Eat This and That! I ♥ Mexico
Since I’ve been in Mexico, I’ve been eating everything in sight. I told you about my taco obsession here. This is a list of the other delicious things I’ve been filling my face with…
These are a staple many of us know and love. They are made of corn tortilla and filled with everything from meat, cheese, beans, and a verity of vegetables, then drowned in chili sauce. My favorite variation quickly became the Morelian Enchiladas (from the town of Morelia.) These are prepared slightly differently. The tortilla is first soaked in a flavorful chili sauce before it’s fried, not the other way around. They are then topped instead of filled with a combination of potato, carrot and chicken and cheese.
Tostadas are great when you want a taco but you also want something crunchy. Crispy, flat, round fried tortillas are usually slathered with a layer of refried beans, topped with your choice of meat like chicken or pork or even seafood. A little lettuce, tomato, onion, and almost always a couple of slices of avocado are added to finish it off. Just pour on salsa, per usual, and boom, you’ve got yourself a little disk of delicious.
Seafood thrives on the coast. Yes, grilled and deep fried whole fish are amazing but I live for ceviche. It’s a cold dish of raw seafood that essentially cooks by becoming cured in citrus juice. In my opinion, it is best enjoyed as a mixto, meaning made with all the blessing of the ocean, including shrimp, octopus, and the catch of the day (usually a mild white fish) mixed with a bit of diced tomato, onion and garlic, packed under fresh squeezed lime juice, a little salt, and served with crispy tortillas on the side. It’s a refreshing, filling, and a nutrition-packed dish that still feels light enough under the scorching Mexican sun to not wait 30 minutes before returning to the ocean for a swim.
These are basically tortas (sandwiches) on steroids. They come from the region of Puebla and it’s really the only place to get a proper one. The bread, as well as a distinct, regional herb called pápalo, are the key ingredients in what sets this sandwich apart from other average tortas. The bun is made with egg and similar in taste to brioche. At their best, the buns are lightly toasted, pillowy soft on the inside, giant sesame seed rolls. The inside is layered with a smattering of shredded white cheese, avocado slices, onion, and meat then topped with pápalo which has a pungent aroma and tastes somewhere between cilantro and arugula giving this torta a unique, full flavor. Oh my god, they are so good!
are another common staple and too good not to mention. A tamale is a traditional dish made of masa (dough) which is made from corn and steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf depending on the region. I have surprisingly found finding a good one to be a bit of a challenge. Too often the masa is dry and falls apart or the filling is far lacking in abundance. But one must persevere in the name of great food! When you do find one that’s just right you return daily, maybe even twice a day until you’re absolutely sick of them. The best ones are when you peel back the corn husk that encases the tamales and wafts of steam float off, that’s the perfect temperature. The outside should be moist but firm, textured but still bound well enough to not crumble. The inside can be filled with anything. Some of my favorites from the most popular types include shredded chicken with salsa verde, rajas and most of all dark mole, which is specific to Oaxaca. You can put anything in them from sweet to savory.
Speaking of mole, this is what food dreams are made of. I can never get enough of the stuff. Mole is a sauce and from the region of Oaxaca. There are seven different traditional kinds: Negro, Rojo, Verde, Amarillo, Coloradito, Chichilo, and Manchamantel. It’s important to try them all as many times as possible. Recipes are sacred and many are passed down generations through families. The list of ingredients for each mole is long. Some of these sauces take a day to make and some, like the mole negro, can take a laborious three full days to make correctly. It’s most often served with a drumstick of chicken or other simple items, but the mole is the highlight of the dish. Mole is taken pretty seriously in Oaxaca. And I’m pretty serious about how much I love to eat it.
Another Oaxacan staple and an overall crowd pleaser. The outside is a thin, crunchy tortilla that has been baked and about the size of your head. What goes inside is sort of a free for all. The inside is usually filled with any combination of ingredients starting with a layer of refried beans, sometimes lard, lettuce, cabbage, avocado, a boat load of Oaxacan cheese (similar to mozzarella and string cheese but saltier,) and meat of your choosing if you so choose. Slap a ton of spicy pickled vegetables like carrot and peppers and a bit of red and green salsa. Give in to the food coma, just let it happen.