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Sweet mother of Mexican food, the cuisine here is stupendous. Yes, I loved “Mexican food” before moving here. Who doesn’t? But of course it may be of no surprise to you that what we eat in the USA scarcely resembles food made and served in Mexico. Yes, I love cheese, yes, I love sour cream. You rarely find those ingredients in main dishes here. They let the flavor of the marinades, salsas and spices do all the work. Sorry vegetarians, you won’t feel at home here. Well, here in DF you can find anything and everything, but step outside the city limits where the tumbleweeds roll and donkeys are a form of transportation, and it’s carne all the way, baby. I’ve had to get used to it. Not being a real carnivore before coming, aside from weekly chicken and the occasional red meat, it was a big adjustment having so much beef and pork. And Mexicans LOVE to eat meat! Well, when in Rome, so I started getting used to the meat eating, and now I’m hooked. Cause it’s just so good! Added bonus: we live in the restaurant district. Unlimited delicious food at our disposal. Metabolism, don’t fail me now! Cholesterol, I just don’t want to know until I have health insurance again. It will be a short-lived insanity, might as well live it up while we’re here. (Thankfully I have a dog to walk twice a day so it keeps me from needing to be shipped out of Mexico on a crane in a few months)

So, what is the food like here? There is a ton of variety, but some standards. Limes with every meal. At least 2 kinds of salsa. Lots of color. Meat. MEAT. Chiles, spicy. Sometimes huge plates, sometimes lots of small plates.

The BEST: tacos. Tacos here are served as different cuts of (usually) marinated meat with small corn tortillas (soft, you will not find the El Paso hard-shelled tortillas down here). You dress them up how you want them with onions, pineapple, cilantro, and unlimited salsa. No cheese. No cream. Very seldom guacamole. So incredibly delicious! My absolute favorite, desert island food, is tacos al pastor, which is marinated pork which slow roasts on a spit over a fire all day and is sliced thin by the taco. Served always with sliced pineapple (which roasts on same spit above the large meat roast) cilantro, and optional onions and salsa. YUM!

Limes and salsa part of almost every meal...

Limes and salsa part of almost every meal...

Here’s a picture I took of a feast Alex and I had in Monterrey: these were tacos al carbon:

taco feast

taco feast

I have found that they eat even more meat up North,  in Monterrey and Cadereyta, where my family is from, than down here in Mexico City. When my mother in law comes to visit, I have to stock my fridge with cuts of meat I’ve never bought before because I want her to feel at home here.  They are serious about their carne asada up there. Alex thankfully has expanded his palate a bit living abroad and married to a nurse who regulates his diet, but when it comes down to it, there’s nothing like a big chunk of red meat for this man.

Pretty much the mecca of meat for most Monterrey Mexicans is cabrito,

Cabrito

Cabrito

roasted baby goat. This is one of the only dishes I refuse to eat. I no longer eat goat for any reason, dating back to a goat roast in Tanzania that made me swear off even the smell of this animal for a lifetime.  My Mexican family loves it though…even though I’ve never been to eat cabrito in Monterrey, Alex was having a craving and Sandra was feeling adventurous, so we went to a cabrito restaurant here in DF a few days ago. Alex ordered riñonada..the kidney section. Mmmmm….”delicious”.

Another favorite of mine is breakfast. Saturday and Sunday mornings are a big treat for us to go out sometimes and have a huge leisurely meal in the morning. Some recent favorites:

Chilaquiles: corn chips, eggs, chicken, salsa- scrambled together served with beans. YUM.

chilaquiles with red and green salsa

chilaquiles with red and green salsa

chilaquiles in Monterrey (morning after a lonnnnng wedding)

chilaquiles in Monterrey (morning after a lonnnnng wedding)

Alex’s favorite breakfast: Machaca con huevos: dried shredded beef (very Northern Mexico)

machaca con huevos

machaca con huevos

When Rona was visiting, we tried some breakfasts with very traditional/seasonal ingredients: here’s two omelettes we had one morning…mine was flor de calabaza (squash flowers) and Rona was brave and tried huitlacoche (corn fungus). Both very good! For any of you Mexico City readers, the two best casual breakfasts in Condesa I think are El Ocho and Maque, where we got the chilaquiles and omelettes, respectively.

Flor de calabaza

Flor de calabaza

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche

Another fun seasonal treat Sandra and I both tried when she was visiting was Chiles en Nogada. We couldn’t figure out all the ingredients, but they were basically large peppers stuffed with ground beef, pinenuts, spices, fruit(?) etc, and then topped with a walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds. Not something I’d eat everyday, but fun to try and very pretty!

Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada

Tequila is quite plentiful here but done differently…rather that the animal house tequila shot method we Americans are so fond of…especially the later the night and the worse the idea…tequila here is drunk slowly in sips with meals, or combined with grapefruit soda, mineral water, sangrita, etc. Here’s a fun traditional tequila drink called La Banderita, (the mexican flag) and it’s three shots drunk sequentially- first lemon juice, then tequila, then sangrita, in little sips. A big hit with the visitors…

la banderita

la banderita

from a different angle

from a different angle

Well, that’s a brief overview for you of some of the culinary delights I’ve enjoyed over the past several months. I don’t have pictures of most of our adventures, and left out some real classics such as mole, tamales oaxaqueños, molletes, albondigas, the list goes on…I’ll try to provide you with some more pictures and descriptions as time goes on. Come visit, we’ll take you out to eat. And eat. And eat. Also, if you live in the US, try to go to as many places as possible where they serve Mexican food but don’t speak English. Usually little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that may be attached to Mexican grocery stores, or tiny taquerias with a Mexican flag in the window may be pretty good bets. Stay away from places that have “chimichangas” on the menu (any Mexican will ask you what the heck a chimichanga is), burrito joints or any place that has a talking chihuahua as a mascot if you want to eat closer to authentic Mexican. You won’t be disappointed.

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