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Travel Diary

Spicing up hot weather menus is a breeze with authentically inspired Mexican street food.

Breakfast, at a small open air restaurant owned by my freind's sister. We were served the chef's choice of the day: Chorizo con huevos (softly scrambled eggs with spicy chunks of chorizo), or huevos ala mexicana (scrambled or fried eggs with sauteed vegetables), soft, warm corn tortillas, frijoles negros de la olla (whole black beans simmered in a savory stock), fresh fruit, sopa de pollo verdure (green chile soup), enchilada verdes (roasted sweet potato and poblano chile enchaladas with tomatillo and jalapeno sauce). Something delicious every day….

Sanbornes restaurant, Mexico City, family-style service: Sopa de jalapeno (soup) made with chicken and chipotle chiles and chiles en nogada (roasted poblano chiles stuffed with fork-tender, slow-roasted pork, slathered with a creamy walnut sauce and juicy pomegranate seeds).

Late night street vendors: Pambazo, fried bread dipped in guajillo chili* sauce and stuffed with potatoes and chorizo and served with four different salsas. Amazing! Enjoyed with a cold beer standing on a street corner with locals.

Across the street on the other corner, I grab a quick quesadilla. Nothing like ours in the US. A thick masa cake is deep fried in a makeshift wok-type vessel. The steaming hot cake is then split open, stuffed with what you want (slow-cooked shredded pork, chicken, beef, tongue, or chewy pork rinds), queso fresca (cows milk cheese), and is served with many types of salsas.

*The guajillo chile is one of the most popular dried chiles used in Mexican cooking, second only to the ancho. It has a flat red color, a smoky sweet flavor, and packs a moderate heat intensity. Many cooks run the reconstituted pepper puree through a strainer to get rid of the tough outer skin.

Day three: visited a historically famous artisanal town called Coyoacan. We had helado (Mexican ice cream). There were at least 40 flavors. I tried mamey, a local tropical fruit, which was awesome.

Xochimilco, a town surrounded by canals. We floated in a beautiful painted boat through the canals. Vendors on the other boats stop by selling almost anything you could want. Most memorable was esquites, a cup of fresh corn kernels seasoned with epazote (a pungent herb), chile, and lime.

Next day, we had tamales from the lady selling her tamales from a bicycle, neighborhood to neighborhood. The tamales were very light, like sponge cake, stuffed with mole pollo (tender poultry), raisins, rajas (marinated chile strips) and tomato, amazing once again.

Teotihuacan…the pyramids incredible. Lunch in a cave….yep, in a cave! Gruta Restaurante, we had slow roasted, spiced, tender lamb enclosed in maguey cactus leaves and seared beef tenderloin, served with a chipotle bearnaise type of sauce.

Downtown Mexico city one night for Cabrito al Horno, roasted baby goat. A giant platter appeared, abundant with the hind quarters and breast, warm tortillas, condiments. The meat was mild, like lamb. It was so exquisite, I can't even remember what else we ate!

On to Oaxtepec where we had the best of the best at the marcadoCecina air dried beef and chorizo. It's cooked on small charcoal grills right in front of you. There are bowls of red and green salsas and the meat is served with corn tortillas. We stopped by one of the other booths at the market for a chunk of white and salty fresh cheese. I will never forget this experience — one of the best tasting things I have ever eaten.

Acapulco. Back roads to a tiny hole in the wall. Three elderly ladies were prepping the posole on a card table in a little secluded cafe. They served us a very large bowl of soup with avocado, chicharones (fried pork rinds), toasted chili pasilla, cilantro, onions, chipotle dolce, and manzano chiles. Off the hook!

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