After 7 years of not returning to one the most vibrant, diverse, and delicious countries I have ever visited, I made it back to visit one of the OG little miracles, Paola! I landed in the City of Mexico, hungry and ready to conquer along my best friend and local. I had 8 days, just enough time to wander around the city, visit all the local markets, get lost in the street bazaars, try all the varieties of tacos, talk to street vendors, eat chapulines (aka crickets), and collect jumping magical beans.
In order to truly understand the Mexican gastronomy and food culture, you need to understand how sacred corn, or maize, and chiles are in Mexico, If you dont like them, or have some sort of allergy or intolerance, I'm so sorry, because they are everywhere. Be careful, ask around before trying, and do not add any sauce you see in sight, because you might be tempting the devil.
Now, while wandering the streets and markets of Mexico City, these were my favorite corn and spice treats:
🌮 The iconic Taco al Pastor, a freshly made corn tortilla topped with al pastor meat grated from the trompo in front of my eyes. Then garnished with fresh cilantro, onion and a squeeze of lime 🍋
🌮 Cochinita Pibil Taco, pork marinated with achiote and chiles and cooked for hours under ground, topped with pickled red onions and hot sauce
🦀 Tostadas de Jaiba, a fried and crispy corn tortilla topped with crab meat, diced tomato, lettuce and avocado. I added some of their chile serrano aïoli for that creaminess.
💥 Enfrijoladas, a traditional dish originate from state of Oaxaca and consists of corn tortillas wrapped with many varieties, mine had Oaxacan cheese and chicken.The word enfrijolada could be translated to beaned-up in english😮 because it is basically what you do with the tortillas, you drench them in a black bean hearty sauce
🍲 The Birria Taco with its consomé (aka birria stock), a marinated and cooked for hours beef meat, until so soft it shreds with a spoon. The spices are so rich with hints of 3 types of chiles, cinnamon, cumin, and cloves. The point is to dip your taco in the consomé to get the extra juiciness.
🧺 Tacos de Canasta with Chicharron, aka “basket tacos”, are sold in street stands or by people riding bikes with (you guessed it) big baskets filled with tacos. They are prepared every morning, and are kept in them to stay warm.
🦗 Quesadilla de Chapulines & Flor de Calabaza, a cricket and zucchini blossom in a large corn tortilla stuffed with Oaxacan cheese and grilled onions. If you think Chapulines are out of your league, dont be shocked to see scorpions, spiders, ants, worms, and even beetles in the food markets of Mexico.
✨ Mezcalito de Tamarindo, mezcal coctails on the rocks, with tamarind juice and a spicy rime
🧛🏼♀️Vampire Pastor Taco, a golden corn tortilla with cheese and shredded fish al pastor
🧀 Gobernador Taco, a corn tortilla with shrimp wrapped in a cheese crisp, topped with avocado and their chipotle sauce
💥 Elotes, esquites, dorilocos, and tostilocos, or Doriesquites, are street-food snacks that consist of grilled corn on the cob or grained in a cup prepared with mayo, lime, cotija cheese (Mexican version of Feta), and chili powder 🌶 They are definetly not a snack, they are quite the bomb.
🌶️ If you are in Mexico during Pomegranate season, head to La Capital, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in the heart of the La Condesa, and get yourself their Chile en Nogada. This green chile Poblano is stuffed with beef, fruit and spices. Drenched in a pine-nut sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds. It is a dish meant to represent the Mexican flag, hence the green, white and red.
Paola, yeah the one with me in the pink ball pool, and the best Mexican local guide, has a background in Psychologist and is passionate about socio-emotional education following the the Reggio Emilia approach. This teaching approach observes what children already know, what they are curious about and what challenges them, in order to develop appropriate ways to help them expand their academic and social potentials. I believe there is no coincidence to why Paola has always been drawn towards this type of education, and me towards this food culture.
Next meet up is in the Emilia Romagna region, I manifest it.