It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Foodie Spotlight but it was well worth the wait. Today’s spotlight is on Audrey Abrams!
Audrey is one of my favorite land mermaids on the planet. We met as undergrads at Simmons College and I was incredibly grateful to meet someone who shared my sense of humor and was incredibly intelligent and loved to have fun. Even though we went our separate ways (she went on to get her Masters in Library Sciences and I made terrible life decisions to bounce around the United States) we’ve stayed in touch! Thank goodness too. She gets it. All of it. She’s
Audrey is currently living in Lima, Peru and working on making the rest of our daily lives look incredibly dull by comparison.
A perfect example of this: a couple weeks ago I noticed (aka I was Facebook stalking) that she had ventured to Mexico City. I asked if she’d be willing to write a guest entry for Good Eats: Mundial about a food tour she went on while there and she graciously accepted.
When you’re done reading make sure you go to her blog: Life in Espanol to read up about life in Peru.
After meeting with our tour guide Anias in front of the grand Palacio de Bellas Artes our 1st stop of the day was at a street food stand called El K-Guamo to sample some seafood tostadas. This place started out as a small stand that became so popular it
morphed into two larger stands with a counter top and tall stools for sitting, and it has since become so popular it also has an actual restaurant location a few blocks away in the central part of Mexico City.
El K-Guamo gets so busy during lunchtime that you can hardly walk through this block for the crushing amount of people lined up waiting to get their tostada. We all bellied up to the bar and first we were given a little cup of soup- caldo de camarones
(shrimp soup). It was a flavorful little shot of a shrimp broth soup. Then we were given a choice of camarones, pulpo (octopus), or crangrejo azul (blue crab). I went with octopus and my friend chose blue crab so we could share. It was divine! The pulpo was cooked perfectly- quite tender and flavorful. Aside from the seafood the tostadas were adorned with avocado, shredded cabbage, and limejuice.
To me, a seafood lover, this dish was absolute perfection in both taste and presentation. El K-Guam Guamo is definitely a place I want to come back to if I ever get the chance to visit Mexico City again.
We made our way through the maze of narrow streets to our 2nd stop of the day the Mercado San Juan, considered one of the high end/artisanal food markets in Mexico City. Here we met some of the vendors who sell handmade Oaxacan specialties, tropical fruits, Mexican wine, and dried chiles among a myriad of other foodstuffs. The highlights, for me, were definitely the two of the many varieties of cheeses we sampled- the Oaxaca cheese was a lot like smoked mozzarella stringy crossed with the flavor of Monterey Jack as well as a deliciously creamy requeson which tasted like the most decadent ricotta I’ve ever had. Plus I will not ever forget what was quite possibly the most interesting tasting of this stop; fried chapulines (crickets- Yes! Crickets!). I tried chapulines dusted in chili powder and some that were fried in garlic oil, crunchy and salty, but not something I’d want to eat all the time.
After Mercado San Juan we walked two blocks over to a tortilleria. The whole street was lined with one room shops all selling freshly made tortillas. We stopped at one, though the name of the establishment escapes me, and Anias told us a little bit about the history of tortillas and of course, the proper way to eat them. We were all given a tortilla hot off the grill and were instructed to sprinkle a bit of salt on, then quickly roll it up into a tight tube, and then munch away; the perfect to-go snack!
With piping hot tacos in hand our group made its way through the ever more packed and windy streets only to stop suddenly at an unassuming street corner. Here we met a one-woman operation on a street corner making and selling blue corn quesadillas and tlacoyos. After the seafood tostada, the tlacoyos were my second favorite dish; a slightly thicker than average hand formed tortilla stuffed with mashed fava beans and grilled over charcoal, topped with nopales, shredded cabbage and queso fresco.
From there we meandered a few blocks over to a tiny restaurant called Fonda Mi Lupita. Here we got to sample a traditional mole poblano (the kind made with chocolate). The proprietor, owner, and mole creator a very sweet old woman who reminded us all of a grandmother-figure served us up little plates of mole with tortillas and bread to mop it up. Mole poblano has a rich, complex flavor that is neither spicy nor sweet from the chocolate that is included in the recipe, but tangy and savory. I would have loved to try it over some shredded chicken or pork.
After departing from Fonda Mi Lupita, Anias brought us to another market, called Mercado San Juan Arcos de Belen. This market, she told us, was a more typical market unlike the artisanal market we first visited. The atmosphere here was much more chaotic and hectic than Mercado San Juan, and the place was absolutely jam-packed with people. Quite close to the entrance we stopped at one stall to sample steak flautas. Flautas are similar to what we know in the U.S. as taquitos. Our flautas were served up piping hot with shredded cabbage, red salsa, and queso fresco crumbled on top. And the best way to eat them, Anias told us, is to just pick it up and chow down until its gone.
Once we finished our flautas our group trooped across the street to Taqueria Gonzales, one of the more popular taqueria’s in the Centro Historico district, to sample their tacos campechanos. A very tasty combination of pork and beef is piled high on a tortilla along with caramelized onions and nopales. Although it was overall a delicious taco, I did not find the mix of meat to be very flavorful, so this stop was not my absolute favorite.
And our final stop of this whirlwind tour was at Pulqueria Las Duelistas for pulque tasting. Pulque is a traditional Mexican alcohol made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. With its unique flavor and viscous texture (think: thick kombucha); it is not a drink for the faint of heart (or stomach). We were all able to sample the different flavors Pulqueria offered that day: guava, mango & chili, oatmeal & cinnamon, celery & chili, beetroot, as well as the unflavored pulque. This last stop fell flat for me as well as for some of the other tour members, as puqlue is not something that is easy to drink due to its consistency and flavor, not to mention we were all cramped into the corner of a very crowded bar.
Overall the EatMexico Market tour was a fantastic way to experience a livelier and more authentic side of Mexico City. It was a great introduction to a city I did not know much about and had never had much interest in visiting. I’m pretty sure that I’d have never been able to taste fresh hot tortillas (seriously, heaven, guys) nor would I have gotten the opportunity to experience Mexico City culture as it is for its inhabitants and learn about its culinary history (something that is of great personal interest to me) if I’d not taken this tour. And I can safely say that Mexican food will never be the same for me again!