Lunch at the Mercado | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Lunch at the Mercado

I read that 250 people got sick in an Olive Garden in Indianapolis yesterday. Big woop. I get sick every time I eat in an Olive Garden.

OK. That's a cheap shot.

But hey. What's going on up north? We got bad green onions at Taco Bell. We got bad spinach in California. I checked the FDA web site: I counted 29 food recalls in the last 60 days!

There's a clear lesson to be learned from this: When traveling in the U. S., Don't Eat the Food! I fully expect to see a Mexican government official travel advisory anytime now.

Thank God we residents of Mexico don't have to worry about any of that stuff. The other day, in the Mercado Libertad of Guadalajara, I sat down at a lunch counter and ordered a huarache al pastor.

There's always a problem translating food names. I mean, a hot dog has nothing to do with puppies and spotted dick isn't a disease. Huarache al pastor translates as "shepherd's sandal." Of course, it's not. Wouldn't sell if it was.

Culinarily speaking, a huarache is a variant of a tostada or a taco, but thicker like a gordo, and oval shaped, vaguely like a sandal. Flattened cornmeal dough is cooked on a griddle and when done, topped with meat and vegetables.

LU02

Huarache al Pastor

Looks kind of like a tostada, doesn't it?

Meat, usually cerdo (pork), is called al pastor when slices are marinated in spices and piled onto a vertical spit for cooking. As the meat cooks, the outer layers of the pile are sliced off. Maybe two ounces of this was sprinkled onto my huarache and topped with lettuce, onions and cilantro. I squeezed on a little lime juice and added some nopales (prickly pear cactus leaves) as garnish. It was delicious.

LU01

Cerdo al Pastor

Eating in the Mercado is violating every rule given to tourists: street food, raw, unpeeled vegetables, you name it. But I doubt that it's any riskier eating in Mexico than up north. Just read the papers.

Here at least, the food is fresher, healthier and tastier than, say, the dull corporate excretions of the Olive Garden or Taco Bell. 250 people sick! Gimme a break. That's what factory farming and institutional cooking does to you.

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