After a long delayed flight from the Yucatan Peninsula and an uninspiring airport burger at TGI Fridays (which, as it tuned out was the cause of just one of many “explosions” in our group on this journey) we finally arrived in the big smoke – Mexico City.
It’s crowded, smelly, dirty and I LOVE it! The streets are heaving with people crowding around one street food vendor after another, spilling out of restaurants and having a blast in bars – a sure sign that good food and a good time are literally on every corner.
I decide to give my tummy a rest for just 1 night and in the morning I can’t resist risking some “huevos rancheros” for brekky… even though it may cause a nuclear holocaust in my bowels. A crisp fried corn tortilla is topped with fried eggs and doused with a tomato based sauce laced with generous amounts of chile. Whatever the risk – this meal is worth it! It’s filling, nutritious and slaps you in the face with spice. The only thing that could make it better is if I had a hangover – it is THE breakfast of champions and I will definitely be tracking down an authentic recipe to use on shady mornings back home in Sydney.
Pan fry onions, fresh jalapenos, green peppers, garlic and a touch of ground cumin in some oil until soft.
Add some fresh chopped tomatoes, cayenne pepper and chicken stock and simmer until reduced then blend. Finish with freshly chopped coriander.
Although my $15 brekky was delicious, I felt the magnetic pull of the street vendor. I wanted something filthy. Ridiculously dirty and cheap. I wanted to mingle with the hot sweaty locals, battle through the crowd to get the front of the line for that ultimate meal which is almost certain to cause an internal world war 3.
We were staying in the CBD, the banking district with thousands of very seriously dressed bankers eating some very seriously good street food for lunch, which is usually about 3pm. There are no airs about it – the suits eat with the paupers, with their bare hands, off paper plates, and all while standing in the gutter. Mexican street food brings people together, young, old, rich, poor. I like that.
With tacos already crossed off my foodie checklist, my friend Katherine and I decide to get Mexico’s 2nd favourite street food, “tortas”, a special type of sandwich. It’s huge, costs less than $3, and is super healthy and delicious.
Torta con carne:
Find an extremely large, rectangular bread roll, slice in half and warm on a grill. Take about 300g of very slow cooked beef and chop into little pieces using a menacing looking machete atop a thick wooden block, a “tronco”. Place some grated queso Oaxaca directly onto a flat grill and allow to melt for 30secs and caramelise on the bottom, before topping with chopped meat and half the bread. Use a spatula to flip the whole lot over, ensuring the cheese has browned and melted slightly. Add thick slices of avocado and fresh tomato, top with bread and add your chosen condiment.
Condiments and sides make or break Mexican street food. They’re often the only non cooked component, so I recommend you stay away from them unless the vendor is busy with a high turnover… that being said Mexico city is a busy place and every single vendor seemed very busy and very fresh. Standards at most stalls are:
– salsa rojo (made with red-hot and smokey chiles de arbol)
– guacamole (a thin avocado sauce laced with plenty of lime juice)
– salsa Mexicana (finely chopped white onion, coriander and a little tomato)
– whole pickled jalapeno chiles
– pickled cactus
– fresh lime