A Travellerspoint blog

May 2015

Hola from Mexico City (Part 1)

We made it!

View Central & South America on chellebelle's travel map.

So we arrived in Mexico City at 4am, the flight was full and we were in the last row...it definitely had it's perks of extra room to recline.
We breezed through security and customs and made our way to get a taxi to our hostel. We got in the cab and instantly asked Ingles? and got the dread reply "No". Haha! We instantly learnt that our lack of Spanish is definitely going to cause some dilemmas. The guy didn't know where our hostel was, I was frazzled to say the least due to my lack of sleep on the plane. My stress levels got worse when the cab stopped and the driver was under the hood for five minutes. (yep I had heard all of the dodgy stories). But thankfully we were off again after about 5mins.
The first thing that instantly struck us was that police are everywhere...and they are around 24/7! They seem quite friendly and to be honest they don't seem to want to make trouble in our area. They even nicely told our taxi driver how to get to our hostel with the help of HereMaps. We finally arrived at our hostel which is a large cute house with massive murals everywhere! It was down a quiet stress close enough to get to most of the major tourist areas.


I had decided to book a food tour to explore some of the historical area and eat on our first day. To be honest I figured we couldn't go to sleep if we were eating and interacting with other people all day.


On our walk there we were blown away...The traffic in this place is like Auckland on steroids. There are cars everywhere! We also saw pretty fast that a red light means slow down ( it's standard that about 10 cars going through after a traffic light changes red).


We started off our food journey with Turkey Torta's - basically a turkey sandwich with avocado, Papalo (a delicious herb), chipotle and turkey that was soft and juicy as it was cooked in slow cooked in fat. It was delicious!
Next we headed into the market; our first stop was for Mexican cheese - we tried numerous different types made from cow, goat and sheep milk. Some were from pasteurised and some from un-pasteurised milk. The un-pasterised variety to be honest tasted a little dirty to me. Maybe it was just the type of cheese it was.


My pick would have to have been the goats cheese with olive oil. It was delicious, smooth and flavoursome! We accompanied it with a red wine from Baja California, one of the few places that make wine in Mexico.


We continued exploring the market, trying numerous different delights along the way. It started with insects. I went into this rather cautiously as the idea of eating bugs didn't sound that appealing. They were surprisingly rather good and could definitely see how they were considered snack food in Oaxaca. They were crunchy, tangy and usually spicy from the chilli.
Our next stop in the market was to see the fruiteria to try a bundle of fruits we had never heard of before...We were pretty excited when we saw feijoas on display...Both of us were pretty sad we missed the feijoa season in NZ this year.


Our tasting started off with the red pitaya fruit from a cactus. The flesh was gritty from all of the seeds and I was covered with bright red juices like you would from a beetroot. Next we tried granadilla, a fruit that was a version of passionfruit, just like passionfruit it was delicious! The next fruit was called Zapote Negro and if I am being honest it looked rotten! The flesh was a dark brown-black and it had a texture that was soft and mousse like, it reminded us both of a sweetened pumpkin/kumara filling. It was definitely a weird thing to eat and not my favourite. Lastly we tried what they entitled the king of all fruits, Mamey, a large fruit that a beautiful red inside. The fruit tasted like melon and had a melon like texture, again not my favourite. While walking through the market we saw mangos EVERYWHERE and they are crazily cheap (10MXP/kg). It is definitely going to be a great standby for whenever hunger strikes.


We continued on through the market, stopping to look at the dried chilis and heading through the meat and seafood sections. I have to say, neither section smelt and there were minimal flies...considering the lack of refrigeration in the area, I was hugely surprised about this. The selection was really interesting with different cuts and fish that I had never seen before.


After the heat of the market it was time to cool off at a pulqueria. Pulque is a drink that has a mild alcohol content and is made with the sap of the Maguey agar plant. Maguey was a prized plant back in Pre-Hispanic times and the drink has been made for over 1000 years. The history of the drink is extremely interesting and it is believed that the drink was only drunk by priests and during sacrifices in pre-hispanic times. It has recently had a resurgence with young people and tourists which is great that a traditional drink can still be made. Pulque can only be drunk in a pulqueria as it is not able to be stored without going off. The original (blanca) drink has a sour and slightly yeasty flavour, it was slightly thicker than a normal beverage. The drink tends to be flavoured a lot these days and we tried all of the flavours of the day...celery, spearmint, oat, boysenberry, passionfruit, pine-nut, guava. They were all amazingly sweet in comparison to the original blanca version. The bar was overflowing with people (considering it was only 1pm at this point it was fairly impressive to see that many people in a place for something that is basically a soft-drink!).


