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A simple machine presses out tortillas that are placed on a grill in a restaurant.

Tortillas have been cooked on a dry griddle and left on the counter of a Tortilla shop.

Fillings – pork and tomato/ beef/bean/chicken.

Roadside taco vans always there when you are have a case of the hungries! We were told to always buy from a covered kitchen where the flies can not attack the food, seemed like good advice.

Night time roadside stall next to the central plaza seems clean enough to try out the local food. A large metal griddle cooks the beef strips and brown tortillas. Chopped onions, tomato and green chilies and a waterey avocado sauce are available to top the taco.

Fish is taken out the boats, cleaned and filleted and bought on the beach as there is no refrigeration.

Fresh catch of fish and prawns...

served with head, rice and salsa in a beach side restaurant.

A selection of fresh market prawns and sardines, but you have to wonder just how fresh when there is no sign of refrigeration.

Traditional foods of crisp fried grasshoppers available in the markets, Oaxaca ...

more traditional foods, perhaps you would like to try these crisp fried grubs...

...oh yes, I'd rather try some of these snacks, local dried salted seeds and nuts, not to mention small fish.

Selection of beans at a local market.

Selection of greens at a market including limes, spring onions, green chili, avocado, and the seed of the acacia tree.

Chili and more chili ...

and dried chili...

more dried chilies.

Market produce..

Looks good enough to eat but needs to be soaked in an iodine solution as the soil is contaminated in most parts of Mexico.

Chicken meat hanging in the market is always yellow, but believe it or not, is tasty cooked.

Here a lady chops up sugarcane and sells it in small pieces in a bag for a couple of cents.

Cacao beans and...

cacao powder...

add milk = chocolate.

 

... a selection of sauces to top the meat and tortilla – recipes to follow.

Again sorry this has taken me ages to put together and just Mexico is not yet complete, I will continue and add recipes here when I can do more research based on what we have seen and tasted in Mexico.

MEXICO

Thousands of years ago, the Indians of what is now Mexico, discovered how to grow corn. The women prepared it in a variety of ways and made flat cakes from the ground corn. The Maya also used corn to make an alcoholic drink called balche, which they sweetened with honey and spiced with bark. They also grew beans, squash, avocados, chili peppers, and sweet potatoes, all important ingredients for Mexican cook today.

Every market or central plaza had a stall selling corn cobs boiled or BBQ 'd or the kernels were sold in a cup with a tomato and chili sauce.

Today, corn is still the most important food of Mexicans, especially in rural areas. Mexican cooks generally soften the corn in hot limewater (water with slaked lime, used to counteract the acid), boil it, and then grind it into meal.

The main corn-meal food is the tortilla, this thin flat bread can be shaped by hand or a simple machine that flattens a ball of dough. The corner Tortilla shop is everywhere much like our bakeries and locals buy piles of tortillas choosing from corn or wheat flour. We could not resist the smell drifting out of a Tortilla shop in a small village in the Northern highlands and a jolly lady peered around huge mounds of freshly baked Tortillas offering us each a sample. Restaurants make their own and they are cooked on an ungreased griddle fresh with each order. It is served with every meal and it can be eaten plain, rolled up and dipped into soup or stew. We had a traditional Mexican breakfast of a sort of thin stew or thick soup of beef and vegetables served with a basket of Tortillas. A good energy boost for a morning of riding!


Freshly cooked tortillas, flat or folded for a Taco at a road side stall. Smelt too good to worry about flies with a choice of chicken, pork, beef or bean filling and a salsa of tomato, onion and chili to top the taco.

Tortillas can also be used to make the taco, a folded tortilla filled with chopped meat, chicken, or cheese, and then fried; the enchilada, a rolled-up tortilla with a similar filling and covered with a hot sauce; the quesadillas. a tortilla usually filled with cheese and fried; or the tostada, a tortilla fried in deep fat until it becomes crisp, and served flat with beans, cheese, lettuce, meat, and onions on top. Other popular foods made with corn include atole, a thick, soupy corn-meal dish and tamales, corn meal steamed in corn husks or banana leaves, and usually mixed with pork or chicken.

