As Dawg has indicated in the past, we spend our winters in Chiapas in San Critsóbal de Las Casas and our summers in Jalisco at Lake Chapala in the village of Ajijic which is a delegacion of the municipality of Chapala. We are quite fond of both places for various reasons and really love the semi-annual change of scene which is substantial. The differences between the places are profound but I won´t go into that here except to say that one of the main differences between the Chapala municipality and San Cristóbal is the splendid and huge indigenous market in the historic center of the old colonial city of San Cristóbal the likes of which simply do not exist anywhere on Lake Chapala´s north shore or, in all likelihood anywhere else around the lake or geographically within a reasonable distance. That is not to say that the shopping in the Chapala area cannot be great. The Super Lake grocery in San Antonio Tlayacapan, for instance, may be the best international grocery in all of Mexico and in most of North America in general but that indigenous market in San Cristóbal is a fabulous place to buy fresh produce locally grown in mountainside milpas near San Cristóbal whereas the local markets at "Lakeside" whether full time or weekly tiaguis are, more than anything else, simply outlets for the Guadalajara abastos. Those street and municipal markets are primarily selling fruits and vegetables grown on and distributed from large commercial farms with the abastos acting as middlemen and very little available in those markets could be even remotely construed to be grown by loocal farmers who bring the produce to market they have home grown themselves.
One of the things we most look forward to when we return to San Cristóbal is a return to that huge and fascinating indigenous market which is only a couple of bolcks from our home there. The city fathers had threatened to move the market out beyond the community´s periferico because they insisted it was a filthy, congested and rat infested disgrace but the very influential indigenous community who have been feeling their oats since the Zapatista rebellion threatened riots and massive civil disobedience so that fantasy went by the wayside thank God since we built our hoime there where we built it to be close to that community treasure.
Th indigenous people in Chiapas are largely vegetarians not because they are opposed to slaughtering animals but because so many of them live hand-to-mouth in primitive mountainside, windowless shacks and it is damned inconvenient to have to chase a chicken down, wring his/her neck, pluck the sumbitch and gut that sucker just for a Colonel Sanders moment at the dinner table. Just think about it - if a chicken is inconvenient to slaughter for dinner, just think about butchering a cow or a pig even if Uncle Ralph is coming to dinner. Because of this, these folks grow a variety of veggies on their small plots of land and, since we are talking about small fincas at between 6,000 and 11,000 feet, we are talking succulent high mountain greens and root veggies here and finer vegetables of that sort you will not find on an industrial farm in Puebla or Guanajuato. Not only that but, because this high altitude farming region is just minutes from tropical farming regions, we get the best tropical fruits and coiffee in all varieties as well.
So, anyway, yesterday we were at the indigenous market and came across some mysterious greens upon which we had never laid eyes in the past 60 plus years on this planet and bought what we, back in Alabama, would call "a mess" of them and took them home and cooked up "a mess" of the most delicious and succulent greens we have ever wrapped our mouths around and we were so thrilled at this incredible find we returned to the market today and inquired as to what these unbelievably delicious greens were called only to be informed that thay are locally known as "Hierbas Mora" which, of course, we had never heard of so we looked it up and found that Hierbas Mora are known as Deadly Nightshade in English and the fruits of the plant are toxic and can kill you if you eat six of them. Other internet sources advised limiting daily consumption of the greens to less than 30 grams so we were becoming concerned that this remarkably delicious vegetable could kill us dead and went to see our next door neighbor, a native of this town in her 60s and she told us that, yes, Hierba Mora was reputed to be poisonous but that she and her family ate it all the time in season in abundance and were still quite alive so there.