Market Watch: Seafood

By Chris Warren

So, you like to cook?  Or perhaps you just wanna shake things up a bit in the kitchen and take a walk on the culinary wild-side.  Well you’ve come to the right place.  I’m going to let you in on a little (not-so) secret spot that may well change your life forever…the seafood section of La Democracia.  Despite its obvious fragrance and location right smack dab in the middle of La Democracia, many folks have no idea that cheap, fresh and tasty mariscos are available alongside the standard Demo produce, chicken, churrasco, flowers, handgun-shaped pastelitos…etc that we all know and love.

       First let’s get situated.  The market is actually incredibly easy to find because it happens to be located in the bowels of perhaps Xela’s only 6 story building and La Democracia’s tallest landmark, the teal “Edificio Las Azucenas S.A.”.  All you have to do is enter through one of the narrow entrances on 16 avenida or 1a. calle that are a half block down on either side of the building.  Then, just follow your nose, (or look confused and say “mariscos“…someone will surely come to your aid). Though take note that the seafood market closes earlier than the rest of the market, sometimes as early as 4pm.  

       Once you’re there, my recommendation would be to look for the freshest seafood you can find, which in my experience has been at Pescaderia Champerico, the largest vendor of the bunch, hidden away in the corner.  If you happen to not be Guatemalan, you may just as easily find it by following the English salutations directed your way by owner and professional fishmonger Marcos Antonio, who takes great pleasure in practicing his English with his patrons.  Lucky for you, he typically has the largest selection of tasty aquatic treats as well.  Everything from shrimp (camarones), sea bass (mojarra), and shark (tiburon) to crabs (jaibas), clams (conchas) and calamari (calamares).  They also offer the Guatemalan equivalent of salmon (pargo) as well as octopus (pulpo) if you’re feeling daring.  You’ll be happy to know that none of the aforementioned seafood will break the bank, since the bass goes for about Q13/lb, the shark and pargo around Q20/lb and the shrimp for Q25/lb and up (depending on what size you get and if you want them to peel them or not).  

       According to Don Marcos, the aforementioned owner of Pescaderia Champerico, they get daily shipments of mariscos from Champerico, the closest Pacific port to Xela, and your average seafood item in his shop was harvested from the sea 2 days prior and kept on ice from that point on.  Not too shabby!  Anyway, knowing that your sensitive stomachs are in good hands, go ahead and dive in at Pescaderia Champerico, you won’t regret it!

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