We visited many markets where people display their produce in make-shift stalls, or spread the produce on the ground. Rubbish is strewn everywhere, hungry dogs lie gazing at the large chunks meat hanging on hooks in the sun, while frantic waving of a cloth is supposed to keep the flies off the flesh. We understand that the people spend at least one day each week at the marketplace chatting with friends and doing business. Farmers often trade their goods instead of selling them, and much bargaining takes place. As we pass roadside stalls through different areas each might specialise in it's own unique produce, this would depend on the land, climate and cultural influences. Driving along the coast one day we went through a couple of villages where stalls sold brightly coloured coconut sweets and the next village sold dried prawns we had seen drying in the sun.

Indian Cultural influences are particularly noticeable in the southern highlands, around Oaxaca and San Cristobal. Here the kitchen is the centre of family life and may be simply a lean-to built of poles and cornstalks placed against an outside wall or the family may build a cooking fire on the floor of a room. The smoke from the fire curls out through the door and windows and blackens the walls.

In a village near San Cristobal we were able to sample some freshly made tortillas, browned over an open fire on the floor of the family kitchen

I filled the tortilla with the local fresh white cheese, fried beans and avocado.

Frijoles (beans) are another important food source. They are boiled, mashed, and then fried and refried in lard. Poorer Mexicans may eat frijoles every day, often using a folded tortilla to spoon up the beans, eating very little meat as they just cannot afford it. They may vary their basic diet of corn and beans with fruit, honey, onions, tomatoes, squash, or sweet potatoes. Rice is also boiled and then fried. Favourite fruits include avocados, bananas, mangoes, oranges, and papayas.

In the central dry plains the fruit and leaves of the prickly pear, or cactus, are boiled, fried, or stewed and quite yummy if you can get hold of it.

Notice the prickly pear in the bucket in the front of this stall.

On the other hand wealthier Mexicans have a more balanced diet with plenty of meat. After seeing far too much handling of the meat both in the local markets and on the road side we have become more or less vegetarian, though we were still determined to frequent local restaurants and sample as much of the local tucker (Australian: food) as we could.

In a hot market place this meat might hang all day until sold...

...or sold under hot lights...

Thin slices are cooked well done until blackened!

Meat hanging along side the road and ...

... roadside butcher.

We were told that most Mexicans like their foods highly seasoned with hot chili pepper or other strong peppers but we found that most of the food was served rather bland for our taste buds. The meals were always accompanied though by a home made chili sauce or salsa so we just added this to spice up each meal.

The cacao tree also originated in southern Mexico and we of course had to sample the chocolate in Oaxaca. The word chocolate comes from chocolatl, a word Spanish conquerors may have created by combining the Maya word chocol, which means hot, with the Aztec word atl, which means water. Oaxaca is also famous for their moles, a sauce made of chocolate, chili, oil, sesame seed, cinnamon and other spices. It is placed over meat, tacos and enchiladas. We tasted it, it sounds good but we are not too sure, mind over matter, as again we saw far too much of the stuff in ugly lumps in the huge markets of Oaxaca.

The large black mounds close to me are the famous moles next to the dried chilies.

Steak served with a chocolate mole and beans.

Fruit juices, often freshly squeezed in roadside stalls.

Popular beverages in Mexico include water flavoured with a variety of fruit juices, you should avoid the water if it is not bottled. Also a cinnamon-flavored hot chocolate drink is cooked with water and beaten into a foam. Mexicans often drink the juice of the Maguey plant. They use it to make pulque, a fermented drink and tequila, a distilled liquor. We did not get to try Chica, a strong drink made from fermented sweetened corn or Tepache a drink made from pulque, pineapple and cloves. The local beer is good, Corona, and wine not so good, the best wines are from the northern Baja area.

Local sweet treats and ...

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