On to round 2 of tasty Mexican eats in, well, Mexico!
5) Peculiar foods I’ve never heard of before my trip
One would be the jicama. The outside reminded me of a huge potato, but it tasted more like a turnip. The best part is that you don’t have to bake it, but you cut it up, slice it in quarters, strew some salt, pepper and chili (of course, what else?) over it and drench it in lime juice. Et voila, perfect afternoon snack (not to forget, healthy, too).
When in Guanajuato, I tried nopales y papas (nopales with potatoes) for breakfast. Nopales are the leaves of a pear cactus. They look green and taste like a fresh and crunchy veggie. I really liked them a lot but couldn’t find them after coming back to Guadalajara.
Of course guacamole was one of the standards eats. A great tip my friend gave me was to simply leave the avocado seeds (or bones, as Mexicans call it) in the guacamole. This way it lasts several days, not only a few hours (this past summer I made guacamole that I literally had to throw away less than 24 hours later. After using the seed trick, it lasted 3 days!).
6) The biggest Taco Feast I went on…
… was at La Tomate Taqueria in Guadalajara. Taco meat was cut straight from slabs (reminded me of the Kebab places in Germany), then served with several tortillas, different kind of salsas, onions, and herbs. The best ingredient: Pineapple pieces (this makes or breaks a taco, so pineapple will be a common ingredient from now on).
As you can tell, beans are not included in any Mexican meal, unless served on the side (another common misperception when it comes to Americans mixing Mexican cuisine up). And, does this look like a hella taco or not?
7) The best raw food I’ve tried…
… was Aguachile de Cameron.
Raw shrimp, which is covered in chile sauce, making it halfway cooked (because of its hotness). It’s served with lemon, onion, cream cheese, and cucumber. In this variation, we also had a strawberry, which made up for quite an exotic flavor altogether.
8) Regional variations
After being to Guanajuato and San Miguel, I have to admit that the food by far exceeded my expectations in Guadalajara. The foods in the first two cities were actually not as tastily prepared than in the capital of Jalisco. After traveling for the first weekend, we encountered an old woman who even told us so and then everything started to make sense. However, I did have a pretty decent breakfast consisting of nopales (an exotic ingredient I hadn’t tried before) in Guanajuato, so kudos go out to the mom’n’pop shop who served us.
While the never-ending discussion with my friends at home had come to the conclusion that refried beans are strictly American and black beans are strictly Mexican, I was baffled when I had my first breakfast in Mexico. Chilaquiles served with refried beans on the side (and nowhere did I encounter black beans on my voyage). My friend pointed out that black beans are more seen in the South, whereas other areas serve pinto and refried beans (and laughed at my initial thought of these being American).
To my amusement, we went out to grab some Elote every once so often, but not the corn on the cob variation known to me before. The corn was carefully scraped from the cob, collected in a cup, mixed with cream (not mayo), and then topped with cheese and chili. I was then handed a spoon so that I could stuff my face with this variation of esquitas. My friend pointed out that eating the corn directly from the cob turns out to be far too messy, so that’s why the stores decided to serve it in a cup. Makes sense, eh?
Overall, after providing you with this list, Mexican food might seem like one of the unhealthiest food options out there (heck , alone those 20 tortillas a day should make your body look like a bloated ship). But honestly, I’ve found some great options because Mexico also provides the entire country (and the US) with fresh fruits and veggies. Having an avocado presented on a silver plate together with oranges, mangoes, and papayas (smell bad, taste good) is a pretty nice morning routine. I’m sure not everyone eats this way in Mexico, but my friends kinda did (or at least their parents let them). Groceries were cheap compared to the US (even after converting them it into local wages). Of course tortilla and alcohol were even cheaper, but let’s put that aside.