Follow my tips to find out all you need to know about tortillas and tacos in Mexico City, what to do when your chilli-eating bravado backfires, as well as how to avoid standing out as a sauce-stained gringo/a!
Corn masa and tortillas
- The distinctive aroma of corn dough, or masa is inescapable in Mexico City, especially since it is eaten in at least one of its forms during every meal: tacos, tlacoyos, huaraches, quesadillas, chilaquiles, sopes… the list is endless, as is the variety of fillings/toppings available. Make sure to try as many of them as you can during your stay in Mexico City rather than limiting yourself to just tacos.
- Buy your tortillas in a tortillería rather than the supermarket. There really is no comparison.
- If your prefer tortillas made with wheat flour, look for “tortillas de harina”.
Tacos and taco-eating etiquette
- For an extensive guide to all-things-taco, see this great guide: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/07/the-serious-eats-guide-to-taco-styles.html
- The limes are there for you to squeeze over your tacos, not stick in your beer bottle; although it’s almost expected that we gringos will do that!
- Even if you LOVE hot sauce, take my advice, test the sauces before piling them on to your taco!
- So you didn’t take the above advice and now your mouth in on fire? Grab the salt that is on the table, and lick it off your wet wrist, swirling it around your mouth and tongue until the burning sensation subsides. Order yourself a cool agua fresca, sip on it to relieve your swollen, pulsating tongue and relax, until tomorrow, when your tummy takes on the consequences.
- The walk of shame from the taquería with your sauce-stained forefront can be avoided by bringing your head down towards your plate and holding your taco perpendicular to your mouth. Taught that you never bow your head down to your plate growing up? Mexico doesn’t follow boring rules that get in the way of enjoying every last morsel.
- If you are all corned out, order a gringa. Created many years ago by El Fogoncito in response to the penchant shown by foreigners, it consists of a taco pastor filling, served on a wheat tortilla and topped with cheese.
- You might be taken aback by how quickly the waiter sweeps away your plate as soon as you lift the last bite. I think it is half because they want you to order more before your brain registers that your tummy is full, and half because if not, there’s probably other people waiting to take your seat. Either way, don’t feel you have to leave immediately upon finding yourself sitting at a completely empty table.
Avoiding Montezuma’s revenge
- Mexico City has the best street food I have ever tasted and by eating only at those stands that are constantly buzzing with people, you are more likely to avoid the dreaded Montezuma’s revenge.
- Make sure to pack some anti-diarrhoeal medicines just in case. If Montezuma’s revenge does strike, keep toilet roll in your bag when you are out and about. Many public toilets have a charge of up to $5 MXN to use their facilities and your pesos get you just a few squares of toilet paper.
- Many people drink the tap water in Mexico City but everyone’s tummy is different so I suggest you only drink bottled water during your stay.
- Don’t panic if you forget to pack medication, you are never far from a pharmacy in Mexico City. Some even offer a delivery service!