Feb 24, 2009

Fresh Air Food...and Drink.

In the two weeks Gail & Walter were here, we ate all our meals out in the fresh air.
Our now functional palapa eating area is where we had our breakfasts, and most of our lunches, dinners and snacks. The TV has become a lonely old friend.
After eating, we would retire to our comfy couches and chairs and settle in for more chat and reading time. I consumed two novels these last two weeks, a real measure of relaxing for me.

Taking it to the Street...
It is a common fear of travelers to Mexico that they will, or might likely at least, catch the dreaded Montezuma’s Revenge, Tourista, or more precisely, traveler's diarrhea.
We decided years ago on our first trip deep into Mexico, that we would not deprive ourselves of the tasty local Baja specialty, fish tacos. We held out until the second day, then indulged and became addicted, eating them virtually every day for the rest of the trip.
Since that time, 8 years ago, we have continued to enjoy the local street food, sometimes at open air eateries, but often from the sidewalk vendors. They prepare and dispense a wide variety of flavorful food, with regional variations -- usually tacos, but also barbeced-whole-fish-on-a-stick (Guayabitos), variations of Mexican corn-on-the-cob with all the trimmings. On one trio to Guadalajara, I tried our over a dozen new, different edibles and drinkables, my favorite being a slightly fermented corn brew, tejuino, nutritious and refreshing.
There are few things I don’t care for, such as chicheron -- deep-fried or even worse, stewed pig skin. A lot of street food can be fatty and starchy. To make the popular empanada take a circle of corn dough, fill it with meat or cheese, deep fry it, and then add some salsa and thick creme. Can you say “myocardial infarction?”
A Mexican style sandwich, “torta”, usually starts with a fresh bun, slathered with mayonnaise, which is grilled before adding a variety of fillings, always ending up very tasty. Even the lowly hot-dog is a flavor treat mexican style. When we were in Catamaco last spring, we treated ourselves to several of these hand-made delights with about six condiments over the weiner, all for 7 pesos: about 50c US.
Here around the city of Playa, there are portable lunch stands on many corners, busy with the local workers and passersby. I have my favorites that serve salbutes, and panuchos. In the evenings, many little restaurants feature pastor, pork and/or chicken barbecued-on-a-spit. Even right here where our PaaMul road joins the highway there are two busy taco stands, that have a wide variety of familiar and mysterious fillings including chiles rellenos.
Our neighbors Bob and Dot have a rule never to eat at any food stand that is not permanently bolted down. Maybe I am just lucky, or have slowly insulated my internal systems, but in these 7 years, I have had exactly one instance of overnight purging. (Susan’s number is three.)
So when our Canadian visitors came here for their first trip, we were a bit wary on their account. We have heard the stories of the dreaded ailments that really put a damper on a holiday.
However, they were game to try the local food, and every second day or so, we stopped somewhere for lunch or dinner. (I think food just tastes better in the open air and it is a bonus if you have your feet in the sand.)
We tried a couple of “nice” restaurants, but our favorite was the the busy and economical El Fogon. (See photo from previous post) My prairie-dog brother-in-law even out-hotted me in the spicy salsa too! “Hotter, hotter...!”
The punch line is, we got an e-mail that they are home, safe and sound, full of good memories, and as far as we know, no bugs. Yay!

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