Mexico City Part 5: What’s a Little Turista Among Friends?
We love food. All kinds. Thus, we didn’t hold back when in Mexico City despite the typical warnings. We did exercise caution of course with our water intake which, if you know Joel’s propensity for hearty hydration, was a wise move.
Thankfully our host, Hershey, had ozone water filtration units in each of her apartments so we were able to drink with abandon. Plus, she used it for all the water that cleaned her fruit and veggies that she served us. You simply stick the end of the tube in a pitcher of water for about three minutes and voila! Pretty slick.
Speaking of Hershey…she spent a fair amount of time in her tiny, but efficient kitchen for us. Here she is doing her daily ritual of cutting our fresh fruit for breakfast.
After which we’d walk to find the bread guy, Armando, who pulls up along a side street in Coyoacan every morning to sell his pan dulce. I’m someone who watches her intake of gluten, but not on this trip when this is available. One of each, please. Seriously. One of each.
Here’s Armando inside his van followed by the line outside his van. We weren’t the only ones who appreciated fresh pan dulce.
Hershey and Joel wandering back home with our loot.
Which soon was added to our breakfast table along with fresh fruit, cheese and pressed coffee.
We also had a couple of cooking lessons – learning ceviche, an easy form of pepian, and a fresh tomatillo salad. I forgot to take photos of it all there, but have made them since returning home. That’s the jicama-mango ceviche in the foreground and the green tomatillo salad in the background. (Contact me for recipes.)
Below is Hershey with her housekeeper and friend, Mine (pronounced Mee-nay, short for Minerva) in the kitchen teaching me to make volcanes. And one of me toasting my corn tortilla for my volcane base. Volcanes are basically toasted corn tortillas with all sorts of different toppings. We made ones with cheese only, typical comfort food. (Think American grilled cheese sandwich.)
Speaking of cheese, below are photos I took of various products so I could hunt for them at George’s International Market when I returned home. It is THE place to shop for Mexican ingredients. These are two deliciously rich creams and some jarred adobo chilies.
We also learned of and ate AND enjoyed cuitlacoche (pronounced QUEET-la-coh-chay), a black fungus that grows inside the corn husks. (Stay with me here.) The thing is, this is a very normal thing when Monsanto doesn’t rule your corn industry and use pesticide-laden seeds. Here Hershey is sauteing it with some corn and chicken.
We also ate out and about a fair amount basically because for me the answer to the question “Are you hungry?” is always “Yes”. As my dad used to say, “I never miss a meal” and I, personally, prefer five squares a day. Not kidding.
One special lunch out (which in Mexico means roughly 3 p.m. We never quite adjusted to what meal was served when, so we finally gave up and just ate) was at Dona Lula, across the street from Hershey’s home.
We started with a mezcal cocktail. Strong but delish.
And then we ate a variety of other things that we allowed Hershey to order for us so I can’t recall their names, but yum. Appetizer then dessert pictured below.
Her dear friend, Roberto joined us for this meal. He was curious about our upcoming election and wondered if we could explain the electoral college system. So we did. Sort of. Have you ever done this out loud? It sounds ridiculous when articulated. Maybe a revamp is in order?
On another day, we met Hershey’s lovely friend, Patricia, for brunch.
By the way, Patricia’s son-in-law created colorful, unique paper wallets that he has now taken to a large production scale and sells. We purchased several Moon Wallets from her for souvenirs. Check them out. Tell ’em I sent you. No, don’t tell them that. He doesn’t know me at all.
We started our meal with a delicious, yes-I’ll-have-a-refill drink that I think was champurrado. Hershey and I are holding our cute little mugs of it in the photo below.
This was a typical brunch setup with loads of options that Hershey went through step by step with us. (She actually did that with every single menu we saw. She’s a gem.) I totally forgot to take pictures of the buffet, but here’s a photo of me eating a sweet tamale, something new for me.
And on the tables were chili powder shakers instead of the familiar salt and pepper.
One day we stopped at the counter of Sanborn’s (think Woolworths’ diner from years past) and enjoyed a snack which was around 1 p.m. thus continuing the confusion on timing of meals. Below are Joel’s enchiladas followed by us all just relaxing.
We strolled through several markets like Hershey’s little ducklings, tasting what she suggested and listening to her banter and buy from the vendors. At one we bought a ball of Oaxaca cheese and promptly ate it before remembering to take a photo of it because it was so amazing. Think mozarella at its most fresh, or, if you’re from Wisconsin like I am, think squeaky, still warm cheese curds. Below is some Oaxaca cheese purchased at George’s after we returned home. It melts beautifully too!
We purchased some mole sauce base to bring home. Mole is one of those recipes that looks simple but actually has tons of ingredients and time in its making. We were thrilled to find that an expert could make it and then dehydrate it to an easily-packable powder for reconstitution later with chicken broth. Boom! Here is the lovely display of mole options (the brown, green and orange bags with the scoop.)
And here’s the few that we bought (along with some pink pine nuts – another Mexican treat.)
And oh yes, a chorizo picture for Drew since he LOVES chorizo. We sent these throughout the week every time we saw or ate it. He may be planning a trip to Mexico City as we speak to check out their array of sausage. (Get ready, Hershey!!)
Speaking of chorizo, we enjoyed some at an outdoor stand in Xochimilco (the Floating Gardens locale shared at the bottom of this post.) It may or may not have been the cause of a touch of turista that both Joel and I endured, he on our last day there and me once I returned home. Hey, did you know that turista is also referred to as Montezuma’s revenge, but in actuality is Moctezuma’s – with a C rather than an N? The things you learn…
Anyway, here we are enjoying our snack/lunch.
Let’s not forget the street food. Our trips to South Korea and Thailand taught us to consider street food as part of a culture that can’t be overlooked. And so we enjoyed sweet potatoes and plantains roasted in an oven street side…
…esquite chico which is fresh corn boiled and made super tasty when served in a cup with lime juice, mayonnaise and chili powder (corn is also often served roasted on a stick – you can see the cup of sticks on the shelf by the wall in the photo below)…
…and food trucks! They are just beginning to have a presence in the city as evidenced by this small lot of them across the street from Hershey’s home. We didn’t eat there, but took pictures for Drew, the future food truck owner.
Last but not least on the street food list were churros. If we mastered one Spanish word while there, it was churros (chew-rrrrrrrrr-ohs.) Roll those r’s, baby! Here is a photo of them being fried in a ring. Then they’re cut into about eight inch lengths, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and served warm. Fried bread covered in sugar still warm!! If you ever say no to this, I’ll assume you’re no longer alive.
On to drinks. We already covered the mezcal cocktail, but what about the margarita, you ask? The San Angel Inn is supposed to have served the very first ever margarita. OK, I’ll believe it and give it a whirl. Joel ordered the traditional one and Hershey and I tried the tamarind flavor.
San Angel Inn is a fancy place so we sat on the edge of the dining room in our shopping/walking clothes and tried to pretend we were fancy enough to be there. No problem. Our seat by the live piano player was perfect for us.
On St. Patrick’s Day we had beer in honor of the San Patricios who defected from the American army and fought with the Mexicans during the Mexican-American War. Then when out wandering the quiet streets of Coyoacan, we found some Irish magic at a local pub who eagerly posed for a photo.
Last, a video of a street food bike cart – one of many that we saw throughout the city – that plays a recorded list of fare in the same sing song manner over and over wherever it goes. Hershey said that this is available as a ring tone on smartphones. We were finally able to capture it when one got stuck at a traffic light. Another idea to share with future food cart owner, Drew. Catchy!