What better location to lose oneself completely in a foodie adventure than Mexico? Cultural influences from around the world collide to create a culinary and gastronomic celebration.
Mexico is a country of vibrancy and mouth-watering famous street snacks consisting of the famous tacos al pastor served up by local characters each with a story to tell, against a backdrop of emotive history and architecture.
Maize, or corn, has its history from when Mexico was Meso-America and farmed by the Toltecs, the Aztecs and the Mayan civilisations. Today, maize does not require any processing. Elotes are grilled corn cobs, served up on a stick with a variety of mouth-watering condiments, from a simple squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt to butter and cheese
The Mexican popularity for street food has developed due to a demand for “antojitos” (snacks or nibbles) and the exciting flavours achieved from the Hispanic ingredients that play a huge role in the characteristics of Mexican street food.
In Mexico City, a visit to the Barrio de la Merced is the heart of the city’s historical commercial district where there exist large communities of Jewish, Lebanese all of which play a part in the influencing of flavours.
From early morning to late at night stalls line the streets serving up tacos cooked on a comal, a flat griddle used to prepare a variety of foods and filled with local delicacies such as bull’s eyes, brains and intestines.
Favourite dishes include Caldo de Gallina, cooked fresh daily with herbs and onions, served up with rice or chickpeas with a variety of condiments to self-serve such as lime, salsa, finely chopped habanero and onions, and roasted chilli flakes, enabling personal seasoning preference. A great local trick is to take a tortilla and spread with salsa for dipping into the soup to give a fantastic heated kick: a massive bowl for less than £2.00, incredible value.
Another hugely popular and flavoursome street food is the tlacoyo, commonly referred to in Mexico as the “ancestor of the tortilla”. Typically Mexican, consisting of a thick oval shaped dough called masa, sometimes blue in colour when prepared with the natural blue corn, and filled with various ingredients including frijoles (traditional black beans) and butternut squash blossoms, salsa, onion, chillies.
The tlacoyo is an ancient creation from Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures and forms the basis of many creations by merely adding delicious toppings and stuffing. Recent food festivals in Mexico have given these firm favourites a modern twist by stuffing with chickpeas and avocado leaves and topping with fried pork skin.
Birria, in Spanish, literally means a disaster or a mess, but the birria served up on the streets of Mexico is anything but a disaster! Initially, from the Mexican state of Jalisco and Michoacán, this rustic and spicy stew composed traditionally of goat meat although may contain a mix of goat, beef and mutton, cooked for many hours until it is meltingly delicious. Served up with a plate of tortillas on the side, the heat can be as hot as you can handle, with a variety of condiments and seasoning on offer including lime juice, fragrantly fried chillies and salsa picante. Ladle onto a fresh tortilla, add some chopped onion and a little more salsa, wrap and eat. Heavenly and hearty.
Mole, pronounced “molay” is the name for the many types of rich, flavoursome sauces that accompany meat or rice. Mole comes in differing colours including yellow, red black and green. The sauces typically come about from the blending of approximately 30 ingredients including nuts, fruits and various seasonings such as chilli. They can be a filling for tamales or a topping for enchiladas.
Original Content by Tracy Jennifer on behalf of City Guide Gibraltar