One of the things I love about Mexican cuisine is the way it lends itself to casual eating. Simple foods with fresh ingredients shine. So, last night we had a dinner of street food.
Our first stop was a pizza place recommended by Trip Advisor. Okay, not traditional Mexican food but a testament to the booming tourist industry here. Still, the “hole-in-the-wall”‘style of the place is typical to every street vendor.
Next we needed a dose of local fare so we set out in search of something suitable. A shining “Tacqueria” sign down a side street from the circus of 5th Avenue shone like a beacon so we ventured towards it.
The sight of the cooking meat was enticing and the ubiquitous plastic chairs and yellow decor screamed authenticity. The sincerity of the waiter on the street clinched the deal: “Quieres un taco?” We had pork tacos (from the cooking tower of slices in the go) with tender gently spiced meat and soft tortilla that melted in our mouths. The tacos were rendered sublime by the homemade condiments and the Corona with a squeeze of fresh lime.We wandered some more and thought about another savoury nibble but our tastebuds were satiated. We watched the people, and chuckled at the hucksters and their spiels for the tourists. We were amazed that a young vendor thought we were a likely sale for drugs (“señor! Do you want cocaine? Ecstasy?) We were also dismayed by the fact that embracing each other seemed to brand us as “honeymooners”; so many North Americans are uncomfortable with displays of public affection.
By the time we saw The Chocolate Cafe our minds were made up – dessert was in the offing. I had a Mayan Hot Chocolate and Martin had a piece of chocolate cake. In Mexico chocolate means cocoa, so the flavour is different than his French-styled sponge with ganache filling. The texture is less silky but there remains a richness to the flavour; it’s just not as buttery. We watched as Friday night energy built up, with some locals leaving work and more tourists hitting party mode.
Rejuvenated by our latest morsel we headed back to our “pension”. The promenade after eating and our leisurely conversation punctuated by the street’s entertainment was the perfect digestif.
And so are foodie memories made on vacation. A healthy dose of spontaneity, a pinch of a sense of adventure and a few cups of energy to keep you propelled until you are satiated. Dusted with the magic of a foreign place, it makes the perfect recipe for a memorable experience.
You know you’re a foodie when an adventure in a foreign country is going to the grocery store.
We went to the Centro Mart here in Playa del Carmen – it’s like Superstore back home. But we don’t have these kind of things:
Not bottled milk, but bottled rice concentrate. It’s like pulverized rice pudding. And it comes in flavours too, like chocolate and coconut. Full of nutrients!
You might have had tortillas but were they this fresh? I watched while the girl poured in the batter and then minutes later the flattened and toasted tortillas rolled out in the conveyor belt. I got them still warm!
Ceviche anyone? – in bulk. Fill your boots.
Chicurron, or crackling, as my mom called it when I was a kid. It’s fried pork rind. I don’t think it has any nutrients but if you like crispy things, it’s amazing.
These papayas are not just in honour of Superboel weekend – they are always this big here. I don’t know whether it’s the sun and heat or soil or what but they are big, and tasty. This half worked out to about $1.50 CDN.
Altogether we spent $40 – for a monster bottle of vodka and enough mix for the week, 3 large water jugs, some bananas, an avocado, chips and salsa for the week, a few pastries and sandwich fixings for tomorrow’s lunch.
I am doing the happy dance! Flavours galore, freshness abounding (okay, maybe that’s not a word but you know what I mean) – and I’m on holiday.
Have to go experience more exotic things. Talk to you tomorrow, or as the locals say, “Hasta luego!”
The glory days of air travel are gone; it seems all that is left of the in-flight service from a foodie perspective is the insipid cry of “peanuts, pretzels!” As the flight attendants wander down the aisle.
Granted, airline food (at least in economy class where I’ve been eating it) has not been any great shakes for a long while. But nowadays you might as well bring your own, since it’s all our packaged snack items anyway.
Travelling by air used to be a grand experience in itself, with cocktails and full meals on platters with silverware. It was a full service, but now you purchase the service in pieces – buy a snack, buy a drink, buy your space for your luggage…
Don’t get me wrong, I know air crews still work hard. I am just the kind of person who enjoys a smooth ride as opposed to feeling the speed bumps created by breaking things up into little pieces. Isn’t the journey supposed to be as much fun as the destination?
You will also see a few guest posts from my worldly mom, Nancy, who is wintering in San Carlos, Mexico and has spent the last few summers “on the continent”, touring Europe. She has graciously offered to fill in since my ability to post might be hampered on vacation (whether by intermittent wifi or too many margaritas!)
Here’s to enjoying whatever you find on your plate and in your glass!