Having just spent three months travelling around Mexico, I often get asked what I miss most about the country. Besides not having a Vitamin D deficiency, I really, really miss the food. It’s so much more than tacos (although you can’t really skip those if you’re in Mexico for any length of time) – so here’s my list of Mexican food you NEED TO TRY, and where’s best to get it.
#1 – Mole
Mole… sometimes I wake up thinking about it. Mole is basically chicken and tomato rice marinated in a very rich, deep, dark sauce containing chocolate and a blend of herbs. It tastes a LOT nicer than it sounds – in no universe would you think chocolate and tomato would go together, but they make it work. Don’t forget this is where chocolate was invented, yo. It’s very difficult to resist and easy to eat much of – but try, as the tummyache you get from eating too much isn’t worth it. Actually I lie, it’s definitely worth it.
You can find the best mole in Puebla, in central Mexico. They have an incredible foodie culture in general which shouldn’t be missed out on, including stuffed chiles (chiles en nogada), but mole is the jewel in their crown.
#2 – Pozole
It rhymes with mole, right? Non-Spanish speakers, you’ve got this. Pozole is basically a build-your-own broth – you can choose from either red, white or green (although I prefer red) depending on how spicy you like it and add in… basically, whatever you want. All pozole starts as a meaty broth– again, you can usually choose from chicken, beef or pork – while you get a tray with onion, dry tortillas, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, spices… anything, really. What looks like a light soup eventually becomes a monster meal and it is GOOD.
You can get pozole anywhere really, and it’s usually fairly cheap.
#3 – Tamales
Tamales are stodgy, doughy, delicious comfort food. Perfect for when you’re feeling sad, hungover (trust me on this one) or just in need of carbs, tamales are made of dough and other ingredients wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf, depending on whereabouts you are.
There are loads of different fillings for tamales – chicken, pork, prawns, beef, cheese, vegetarian, even sweet fillings… you name it, it’s in there. They do tend to be very heavy so if you’re not that peckish, I’d go for a taco instead. All that corn dough is yummy, but not to be taken lightly.
The best tamales are to be found in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, and were the best hangover cure I found in the entire country.
#4 – Pambazos
Giant, orange rolls stuffed with cheese, lettuce, potatoes and cream – convinced yet? Made with tough, dry bread that’s normally used for sandwiches, the roll is soaked in a chilli marinade to make it softer and extra delicious. These are often so enormous you can’t hold them with one hand (which in my opinion is what all sandwiches should be) and INCREDIBLY TASTY. The ultimate lunch food, you can find these all around Mexico – but I ate my favourite from a market stall in Mexico City.
#5 – Tacos
Ok so tacos were an obvious choice, but hear me out? There are so many different kinds that you couldn’t possibly hope to try them all. They’re the quintessential Mexican street food because they’re so easy to make and eat, so cheap and so delicious. If you haven’t tried at least one taco before you leave, did you ever really go to Mexico?
Mexican food has an incredible diversity and richness which would be impossible to list here – so you’ll just have to go and see for yourself. A word of warning: just be careful with the salsas, because when they say hot, they mean HOT. I’m talking way more than Nandos here.
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