As a chef, I used to be a huge fan of fine dining, fusion food and the general art of the plate, in recent years however, traveling the world has brought my back to the very heart of what cooking actually means. This new approach of mine has made me fall back in love with the beauty and simplicity of food and more specifically, with the street food culture. When done in the right way, street food can give an insight into a country’s culture and very often I have found that food cooked by someone who cares, on a small gas stove or hotplate, to be the finest food which you can find. My favorite place to eat street food is in Mexico and here are some of my favorite dishes.
It would be foolish not to mention tacos, here they are not the hard-shell variety which you may have tried in the past but a soft tortilla filled with any number of ingredients. Different vendors will specialize in varying types of fillings and serve it with me chopped onions, some cilantro, a splash of salsa and finally some fresh cut limes. Here are some of the fillings that you can expect to find.
- Pastor- Lamb which has been cooked on a spit
- Carnitas – Braised or roasted pork
- Longaniza – Chorizo-like sausage
- Lengua – Ox tongue
- Tripita – Grilled tripe
These little delights are made using a dough which comes from blue corn and gives a green color to the dough, they are formed into thick pads about the size of your hand and then fried with ingredients both inside and out. Often these will be stuffed with black beans and served with salsa, cheese and napoles (cactus) on top.
Each morning in Mexico City you can here the men and women shouting at the tops of their voices that they have tamales, beautiful packets of joy which are usually served by the person shouting, direct from their bicycle. Tamales are made from a corn-based dough, which have been mixed with any range of meats and spices which are then formed into a packet and cooked in a corn husk. They are steamed and sold hot, still inside their husk. Traditionally you will eat these with a chunk of crispy bread and a splash of lime.
If you haven’t tried a quesadilla in Mexico, then you haven’t tried a quesadilla and that blend of cheddar and monterrey jack cheese which you’ve packed into a flour wrap, is nothing close to what you will experience here. The quesadillas in Mexico are made using corn tortillas which are packed with delicious cheese from Oaxaca which melts perfectly, the quesadilla is then deep fried quickly and served with cream and white cheese sprinkled on the top. Quesadillas to vary somewhat, often you can find the tortilla made from wheat, and also how they are served in terms of the amount of fillings which you can add and even in size, some places specializing in footlong versions!
Mexican street food is my favorite in the world, let me know what your favorite kind of street food is in the comments section.