kitchens, and for a few dollars enjoyed delicious sopa de mani – a beef, veg and pasta soup thickened with ground peanuts – and then pique macho. This is basically sautéed beef with potatoes and onion, but everyone makes them differently. This was a very basic version.
Top it off with llajua, an incredibly spicy sauce, and tuck in.
Mercado Central, Junín & Ravelo