Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where will you EAT?

I wish I had a 500 peso bill for every time I've gotten that panicked question in relation to our trips to Mexico. If only I could charge, my name would be Gordita (I think I've heard that name whispered anyway) and I'd be permanently wedged into a white plastic chair with a Sol insignia glued on the back at a little palapa bar down Mexico way. And if only I could receive 1000 pesos for every inquiry as to whether I'm afraid of the drug cartels when I travel to Mexico, I could build a home on Isla Mujeres and retire!

But back to the food question. I hear the questions about food from family and friends and even other tourists while we're there. People either assume dining in Mexico is one big Tex-Mex fest with an endless string of burritos, nachos, and chimichanga platters, or they fear they'll be poisoned by unsafe food because anything not consumed from an all-inclusive buffet is a ticking time bomb. I recently even had a friend ask me if the bottled water in Mexico is safe to consume.

Well, vaya con Dios my darling. Hopefully, no one will die on the voyage and the food will be a far cry from the standard fare at the local Garcia's. Ha! I bet if I had 2000 pesos (I'm upping the tariff) for everyone whose ever gotten sick at the all-inclusive buffet in Mexico, I could probably live on a yacht moored in the Bay of Mujeres!

So here's the drill! When in Mexico, eat with wild abandon!

I will begin with the cautionary note! This, my friends, is what could kill you in Mexico. It is the green sauce in the little bowl. At one of our favorite restaurants on Isla Mujeres, the waiters always warn people that the green sauce is MUY CALIENTE! It will make you scream for your mama!

Since we visit ocean/beach destinations in Mexico, seafood is the local cuisine. One of my favorite must have's is the shrimp cocktail!

While the fried fish is technically bad if consumed everyday, I still eat it! And yes, it comes with those supposedly risky vegetables (read that silly warning the first time I went to Mexico) and the usual side of rice, and I eat that too! Yes, you can eat vegetables and salads in Mexico!

Here's another point I haven't quite been able to get across to a lot of my friends. Food in Mexico derives from all cuisines, just like here in the U.S. They have Italian, Asian, Sushi, Middle-Eastern -- you name it! The above is a plate of West Indian Tacos from The Mango, filled with chicken and slaw tossed in a fabulous peanut type sauce.

Now here's a plate that's probably more traditional Mexican. Enchilada suizas. And this could probably lead to an early death if consumed on a frequent basis because it has cream in it. But in all likelihood, it'll be death by heart attack, not salmonella!

And yes Dorothy, there is pizza in Mexico! In fact, it's a Milagro! The best pizza I've ever consumed in my life! (two more weeks, two more weeks)

Here we have more fresh food from the sea. A stuffed fish. A stuffed red snapper with shrimp to be exact. We discovered that the traditional red sauce on the left coast of Mexico is much more tomato-y. Not as spicey. More like tomato soup, but still wonderful!

And yes, I also ate the pay (pie)! I ate the pie and I did not die! In fact, the lady, evidently Chelly, carries the pie around on her head all day in the hot sun in Yelapa and it does not spoil. Tee hee. I would show you a photo of the slice of chocolate pie we purchased, but I ate it quickly before the thought of photographing it even crossed my mind. It was so good, especially the chocolate coconut, that it might be well worth the plane ticket and boat ride back to Yelapa just to buy the pie! And if I ever make the trip again, I WILL eat pie everyday!

Another favorite on both sides of Mexico is the guacamole. This is real guacamole, mashed from real avocados. No mayo and it does not come from a plastic tub at Costco! Sometimes if we don't want to go out to eat, we buy avocados and a bag of tostados from the supermercado and make it ourselves. Then we drag beach chairs out on the sand to the water and have our own little cocktail party.

Here's another dish that is fresh, good for you, and not dangeroso! Fruit platters are a common breakfast menu item in Mexico. After all, you're in the tropics! The fruit's often accompanied by yogurt and granola to be spooned over the top.

We often see the fishermen carry their fish directly from the panga to the restaurant. Here we have another red snapper -- the whole pescado. He was winking at me, but I've learned to ignore the eye. I don't eat the eye despite the fact that some think it's a delicacy. We did notice that plates weren't as likely on the left coast of Mexico to be accompanied by fresh crisp veggies. The salad, pictured here, was the usual side along with rice and beans.

So go! Abandon the all inclusive with its stamped out buffet line and discover all the great food Mexico has to offer!

You will be safe my friend! You WILL be safe! (I got that line from the hotel clerk who knocked on my hotel door at 10 p.m. the night of Hurricane Ida after he'd discovered I was still in the hotel. It's a good line!)

Oops! Forgot my second cautionary note. People who follow this advice are likely to gain weight! HA!


Moongrl722 said...

Brava, Brava! Food porn!!! I like to put a little piece of lettuce over the fish eye. It makes me more comfortable as I pick the flesh from his bones. :)
That was delightful! After spending so much time in Mexico eating real Mexican food, I have grown to dislike Tex Mex. Spoiled.

drgeo said...

Will the airline slap on an extra fee if my luggage weighs less on the flight home, but I weigh much more?

Is the fact I no longer fit into an airline seat sufficient excuse for never leaving Isla?

Life's a Beach! said...

drgeo, you can wedge yourself into the plastic palapa bar chair next to me and join the crowd that never leaves the island. When airlines start charging fares by weight, I'll be looking for a long-term rental.

Jana, I'm not a fan of Tex/Mex either. We have a new quick Mexican place close that's more authentic. The building and decor are strip mall, but they even serve menudo and lengua. (And I will pass on those two selections.) I'll be having the chicken enchiladas tonight for $3.70.

Isla Deb said...

I know what Jana means about not liking Tex Mex...me, too! The "Mamacita's" here has guacamole that's like bright green...it looks so unappetizing to me but everyone thinks it's "Mexican" food. Yuck! Great post, Beck. Now I'm hungry.

Life's a Beach! said...

Deb, I am so enjoying your new blog! Only 11 more days and I can chow down on some of this food!

Ann said...

Great post! making me hungry, though! Not too many more days to wait!

Nancy said...

I agree, I am spoiled too and don't want to eat at the Tex-Mex places anymore. I used to go for the combo plates but now I always order my tacos "estilo Mexicano" and head for the section of the menu with the most authentic entrees I can find. I DO eat lengua and menudo, always have, and I love it. Lengua tastes just like beef (because it is). But yeah, those plastic chairs...they don't like me and the feeling is mutual.

Life's a Beach! said...

Nancy, you would love our little Mexican joint. I got carryout tonight because everyone else was gone. Ann, not long now! We have to get together on Isla!

Allison said...

Fantastic post. Had the most AMAZING Italian food in a little restaurant on the beach in Tulum. : ) This post makes me want to go back now....

Jan said...

Oh Beck, what a great post!!! My mouth is watering for that yummy "dangerous" food, but I have to wait 6 weeks yet :-(.

Life's a Beach! said...

Allison, we need to give Tulum another try one of these trips! Jan, can't wait to get back in another week and a half! Thanks for the comments!