Mexico City has been full of surprises this summer, especially in the culinary area. Mexico is a huge country with a very strong regional food culture and I’m in no way claiming that the below items aren’t part of mexican food in a broad sense. My friend from Sonora (right below Arizona) often doesn’t recognize menu items when we go out here.
Here are some of the biggest surprises that are totally/mostly absent here:
They have potato chips, which are very popular doused with hot sauce, but I have never seen a tortilla chip. Chips and salsa start no meals. One time my landlord bought fried whole tortillas which she broke into pieces to eat with black beans. That’s the closest I’ve seen.
In the words of my mexican friend, “It has literally been years since I’ve had a margarita.” They acknowledge they’re good for the beach but they’re rarely seen outside of restaurant menus. Beer and mezcal are drinks of choice.
3) Jack Cheese/melted cheese in general
Monterey Jack and Pepper jack are the “mexican cheeses” we discuss in the US. Here it’s about crumbled queso fresco on top. Melted cheese is only on top of “suiza” style dishes. Other popular cheeses are panela, a firm cheese called Oaxaca cheese in the US, that can be grilled in blocks and queso manchego which bears little resemblance to the spanish version.
*Gasp* I make this at home all the time here (or more accurately Tomás does) but I don’t think I’ve had it at a restaurant. There’s tons of avocado in salads and sandwiches and in my case, eaten solo, but it’s not a common condiment. US mexican restaurants seem obligated to offer at least 4 variations on the dish. That would be 100 types of salsa.
5) Rice and beans
We’re not in Nicaragua. This combo doesn’t seem to be a thing.
Again, no chips. An equivalent would be dorilocos or tostilocos, a small bag of chips sliced open and topped with cheese, jalapeños and hot sauces. They sell this in the subway and I plan to never try it.
Burritos, as all mexicans will acknowledge, are a food of the north of Mexico, where they have flour tortillas and so much meat.
We’re nowhere near the ocean. There are a few places dedicated to selling mariscos (shrimp and clams and stuff) but it’s not a common thing to eat outside of a dedicated restaurant. Fish tacos belong to Baja.
9) Desserts like flan or tres leches
Desserts are mostly pan dulce (sweet breads), fruit based things (paletas or nieves) or things like ice cream, which is popular everywhere for a reason.
Has the food eaten in a destination every surprised you in a big way? Let me know!