Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ceviche to Cake

Food.  Aneta and I love trying new food whenever we can get our hands on it.  In Mexico they are all about food, we can't get away from it.  We have even come up with a nickname of food teasers for all of the vendors that are everywhere selling food on the streets.

We were wondering what this was coming down the street on fire and blowing his steam whistle.

Found out it was sweet potatoes and plantains douched with sweet milk
Potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and eggs covered in mayonnaise and doused with what else other than lemon and chile powder mixed with water, it is used on everything from mango to cucumber
It is hard not to buy some sort of food when we go to a town.  Going out and finding or ordering food has been quite the experience for us.  It gives us a chance to practice our Spanish and see what new food we can find.  Our favorite place to go to kill some time or a whole day is the Mercados in larger towns.  The Mercado's and smaller restaurants is where we have been eating most of our food due to the experience and availability.  There are plenty of upscale restaurants in any larger town that we could spend ten to twenty dollar meals at but that would be expensive after a while and is not as much fun.  Here you can find anything from hair extensions, cameras and kitchen ware to fruit, butcher shops, fresh fish and small restaurants.  While milling around Guadalajara we happened to walk into the largest Mercado in Mexico.  Mercado Libertad is four stories and has the footprint of two city blocks.  Before Mexico neither one of us knew how much Mexicans loved food.

Breakfast in a Mercado in Guadalajara
In the morning you can get anything from simple tacos to Mexican pastries or yogurt blended with different flavors then topped with fresh fruit and granola.  For lunch there are taco stands, taquerias, and luncherias with tortas.  In the evening the central plaza's come alive with people and food.  Vendors of all sorts come out with their carts, under a tarp or just out of the back of their car to sell tamales with fruit, tacos, tripple milk cakes, fresh breads and pastries.  The cakes here are not what we are used to.  They are made with what I have been told three different kinds of milk which give them a super rich flavor and are super moist.  If you let a cake here sit around too long it will sink into the plate because of all of the weight.  In the evening it is much cooler and most people are done working so they gather in the plazas to let loose and relax.

Fresh ice cream being made in Tlaquepaque
Another take on ice cream
Ceviche Tostadas, Tacos and Fresh Tortillas have become a staple of our diet ever since we crossed the border.  They are tasty and very affordable, we have been enjoying them for breakfast or a quick snack after a day on the beach or from walking around town.

Super moist and huge pieces of cake, we could not finish all of it
Ceviche tostadas for lunch in Puerta Vallarta.
We have found ceviche with most ingredients that come from the ocean, from pescado (fish), camaron (shrimp), octopus, mussels, lobster, or oysters.  It is soaked in lime juice to break down the protein by itself or with garlic, onions and cilantro, you can also have it mixed with mayonnaise, very tasty also.  The first day we tried it was in the Central Mercado in Mazatlan.  We were looking for a quick and fresh breakfast, after picking up some guava, papaya and some bananas.  Aneta kept going back to the stall that was packed with people sitting tightly around a counter eating ceviche.  At first we were skeptical to eat raw fish then we figured why not, so we asked in our broken Spanish what ingredients it contained.  We decided we would get one pescado tostada with lime and test the waters.  After a douse of fresh hot sauce more lime and a quick sniff test to make sure it was not too fishy we were ordering a few more.  At 5 to 15 pesos ($.38 to $1.20) a piece you can't go wrong for these tasty treats.

I must say that we have become spoiled in Mexico with the availability of freshly prepared food and produce.  One evening we were walking back to where we were staying in Sayulita and Aneta had a craving for fresh tortillas.  So we went to the tienda where she realized that it was too late in the evening for fresh tortillas because they were six to eight hours old and would not be as tasty anymore.  The tortillas are made at tortillarias where they have big squeaky machines that pop them out at the rate of one every few seconds.  Then they are weighed into one or half kilogram bags, put in coolers to keep them warm all day then delivered to tiendas where they are sold.  A Kilogram (2.2 lbs) of these tasty tortillas goes for about 14 pesos (about $1) The best tortillas are handmade on the spot at restaurants, we usually check to see if they are handmade because it makes all the difference.  In the central part of the country they primarily have corn tortillas.  The fresh flour tortillas are more of a northern Mexico tradition. 
We are trying to not let corn be our main staple so we have been trying to make smoothies whenever we get a chance (yes we brought a blender).  Whether they are just fruit and yogurt or with greens such as spinach or chard which we have successfully found at either the artisan markets or at the bigger grocery stores such as Mega and Walmart.  We thought we were getting away from Walmart's and Home Depots but they creep up on us in every larger town.  The best thing about the big supermarkets is the free and clean restrooms and bags of prewashed Popeye spinach (as we have been craving fresh greens and salads).

Yaka smoothie anyone?  This is what the inside looks like, I turned it inside out, look this huge fruit up.
I am sure you are wondering 'won't you get sick if you eat raw fruits and vegtables?'  Yes, you sure can; so we have been soaking them in Microdyn and water then rinse it with fresh water, which is basically iodine which is sold at most food stores.

Food will be a subject we plan on covering as we travel in different regions.  We have decided to add a page in the future on the food that stands out for us that we encounter along the way because we have found it to be so diverse.
At night the cake ladies come out to sell their triple milk cakes that are soaked with milk

What do you do with the tomatoes that were rejected by the U.S. and Canadian markets and then not needed for the Mexican Market?

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice for breakfast


The tropical fruit goes on forever along the coast

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