Today I’m thinking about the time I spent in Mexico this past April. The food was nothing short of delicious, but really what did I expect? I love Mexican cuisine — the spicy spices blended with the zest and freshness of lemons and limes. I attempted to seek out the most authentic food possible, yet even in places catered to tourists I felt I was being served the real thing. My experience surely expanded beyond tacos and nachos, even though I did eat tacos a few times. I’m brought back to a spicy fish taco dish I tried that was served with two kinds of salsa – one spicy and the other not. They were also served with a light beer, the perfect way to balance the spice and refresh in the Mexican sun.
That was on the gorgeous Isla Mujeres, which is very close to Cancun – so close that you can catch a glimpse of the legendary city across the Caribbean Sea.
At a hotel I stayed at (really it was a bed in an open-air cabin) I had some really great food. I remember meeting this baker who was beaming with joy while busily kneading the dough for the breakfast bread. They served lovely yeast rolls with jam and dulce de leche – a caramel-like paste that is quite popular all around Central and South America.
The hotel was near Tulum, a lovely tiny town in the Mayan Riviera. I met a friend there and we talked about the horrendous human rights abuses that have been happening in Mexico over the past decade. I felt sad for the lovely Mexicans I was meeting, sad that they have to live amidst such crime and violence. Can’t we all just get along?
At the restaurant, I finally tried mole – a sauce that’s been made in Mexico way far back – even by the Aztecs and Mayans likely. It’s typically made with cocoa, almonds, chillies, sesames and more and used to flavour meat, especially chicken. If you’ve never tried meat prepared with cocoa (the main ingredient in chocolate), I highly recommend it.
I do hope to travel to Mexico again someday – the dining alone there is just such a pleasure! Like the culture, the cuisine is full of zesty flavours and spice that wake up your mouth and spread through your body. Be careful though, if you see salsa on the table it’s most likely very hot and spicy and should be used oh-so sparingly!