Curious About Mexican Food?

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Forget everything you know about Tex-Mex food—sure, you can always find nachos, burritos and quesadillas in Mexico but this is not what Mexican food is about.

Food in Mexico is cheap, filling, simple and tasty. This is one of these cuisines where you can actually recognize all the ingredients (i.e. unlike Chinese or French cuisine) and where spices and sauces make all the difference.

We ate most of our meals in simple lunchería and local restaurants, with the exception of a couple of Italian restaurants (and an Argentinean one). Our bills ranged from 100 to 300 pesos (US$7 to $21) with a couple of sodas.

In the morning, eggs are a popular choice. They can be scrambled (usually with bacon, ham, mushrooms, chaya—the Mayan “spinach”—or chorizo), fried or served as an omelette. They usually come with a side of beans and rice or salad. Dulces such as croissants or sweet breads are also widely available, as well as “hot cakes” (pancakes).

There is always a basket of corn chips and salsa—usually a red and a green salsa, one very spicy and the other one less so—on the table. You can munch on them while waiting for your food… it’s free!

Most mains (such as eggs, fish, meat, etc.) are served with tortillas, thin flatbread made with corn or flour, stacked in a basket and wrapped into a towel. This is basically the Mexican “baguette”, you put some of your food in the tortilla, add some salsa, wrap and eat. I can’t believe the number of gringos who complain they are sick of tortillas… I could eat the entire basket! I like the fact that the process of “wrapping” your food makes you slow down and enjoy it. Tortillas are also used in dishes such as burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas etc.

Oh, note that the most popular brand of sliced bread (and cakes) here is… Bimbo. Yep. Bimbo is also a big sponsor of sport games, so you can find guys wearing “Bimbo” jerseys. Always makes me smile.

What Yucatán dishes did I try?

  • Tamal, corn-made dough steamed in a leaf wrapper and filled with pork or chicken
  • Papadzules, tortillas filled with diced boiled eggs and served with a spicy pumpkin seeds sauce
  • Cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish
  • Sopa de lime, a soup with chicken, shredded tortilla bits and a zest of lime

I had “Mexican fast food” a few times, such as gorditas (thick tortillas filled with… well, whatever you want, my favourite are bell pepper with cream, potatoes and chorizo and beans and cheese), quesadillas (same idea, with a folded tortilla) and burritos. There are also sopes, huarraches, etc.—same idea, different way to serve some meat on a tortilla. I am not a huge fan of tacos, I find them messy to eat! Tortas are the local sandwich, with some meat with avocado, tomato and salsa on a bun.

Another popular dish, available anywhere, is fajitas, stir-fried chicken, beef or fish with veggies and the usual beans, rice, tortilla and salsa. We had a lot of fish and chicken, grilled, breaded or steamed.

For dessert, there is always the panadería. Popular street food include arroz con leche (rice and milk… riz au lait like in France!), paletas (ice cream bars) and chocobanana (my favourite—an entire banana coated in chocolate and served on a stick, frozen). And of course, marquisetasvery thin and crusty crêpes with either Nutella, dulce de leche, jam, condensed milk or cheese. Apparently, a local favourite is combinada, i.e. cheese AND Nutella. I like to keep an open mind but… I ditched the cheese and asked for just Nutella, muchas gracias.

There isn’t a lot of foreign food in this part of Mexico, with the exception of a few Argentinean parillas and Italian restaurants. Burger King seem to be the local favourite, McDonalds’ was harder to find. I also spotted a few Subway, a KFC, Dominoes and more “upscale” US franchises such as Starbucks.

There is nothing I didn’t like in Mexico—I cleaned my plate pretty much every time!

You can see the full set of Estación Méx­ico on Flickr.

Chips and Salsa

Chips and Salsa

Sopa

Sopa

Fajitas

Fajitas

Fish

Fish

Tacos

Tacos

Raviolis

Raviolis

Parilla Argentina

Parilla Argentina

Bimbo Bread

Bimbo Bread

Tamale

Tamal

Breakfast (Eggs and Beans)

Breakfast (Eggs and Beans)

Breakfast

Breakfast

Street Food

Street Food

Fish

Fish

Fish Fajitas

Fish Fajitas

Ice Cream

Ice Cream

Mayan Crepe

Mayan Crepe

Mexican Food

Mexican Food

Fajitas

Fajitas

Mayan Pork

Mayan Pork

Salsa

Salsa

Salad

Salad

Mayan Pork

Mayan Pork

Pollo Pilbil

Pollo Pilbil

Chicken

Chicken

Tamale

Tamal

Papadzules

Papadzules

Making Quesadillas

Making Quesadillas

You can see the full set of Estación Méx­ico on Flickr.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

18 Comments

  1. There’s not one of those dishes in your pictures that I wouldn’t try. Thanks so much for doing this post!

    I have a French friend (my only one here really) who spent a year after high school in Mexico. She’s the one that told me about Mexican food, about how spicy it is. That’s definitely why I want to try this food. I’m also also crazy about fish and tomatoes and it looks like there’s a lot of that in Mexican cuisine.

    Your two pictures of tamales look very different. I can see that in one picture there is a green leaf. Can you eat the leaf? What does the rest of that picture consist of? And in the other picture it looks like there are leaves as well, but something about them makes me think of corn on the cob leaves. What am I looking at?

    Just curious, but what are their soups like? Do they have chunky soups?

    What a colourful post!

    • You don’t eat the leaves (well, unless you are Mark… but he eats he shoes too so… :lol:). It’s basically the “wrapping”. I think in one the pictures, the tamal is unwrapped and in the other one it’s not. The first tamal was the best… the second one was street food and was a bit mushy.

      Mexicans seem to love soup considering the wide variety of the powder kind at the supermarket. In restaurants, it’s mostly the broth kind of sopa de lima which has chunks of chicken and bits of tortillas.

  2. Sorry but I have seeing so many times in so many different places that I have to make a comment,it is a very common mistake.
    Is not TAMALE is TAMAL(singular)and the plural is TAMALES and I love them and also miss them.

    • Muchas gracias, I had no idea! I did see it spelled “tamale” on menus… but it was often plural for some reason. I’m going to correct it. Thank you for pointing it out, I’m a word nerd and I like to get things right!

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