Man, it’s been a while. I’m in Mexico City now, which is arguably the culinary capital of this country. It has certainly (and deservedly) gained a reputation for gastronomical goodness on the world stage. Restaurants like Biko and Pujol - named one of the “Best 50 Restaurants in the World” by those with more culinary knowledge than I’ll ever have - keep the spotlight on central Mexico.
But it’s the streetfood that keeps the belly of this city’s ~20 million citizens full and satisfied. And that’s where I turned for one of my first meals in this megalopolis.
The choices can be overwhelming; it’s not a far cry to say that nearly every other block in the heart of this city has dozens of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. So, at around noon yesterday, I found myself just south of the city’s historic center on a street completely lined with carts and shops waiting to feed passersby.
I stopped at a cart just outside of El Mercado San Juan and took up a seat - really just a milk-crate turned on its side - in front of the grill. I pointed at three of the blue-black tortilla-looking things I had seen around town and said “Tres. Gracias.”
The cart’s tenant - a man named Juan - asked what I wanted with my meal. “Uhhhh…”
I settled on queso, salsa verde, and chorizo. And a coke. Always a coke.
The blue-black tortilla things, I found out, are called “Tlacoyos.” An oval-shaped cake made of masa (a dough made of blue cornmeal in this case), tlacoyos are generally meant as an accompaniment to a larger meal. Stuffed with beans (or cheese or chicharron), they can be dipped in salsa or topped with cheese and meat, which is how I had them.
So good. Heartier than a taco or a sope, three of these cornmeal masterpieces were almost too much for me. I finished my coke and chatted with Juan for a bit about my bike trip and about Chicago. He used to live in Chicago at 47th and Ashland and commuted to Indiana to work as a laborer, so we shared a few stories about the city. Unsurprisingly, he hated the winters.
Fully satisfied, I shook Juan’s hand and hopped back on my bike to explore more of this beautiful city.