When I first came to Mexico City, I knew I wanted to try tacos, fresh seafood, churros, to make sure hot sauce is awfully spicy for me and to prove that lime doesn’t go with beer.=) I had no idea there was so much more to know besides that. As I was visiting Mexico many times, I figured out that the most important ingredient in Mexican cuisine us not lime, avocado or cilantro – it’s corn. You may be surprised how many dishes you can make using it! So today I want to show you how much corn do Mexican people actually eat and introduce you to some bizarre food I tried last month.
– Corn tortillas
Personally I didn’t see the difference between corn and flour tortillas until I got to Mexico City. Corn tortillas are everywhere, and they are far from what I usually buy in the grocery store. First of all, the corn used for tortillas can be white, yellow or blue and tortillas are thicker since most of them are hand-made. People usually buy them in special shops, but when all the family gets together – women buy masa (corn dough) and use a special machine to make perfect tortillas. I even tried to make one: it took a lot of efforts, but was worth of it. Corn tortillas for Mexicans are like bread for Europeans.
While I was familiar with tortillas, tamales were a challenge for me: it looked weird for me, it sounded weird and at the beginning it tasted weird. So tamale is made of corn masa mix which is steamed in corn husk. It also has chilies or red/green spicy sauces and different fillings: from pork, chicken, three cheeses, beef, veggies to brown sugar, raisins or cajeta for sweet tamales. The only tamales that I actually like are the ones with cheese – I don’t eat all the masa in it and avoid spiciness simply because I am still getting used.=)
– Sweet corn flan
This dessert is made of sweet corn that is infused and then blended into the milk. It has a unique taste – it is a firm creamy custard with a caramel sauce, but also has a flavor of sweet corn. I absolutely recommend you to order it in Mexico and you will understand why it’s so popular!
More corn, please!=) I could never have thought that the use of corn can go that far! So what should you do before trying it? It is a Mexican corn-based hot beverage that is made of masa, water/milk, unrefined cane sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and sometimes chocolate or fruits. It is very sweet and has thick texture, so you may consider it as after meal drink.
A very simple, traditional Mexican dish that turned out to be very tasty and nutritious meal. I bet you tried grilled corn during the barbecue party and will agree that it is absolutely delicious. Well, Mexican people just took it to the next level serving frilled corn with condiments like mayonnaise, lime juice, cotija cheese and chili powder. I was sure it didn’t taste good until I tried it.=)) So esquites is the same thing, but the difference is that it is served in the bowl.
– Corn ice-cream
“No way!!” – I said when I saw it on the menu in a small Mexican restaurant, and I just had to order it. I could think about anything in the world, but corn ice cream? Oh please, that must be something artificial, it can’t be right. But it was so yummy, that I forgot that I was not a fan of ice cream: creamy-textured, sweet with a rich corn taste. And I was surprised of the way it was served! I have a plus one favorite dessert now.=)
I had enough corn for one trip, so this is what else I enjoyed:
– Tuna fruit
This is fruit of prickly pear cactus and is normally eaten raw or cooked. It was my first time trying it and I must assure you I have never tried anything like that before: the fruit itself is sweet and juicy, but contains a lot of seeds that are recommended to avoid. Tuna fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, mighty magnesium and increased fiber. It was worth of trying, but it took me so much time to finish it because of enormous amount of seeds in it.
– Café de olla
I am such a coffee addict, so I couldn’t resist trying it! Café de olla is a traditional way to prepare coffee in Mexico. The flavor is derived from cinnamon and piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) and always prepared in an earthen clay pot. It’s really yum!
Trying all the kinds of chocolate all over the world, I couldn’t miss this one. The difference is that Mexican chocolate is made with roasted and ground cacao nibs and sugar. Can you believe it? Just two ingredients – no artificial colors, fats or corn syrup! I also bought a box of almond sugar -free chocolate. It may not be as tasty as candies that are full of unhealthy supplements, but at least you know what you eat!
My Mexican food adventure came to its end and I was sad to leave Mexico City, but new adventures are coming! I am ready to discover and share it with you!=)