Mrmph! Flautas, micheladas, enchiladas, guacomoles, tortas…!
I know my Mexican Adventure has been a while ago, but I couldn’t resist not letting you in on all of the delicious food I tried while down there. Mexican food is spicy, repetitive, and experimental at best. Those three points pretty much summarize my entire foodie experience, but of course there is so much more to it.
You see, Mexicans cannot be without their two main ingredients: Tortilla and Chile. I don’t know what people with a gluten allergy do if they are ever trapped in that country but I can tell you that it is a challenge to have any sort of allergy in Mexico. It is also very rare to encounter vegetarians, as my friends pointed out from day one (I am one of those rare people who didn’t know better). Most food truly consisted of chicken, pork or other kinds of meat and constantly requesting to have a substitute mixed in or rather getting a veggie version raised a few eye brows at first and then simply became annoying. You would assume that with all the vegetables going on in that country, vegetarians shouldn’t have no problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, most restaurants consider these vegetables more of a side order than a main meal.
Now, where to start in describing my typical food experience? Perhaps with the most obvious…
The main substance of Mexican food, as you all know by now. Tortillas come in all sizes and forms. They can be made of flour or corn (maiz), they can be fried or simply baked. They can be served grande when wrapped around a burrito or tiny, tiny small when processed into chips. I thought after seeing a few variations in Tex-Mex places in the US, I’ve seen them all, but that is not true. After a few days in the country, I’ve basically seen them in every way possible: Tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, flautas, chilaquiles… A quesadilla is a common breakfast, by the way. Just cheese, tortilla, and a delicious sauce.
Chilaquiles are more like a morning nacho, but much better. Fried tortilla chips with either mole sauce or different types of salsa, served warm. And flautas are mini-enchiladas, crisply fried and rolled up to preserve all the ingredients inside.
Well, beer is good. Or even better: Micheladas! It took me a week to discover these. My friend also pointed out that they come with lemon NOT lime (as American places serve them), because lime is considered too bitter for this type of drink. Oh, and the real joy comes when adding clamato (a clam-like sauce) to the Michelada. This makes for one of the most exotic-tasting beers I’ve had so far (of course it’s spicier and saltier, too).
Aside from these two beverages, hard liqueur is big. Tequila, of course, what else could it be? Not always as a shot though (unlike college kids do throughout the world). Moreover mixed with a sweet soda or taken in slowly (like a good vodka).
Margaritas are actually not Mexican, at least my friend does not believe so. According to her, they originated in America but have been warmly welcomed in Mexico and kept as a standard on most menus (they are also easily prepared since Tequila is found in every restaurant). Researching the history of Margaritas has proven to be rather difficult, so let’s leave it at that.
Mexicans LOVE their chili. They put it on EVERYTHING. Even their ice cream (nothing like shaved ice with a few drops of chili sauce on top). Indeed, my stomach had a really hard time adjusting to the constant spiciness of practically every single food out there. Not that I mind chili, but my body did (it was all burnt out after this vacation). After a week into my trip I was experiencing severe cramps and other unpleasant side effects. Unfortunately, my stomach never really stabilized until after I came back. So the next time I go, I really have to take it easy when ordering food in Mexico. However, it is barely avoidable, just to be fair. Mexicans certainly put a fair amount of spices in their food, but there are always more added spices on the table to pepper up your plate. When I tried my first salsa in Mexico, I dropped my chip as my tongue was burning. Nothing I’ve tasted so far compares to Mexican spices, absolutely nothing.
Here is one of my most favorite (and also cheapest!) foods I had in Guadalajara. Although tortas exist in the US, they are about 3 times as much. I kid you not! An average torta in Mexico costs perhaps around 35 pesos ($2.50). The last time I checked, I saw them sold for $8 in the restaurant around the corner.
Well, bitterness aside, tortas are simply amazing. I’m sure they are not healthy, either, but who cares about that. Huge sammiches which soft cheese, ham, a few peppers and white (baguette) bread – yum. Perfect instant breakfast, and that’s when you should be buying these anyways. Because when I once tried to get a torta at 3 PM, the place didn’t sell them anymore (a certain quantity is made fresh in the morning and sold off until noon). To top it all off, Guadalajara offers Tortas Ahogadas (drowned or flooded sandwiches).
Now this is truly the best variation I’ve found of tortas so far. And as a seafood lover, our place served an excellent shrimp-filled breakfast option drowned in delicious tomato sauce. I cannot describe how well all of this tasted. I hope the picture says it all!
[to be continued in Part II, now off to get some overpriced tortas!]