Best eats are street on the
ALTHOUGH Montezuma’s revenge may lurk in every bite, the fun place to eat in Mexico City is on the streets. From first light to late at night, Amerindian and mestizo women at makeshift, mobile and hole- in- the- wall kitchens slap handfuls of yellow or blue corn paste into shape and then grill, fry, steam, fill and fold them into tacos, tortillas, burritos, quesadillas, gordas, flautas, tostados, tomales and other variations on the seemingly endless taco/ tortilla theme with nary a corn chip or nacho in sight.
In residential areas, you find a few on the corner of every second or third block where you might get to sit on a low stool and eat your food off a recycled plastic plate.
Elsewhere it’s standing room and paper napkins only among a cacophony of spruikers shouting their wares as the kitchens and crowds pack the streets of the historic centre, the markets, tourist spots and parks.
Mingle with hawkers and the masses to select combinations of fillings running from pork skin, and other parts of the pig, crisped in cauldrons of fat to hacked beef, sausages, stringy cheese, chopped onions, cactus leaf, potatoes, tomatoes, avocado, bean paste and coriander moistened with a squeeze of lime and topped with your choice of a fiery- looking red chilli salsa or a pale, innocent- looking one which, sucked in on the locals’ suggestion and to their great entertainment, proved volcanic.
All this to be washed down with freshlypressed fruit and vegetable juices, rice milk flavoured with vanilla and cinnamon or a drink made from the flowers of a herb.
Then, as you can imagine with the US just over the border, there are young kids with hot boxes on bicycles selling hot dogs and hamburgers with ketchup plus, of course, Coca- Cola. But they are far less popular.
It’s all cheap, crazily chaotic and colourful, everything’s fresh and the flavours are great despite conditions that would give a Hobart City Council health inspector a coronary.
And, in the world’s largest plaza in one of the world’s largest cities, how do they celebrate the Dia de los Reyes ( the Three Kings or Wise Men), the day Mexican children receive their Christmas presents? With the world’s largest cake of course. Their traditional Rosca de Reyes, a lavishly- decorated cake large enough to feed the teeming thousands of kids and parents who pack the historic main square and form hundreds of queues for a free taste, the last piece being served when we were just two from the head of the queue.
I can’t tell you what it tasted like, but it certainly looked pretty.
FLAVOURSOME: Preparing a 40.9m taco ( left); adding sauce to the creation ( top); queuing up for a slice of a traditional Rosca de Reyes ( above).