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Traditional, Authentic, Regional etc. Cuisine in Mexico City

Traditional, Authentic, Regional etc. Cuisine in Mexico City

Old Aug 3, 13, 5:40 pm
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Traditional, Authentic, Regional etc. Cuisine in Mexico City

● Huitlacoche is a delicious fungus for those who like mushrooms and truffle - it has an earthy flavor, and in the US it grows but is known as "corn smut" and is usually thrown out (a friend of mine told me her entire corn crop had been ruined by corn smut and she had thrown it out - I nearly cried!)

Other interesting things to try, more of the insect order (you can become entomophagous, like me ):

● Gusanos de maguey (goo-SAN-oes day mah-GAY) or chinicuiles (chee-knee-KWEEL-ess) - the larvae of a moth that inhabits two Agave / century plants (think Tequila) and are often served dried; yummy and crunchy. Meocuiles (mayo-KWEEL-ess) are similar butterfly larvae (caterpillars).

● Escamoles (ess-come-OH-less) - ant eggs, these look like and are about the size of small pine nuts, very rich, with a mild nutty flavor, only available in seasons (rainy season) and harvested from, naturally, Agave root balls.

● Chapulines (chop-ooh-LEE-ness) - grasshoppers are nutritious, and may be served with a sauce or in chocolate. Best eaten fried, baked, roasted, in sauces, and not raw - they can infect with tapeworms if eaten raw.

● Axayácatl (ush-ah-YAH-cuttle) - water beetles, and their eggs, ahuauhtli (uh-WOW-tlee) (like caviar).

● Jumiles (who-MEAL-ess) and chumiles - small Pentatomid stink bugs (plentiful only Nov-Feb), in Oaxaca ground and made into a tasty sauce with tomatoes, chile and onion; in my home area, Morelos (and especially Taxco, Gro.) served alive or toasted in tacos - interesting to try to prevent their escape while you eat. Gives an entirely new meaning to "fast food".

Insects and fungi form a decent amount of traditional native foods - plentiful and high in protein - throughout the world, from Australia (witchetty grubs) to Africa (termites etc.) to Asia to the Americas. Though many of us have prejudices against eating them it's always worth a try - some are truly delicious, and when I go home to Mexico I always hope escamoles or huitlacoches are in season; (chapulines and gusanos de maguey are often dried and available year 'round).

This article (from El Porvenir and in Spanish, so use Google translate if you want English) lists various comestible insects.

El Cardenal (link to English website) and other restaurants with some traditional and precolumbian fusion cuisine offer escamoles, huitlacoches, etc.

(For pronunciation, read guide words as if reading English.)

Last edited by JDiver; Aug 18, 13 at 1:09 pm
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Old Aug 4, 13, 9:09 pm
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aw
 
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Thanks for the tips guys, especially JDiver for offering such a comprehensive list.

One item that I look forward to trying is "hoja santa". The flavor of which has been said to be quite complex and compared to eucalyptus, licorice, nutmeg, mint, and tarragon among others. Barro Negro restaurant in Polanco makes a drink with this plant with chia and limon from what I have found.
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Old Aug 7, 13, 12:51 am
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It's part of the pepper complex - you can read more about it here. I enjoy it in pozole and chocolate - but for some it can be an acquired taste, much like some other spices we use, like achiote or epazote ("wormseed" in English, used especially in "frijoles de olla" - beans cooked in a clay pot - with its pronounced aroma, flavor and carminative effect - think "less gas" or "natural Beano").
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Old Aug 13, 13, 6:57 pm
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I'm pretty much used to "exotic" spices and flavors growing up in a Chinese household and being exposed to Nicaraguan, Costa Rican and Cuban food earlier in my life.
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Old Aug 16, 13, 9:33 pm
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Not so many ground insects used for spices in those countries. (I don't even think the Ticos use spices at all in some dishes, such as your typical "casado".) Chinese household, now, that's another issue... and those from Mexico can go to places that serve Sichuan cuisine - like the Five Pepper Chicken I had once in Chongqing, which actually had some chicken mixed into it.

That's the fun of travel - try some genuinely native foods, including local spices. In Mexico City there are even regional restaurants, such as Los Almendros - Yucatecan food (more achiote, etc.) Started in 1962 in Mérida (natch!) they expanded to Cancún and now also have restaurants in Polanco and Insurgentes Sur in the Federal District / Mexico City.

Oaxacan food? La Calenda, El Restaurante Doña Lula in Guadalupe Inn de Álvaro Obregón, Barro Negro in Col. Juarez, El Sazón Oaxaqueño on Isabel la Católica downtown...

La Fonda del Recuerdo for food from Gulf coastal Veracrúz, in Anzures / Miguel Hidalgo,

"Mexican" típico - many, including Villa Maria in Polanco (which means it is frequented by tourists), Las Margaritas or Beatricita in the Zona Rosa, El Cardenal (several locations, getting excellent reviews - this is where I go for breakfast or brunch with family), etc.

For a blowout, the venerable Restaurante Antiguo San Angel Inn in the 'burbs of San Angel / Obregón, or maybe Hacienda de los Morales in Colonia del Bosque (near Polanco) - both for the food and the ambiance. Plan three hours for these; the former built in 1776 as the Hacienda Goicoechea, the latter built in 1647 but with beginnings going back ~a century to the first attempts to grow and harvest silkworms in Mexico. (When I go out with family when I visit, and we want to have a big celebratory meal in a fabulous setting with gardens, music, etc. - we head to San Angel Inn - even if they do live nearby! )

For cheaper, traditional genuine tacos, flautas, pozole, etc. La Casa de Toño has maybe 12 locations (casa de TOE-knee-oh).

(We'll probably move all this out to a thread on Mexican food in Mexico or the like.)

Originally Posted by aw View Post
I'm pretty much used to "exotic" spices and flavors growing up in a Chinese household and being exposed to Nicaraguan, Costa Rican and Cuban food earlier in my life.
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Old Aug 17, 13, 2:15 am
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You are right about Costa Rican food being "bland". As a matter of fact, when have you heard of a Costa Rican restaurant outside of CR? Their coffee and chocolates on the other hand are another story.

La Casa de Toño is on my list of restaurants to try, along with El Cardenal. One place that caught my attention is La Pagoda, supposedly a vestige of Chinese owned cafeterias that serve both Chinese and Mexican food. When cultures collide, it makes for some interesting fusion food. Vietnamese and Filipino come to mind. For pre-Hispanic Aztec food I've heard good things about Fonda de Don Chon, especially their escamoles de hormiga and rabbit in adobo. Churreria el Moro is a "must" in my itinerary.

I love to eat and explore the culinary side of different places. Miami was home during my teenage years and recently I spent a month there on a family leave where I had the opportunity to get reacquainted with Cuban and Nicaraguan food. There are also some phenomenal Peruvian restaurants there as well. Heck, MIA is the "unofficial capital" of Latin America. I even heard that Key Biscayne nowadays has more Argentinians than locals.

Last edited by aw; Aug 17, 13 at 2:33 am
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Old Aug 19, 13, 1:26 pm
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The site Culinary Backstreets offers some very interesting tips and articles about the food scene in MEX. This has been one of my sources since I discovered them for my IST trip.
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