We were off again, this time to eat piping hot, straight from the press tortillas . The machines was pretty impressive and one kilogram of tortillas was 11MXP (NZD$1). A tortilla with salt is a simple yet delicious snack!


Our next stop was to see a street vendor for gorditas made from blue corn. We had ours stuffed with refried beans and then covered with salsa, cheese and cilantro. Heavenly good! At this point we were definitely concerned how many more dishes we had left on our tour, thankfully it wasn't many! We headed off to try a tortilla dipped in mole sauce.


The mole we tried was not a particular traditional type from Puebla or Oaxaca but it was still rather spectacular. It was a melody of flavours which combined to give a spectacular taste. You would catch different notes with every spoonful not one stood one and over-powered the other, this is impressive in itself.

Our last stop was a to try two different types of tacos.


The first, a steak fried taco (flautas) covered in sour-cream and cabbage. It was crunchy, and the sour-cream amazingly good! The last type was a combination of steak and chorizo with potatoes. The taqueria was full of people getting there taco fix. I have to admit for both tacos it was the salsas the made them. Without them, it would have been bland and rather plain.

Overall, I would have to say the food tour was an easy way to spend the day, our guide was lovely, had perfect english and was very friendly. Was I amazed but the food? Unfortunately not. I think the key thing for me was that the food seemed generic and I didn't really try anything that I hadn't heard of before and sadly I didn't get the exciting WOW I had in Istanbul.


Our next day we awoke at 5am! (Yep we are struggling to deal with the six hour time difference with the UK). We decided we were off to Teotihuacan to explore and climb the pyramids for the day. We made our way through the metro and to the bus station. After being patted down and our bags scanned twice we were on the bus. At our first stop the company went through with their video camera taking images of everyones face. Apparently the bus about 6 years ago got raided on the way so it is pretty standard for this to happen. We arrived to minimal people around and were off to explore before the influx from the tour buses occured in a few hours.


The Teotihuacan area was a massive and the view of the pyramids, even from a distance was pretty magical. We made our way down the Avenue of the Dead, climbing on smaller temples along the way. After about 30mins of walking we made it to the Temple of the Sun. Looking at this temple from below is daunting and the thought of climbing it was definitely a little overwhelming.


We made our way up to the top. The steps were narrow and step so it definitely took some co-ordination and balance to make your way up and down if you couldn't get to the rail they had put in.


The panoramic from the top of the pyramid was beautiful. The full extent of the Teotihuacan empire could be seen. Lewis had decided that he wanted to put a slinky down the stairs of the pyramid. Sadly we only got to 10 before it would stop (considering there are around 250 stairs this wasn't a major success). Mr Slinky would fall over due to the stairs being too steep no matter how small the pyramid was. It was a sad defeat but we will definitely get Mr Slinky down one of the ruins along the way.


We made our way back down an headed to the other major temple of Teotihuacan, the Temple of the Moon. This pyramid stands at the end of the Avenue of the Dead. Unfortunately you can only climb half way up but the view down over the street is still pretty spectacular! We sat and stared in the scorching heat for a while just enjoying the view and all of the vendors hawking on the streets.


We headed home after a massive morning exploring. The grumbling of our stomachs informed us lunch was in order when we arrived back. It was off to Mercado Roma, a market very similar to those we have seen in Barcelona, Madrid and even Seville of small gourmet restaurants. It was definitely a trendy area but the prices were ok and we thought it would be a great place to try out some more of our very poor Spanish.


Lewis choose a Huarache covered in beens, cheese, lettuce, nopal (cactus) and beef. It was MASSIVE and so delicious! I opted for the delicacy huitlacoche (corn fungus) in a quesadilla. The quesadilla was delicious with stringy Oaxaca cheese and lettuce as well as the fungi. Huitlacoche tasted like a tangy mushroom and was amazing with the cheese and salsa. I was impressed!
We headed home to our hostel. Exhausted after a massive day and the 5am wake up. Tomorrow was Lewis birthday and I had a full day planned. :)

Posted by chellebelle 16:52 Archived in Mexico Tagged food mexico city hostel corn pyramids teotihuacan df mercado huitlacoche Comments (2)

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