Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's the water.........or the corn.

Why does food taste better in Mexico?

We purchase our tortillas from a place in a little Colonia between the house and town. There is usually a line or at least two or three people standing in line with their plastic buckets or simply a large towel.
Sometimes the lines is all the way out into the street.

You get 1 kilo of fresh warm tortillas for about 7 pesos. They use to be half that price when we first found the place years ago.


The big question is how, why does the product taste so much better than the ones made in the US?
I'm not necessarily talking about the ones you buy in large supermarkets that are packaged in plastic sip lock bags, where you usually get about 15 tortillas for 2 dollars.

Even the ones that you get in a stack in a local Mexican market, just don't have the flavor that they do in Michoacan.

For that fact the chicken, the bright yellow chicken that sits out in the room temperature in the market all day with flies landing on them, the ones that bring shock to visitors from the North, not wanting to believe that it is a better product with more robust flavor.

Is it just me or is it a fact that the unadulterated not fooled with food just have a better taste?

OK, I will agree that I sometimes bothers me to see the stuff just sit out in the ambient temperature. Not as much as it did when I first saw it years ago.
But on the other hand I have never gotten sick on any of it.

I have with food purchased in a nice shiny yellow plastic tray tightly bound with clear plastic, poised on a bed of ice in the refrigerated cooler in a big supermarket in the North though. And got sick on that!

My grandmother who grew up in Russia then fled to China during the revolution always had stuff out on the counter for hours......
My wife keeps stuff out all the time also.......

There is something to be said for children eating dirt, playing outside picking up stuff and putting stuff in their mouths while they are growing up. The get some immunity to all kinds of stuff.
There is an epidemic of children in the US that has skyrocketed in the last 25 years of allergies to stuff. That transpired about the same time as "Concerned Mommies" started hovering around mandating little Heather or Jason to be careful and sterile and not touch anything.

I have been prone to less bugs and stuff since eating all kinds of food from street vendors, sidewalk restaurants and food from little old Indian ladies as they walk by the plaza.

I think it is healthier food than that stuff with lines and lines of additives that are listed on food products made by large factories.

And there's nothing wrong with leaving your eggs out either.
In the US the product can be as old as 2 months old. I can usually see the difference immediately when one egg gets broken and the white part flows out into the whole pan.

Just don't leave them out in the sun.
You do get them fresh don't you?


Michael Dickson said...

I´ve never noticed that food tastes better here, but perhaps I´m just not paying attention.

They aren´t that big on refrigeration, true, and I´ve never died yet. But I don´t fool with the chicken sold out of the glass-sided box on the sidewalk. I don´t go that far. I´m cautious with raw chicken.

My tummy doesn´t give me more trouble here than it did above the border.

ac said...

Hi Ken,
Some folks believe that food tastes better in Mexico because of 'el sabor del mano' that 'hand made' foods taste better.
There might be some truth in this.
As for chicken, only very few hens/eggs in the US are contaminated with salmonella, something like 1:20,000.
Also, the feed they get in The Republic is probably less adulterated, grain, flowers, [the odd scorpion] etc. to add stuff to the feed costs money.
During our trips to Patzcuaro, we have eaten food from street vendors, fondas etc. Nary a burp. [except for once pigging out on too many pickled hot peppers on my carnitas, but that was my fault.]
Wow! And I thought I was the only one who suspects that the vast numbers of children in the US with bizarre food allergies are the result of those hyper protective moms who sanitize everything, thus leaving junior with no natural resistance to the pathogens we all come into contact with daily.
As for leaving the eggs in the sun? You're right. Never a good idea.
keep on posting!

ken kushnir said...

Well there are somethings Michael, that I do require that it come out of a refrigerated container and I will not buy stuff from a vendor that looks like they have had the same dead bird there for days. I would also hesitate on the glass sided box chicken merchant since I have seen them cough on their domain. In fact the only time in the last 10+ years that I got sick was from shrimp that I purchased at Aurrera in Morelia.....
And that came off of the ice, go figure.

And AC...
The beauty of food in Mexico is that a lot of it is several steps removed from "corporate chemistry" One of the changes that I have done in my life the last year is to actually read what the labels say and what I now put into my body!

When you are here you tend to shop more often and get fresher stuff than if you go to large supermarkets that buy and distribute from central distribution which adds days and many hands and pathogens to the trip. We are in the process of getting a dozen chickens and a few goats so it will be no more store bough eggs in awhile. Right now I am spoiled. My neighbor has 10 birds and keep us in fresh eggs. Once you have had fresh ones, any other taste different.

ac said...

I can't wait to get there!

Michael Warshauer said...

Some food tastes better here: carnitas, barbacoa, birria, atole de grano, some but not all soups; tamales and corundas. Shrimp and related dishes at La Güera.

Other things taste better NOB: BBQ, hamburgers, Non-chain pizzas; CFS, steak, baked potatoes; American, IHOP style breakfasts, etc.

Most machine made tortillas here taste to me like cardboard. They must be among the most totally boring staple foods ever developed.

On the other mano, hand made tortillas, especially made from masa of dried, soaked corn, NOT from Maseca, are pretty good.

The best handmade tortillas we've had were the ones made from colored corn varieties, at the Comida Regional weekends only restaurant in Tzuru. The next best ones are the big ones at Birrería Don Prisci's at the Pátzcuaro mercado.

Occasionally I also like the machine made tortillas de harina from Tortillería Yunuen, on Calle Mendoza, in Pátzcuaro.

(Some foodies NOB struggle to make their own tortillas. I would never do that here. What a waste of time.)