Home NewsPeninsulaCampeche Locally-Run Street Food: The Backbone of Campeche’s Nightlife

Locally-Run Street Food: The Backbone of Campeche’s Nightlife

by Yucatan Times
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Every Night In This Historic City, Vendors Set Up Their Stalls And Relight Campeche

On Campeche’s malecon, locals leave the site of a distinctive sunset to the emerging street food stands that spread across the city. Generations of families set up their stalls and prepare for the waves of customers already on their way, as the streets, formerly muted by the intense midday heat, are awoken by crowds surrounding marquesita and elote stands.

The city of Campeche is known as La Tierra del Pregonero; carts selling food in the street would make themselves known with shouts and sounds, which gave Campeche this name that is still seen today. Vendors assemble on the streets, dotted along the pavements and street corners selling their wares as the night passes; their calls and chatter attracting passersby to the smell of cooking food.

Down a street in the lively historic center, a man pedaling a stall shouts, “Hay elotes! Hay elotes!” The vendor continues the old tradition of announcements, as he makes his bicycle-propelled stall known to those nearby.

After a short walk towards the Catedral de Nuestra Señora, a marquesita kiosk stands diagonally from the Parque IV Centenario, named La Negrita. Its lights and conversations between seller and customer draw pedestrians and motorists in its direction, growing the crowd in front of the stall. The sizzling of batter on a scorching pan follows a friendly exchange between a pedestrian and a vendor, two small tables seat diners and those waiting for their crepe with their toppings of choice.

Along the seafront, a row of carts stand like sentries outside of a gate. People sit on the pavement beside or stand nearby eating and catching up with friends and family. The lights of the stalls and their signs blend with the lamp posts and lights from passing traffic; guiding people to their food. Cars and motorbikes are stopped by the union of smells permeating the cool evening air.

Vendors see business coming until late into the night, keeping the city awake and its residents full with good food until morning. While the cars pass, diners enjoy the sound of light waves crashing on the low concrete wall; along with the crackle of oil heating on iron pans as they indulge in regional cuisine prepared by a friendly seller.

Campeche is a human scale place to live with net benefits, such as low crime and high quality of life. Being one of the safest cities in Mexico, Campeche has a low crime index of 37.99, compared to Cancún’s 56.09 and 62.7 in Guadalajara. This extends well compared to foreign cities such as Houston, Texas at 63.8 and Birmingham, United Kingdom at 62.6.

Street food doesn’t only keep traditional and local cuisine alive, but it retains the authenticity of a place too. Rapid urbanization and regulations often squash these markets and stands, but in Campeche, this vibrant city keeps this beautiful aspect of its past alongside its modernity.

Every night brings regulars and newcomers to their favorite stands for something to eat, and a chat with friends; sellers welcome all who have walked down the malecon to try their food. Bonds are built and communities grown through these brief interactions, like customers watching their food being made, or exchanging jokes.

To have the opportunity to walk and find an environment similar to a market selling freshly made food, is nothing short of special. With a city growing as rapidly as Campeche, the continued presence of street food carts maintains the city’s traditional scene and serves as a homage to its roots. These stands harbor a welcoming atmosphere that invites people to share food, company and form a community surrounding regional cuisine; all while embracing the future of Campeche.

Article and photos by Isla Barker

TYT Newsroom

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