Heredia's Market: Fresh Fruit, Veggies and Pig Feet

      Last week I was walking home when I saw a group of Ticos right off the road. My interest piqued and I decided to see what all of the commotion was about. To my surprise, what I thought was a small space opened into a long hallway, and then turned into a maze of entrances and exits expanding a couple city blocks to make up what the locals call the Mercado Central, or Central Market.

Costa Rica Language School Mamon ChinoHesitantly, I entered the market with eyes the size of saucers. The main hallway was lined with every fruit and vegetable you could imagine, including those that I had never even seen before!  Each vendor kindly greeted me and offered their assistance. I began asking questions about the new fruits and vegetables that I saw. There was this spikey, round and red thing that I found out to be called a mamón chino, known as a lychee in Asia. It is a fruit that you break open and suck on the fibrous seed until you get down to the pit. I daringly tried on and although the slimy seed intimidated me, I thought it tasted pretty good--sour with a subtle sweet flavor. 

I saw starfruit, or carambola, a large green and spikey fruit called guanábana, a gourd that resembled an old toothless man, or chayote, papaya, pineapple, yuca--Costa Ricans use many of these fruits to make natural fruit juices. I later ventured into the depths of the market and discovered people selling meats at carnicerías or butcher shops.  I didn’t recognize some of the meat, but they did have your usual ground beef, chicken, pork, fish. They also had your not-so-usual: pig’s feet, entire pig legs, cow tongues, and a whole bunch of other mystery meats. 
There were also stores selling arts and crafts and restaurants with typical Costa Rican dishes or casados. I could have spent hours in Heredia’s Central Market! There were so many different things to see and interesting things to try. This weekend I have plans to go back and practice my Spanish; maybe then I’ll be brave enough to try the mystery meat. Maybe not.