Eating Off the Cart | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Eating Off the Cart

Seems like anyone can set up a stand to sell street food. No licenses. No health inspectors. No signage. Sometimes, hardly any food.

SF01

Just put a table in your doorway with some food on it and watch the pesos come rolling in. This place is selling gelatina (jello) and carrot juice. Patti the plumber recalls, as a little girl, being sent out in the street to sell gelatinas. I doubt there's $20 pesos' worth of food on offer here—being sold from a house with a U. S. dollar value in the mid-six figures. Go figure.

SF02

This next place is more elaborate than the previous one. There's more food on display and there's signs to attract and guide customers. A young man ponders his selection...

SF03

... which includes fresh-squeezed orange or grapefruit juice ($15 pesos—$1.36 U. S.) or carrot or beet juice $13 pesos—$1.16 U. S.)

SF04

Looks like he went for the OJ. Note the amount you get—about a quart! The proprietor is giving me the evil eye as I take the photo. Stupid gringos with their cameras.

SF05

I like this tamale vendor. The green chicken ones are very spicy. (The tamales are green, not the chicken.) Rounding out his corn-based product offering, he's selling atole, a soupy warm drink made from masa—dried corn flour. It's an acquired taste, and surprisingly popular. Surprisingly.

SF06

This stand sells carnitas sandwiches. The torpedo-shaped rolls are called bolillos. I like the happy pig sitting in the pot on the fire. That kind of promotion wouldn't work up north.

SF07

This woman is selling gordos—balls of masa smooshed around a filling such as chicken or nopales (cactus leaves), the whole assemblage then grilled on the kluge in the foreground. Actually, her gas-fired rig is fairly advanced. Another vender squats under a bridge and cooks her gordos on a hot metal plate over a charcoal fire.

SF08

Here's some guys at an open-air market boiling chunks of pig in lard—carnitas. You can just make out the handle of a wire skimmer in the galvanized pail at the bottom right. There's something in the basket. Better not ask what.

SF09

This señorita is making tortillas by hand—the best kind.

SF10

This tamale stand is set up next to a bus stop. Good location. Lots of vendors set up next to bus stops.

SF11

Those are agave leaves hanging out of the pot. Which means they're cooking barbacoa. A layer of leaves from the plant ordinarily used to make tequila lines the bottom of the pot. Chunks of old, tired sheep are placed on top. It's boiled for about a day. Pretty strong flavor, if you ask me.

SF12

Assorted foods are sold here in front of a high school. I think the wheelbarrow underscores the ephemeral sense of this stand.

SF13

The roach coach. This truck pulls up to construction sites—here in front of my friend Bob's house. He says that this vendor specializes in chicken neck tacos. He's just joking. I think.
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