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are tamales car food in Mexico City?


YoChefGregg
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On Christmas day, my wife, Sudanese foster son and I will be flying into Mexico City, renting a van, and driving to Morelia.

Is it safe to eat tamales while driving?

Is it safe for a gringo from Grand Rapids to drive in Mexico City?

We will have my daughter and Mexican citizen son in law with us. They'll take a bus to Mexico City and meet us.

We've heard all sort of horror stories about driving in, "The City".

What do you think.

Can you help a fellow egulleteer out?

Muchas Gracias,

-------------------------

Water Boils Roughly

Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye

-------------------------

Gregg Robinson

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I scribbled this for the Texas forum a long time ago: it is a how-to guide for eating tamales in the car ... but while driving in Texas. For Mexico, you'll have to make the necessary adjustments in situ.

As for driving in Mexico City ... I will defer to Shelora and Caroline on that one. It is the one place in Mexico where I have not put shoeleather to the pedal. The traffic is thick and aggressive. The decision is, really, a personal one. Better that you are w/someone who is relatively familiar with the DF. Preferably only in daylight hours, and stick to main streets ... it's the vehicular rubbernecking in strange and quaint little neighborhoods that can get you into situations you'd rather avoid. This does not, however, mean that the major thoroughfares are ok. When I returned from Puebla to Texas, I was advised not to take Hwy 150, a huge interstate that would shoot me way up north in no time; instead, I took a lovely, b ut slow route through southern Hidalgo, Queretaro, and thence north through SLP. The reason I havce been given is that in my car, with "placas gringas" (Texas/US license plates) I would be a sitting duck for any police interested in a, um, gratuity. So, ask around.

HOW TO DRIVE AND EAT A TAMAL AT THE SAME TIME:

a) get A LOT of napkins at the tamaleria as you're leaving. Don't be shy about the knowing looks you'll be getting - they KNOW what you're doing with all those napkins. They do the same thing.

b) have newspaper - or buy one (the Dallas Morning Snooze is, in my book, printed just for this purpose). Put it on the seat next to you. Place bag of tamales on newspaper, put napkins between seat back and tamal bag.

c) start car, engage gears, stream into traffic.

Personally I find freeway traffic easier to deal with than neighborhood or neighborhood collector streets - too many other people in their cars eating tamales on the sly. Their hands get greasy and slip on the shift knob or steering wheel, creating awkward turns and speed changes, plus in panic tamal falls and slides down leg to floor of car. Foot jerks to knock it away, but it gets on sole of shoe. Inattention to road due to attention to spicy grease slick on leg, leads to tailgaiting. In attempt to avoid rear ending the next car, foot applied briskly to brake pedal slides off due to stepped-in tamal residue.

Get the picture? It ain't pretty.

d) although you can pre-open tamal bag, this is really cheating. Once you have the car moving through traffic at a steady pace, and you have a sense of flow patterns, remove right hand from steering wheel and reach into tamal bag. Insert hand into neck of bag, and open fingers widely - thus opening the neck of the bag. Next, feel the foil package of tamales and make sure that they are running longways back of the seat to the dash rather than driver door to passenger door. Now, insert your index finger into the foil, and gently inchworm it down the length of the tamales. Make sure that the opening is long enough to permit lifting one out without having to tug at it.

e) ease a tamal out and put it on top of the bag. Push the tie off (if there is one). Flip the tail of the tamal open, grasping the body of the tamal with your thumb and 2nd through 4th finger. Use your index finger to run down the flap of the corn husk. Now grasp the opened flap with your index finger and your thumb, and with a smart wrist snap the tamal should roll out onto the bag, leaving you with the husk in your hand. Slip this back into the bag.

f) Calm yourself at this point. Think about what's waiting for you. Make sure that you are still feeling the flow of traffic.

g) pick up the tamal, in all its glistening nekkid glory and munch away. you will, undoubtedly be wearing something on top that is made of either cashmere or silk. You will have scarfed tamal No. 1 without incident, and you're now feeling pretty frisky. You go for no. 2.

h) almost to your destination, you realize that you've decimated half of your stash. You call yourself to task, readjust yourself in your seat, sitting up and forward a little more, but with greater resolve. At this point the smell is all about you, and the well-described after-tamal niceness in the mouth is more than you can bear. You go for another one, not really caring if you are wearing chinchilla, polyester, or sack cloth and ashes, when something hooks the corner of your left eye. You snap your head around, half tamal protruding from your mouth, bits of masa settled into your cleavage, and pork in red chile sauce polkadotting your blouse to find that the car that has pulled up next to you at the stop light has Johnny Depp in the passenger seat, and that he is staring right at whatever that funny thing you have in your mouth is. And the real problem is you're about to swallow what remains of the last one, and you haven't anything but greasy cornhusks to offer as an explanation.

Who says you can't eat tamales in the car?

Regards,

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I leave the tamales to Sharon.

Nobody gets out of bed until at least midday on Christmas Day. They've been up to 5 am feasting. You should shoot through the city with no problems, just like a Sunday only better. You might want to lock the car from the inside, most drivers do. Come out of the airport, turn left on the Periferico (takes a bit of weaving about but it should be signed), head south, and you should be out of the city in no time.

Which you will need to be because Merida is a long way,

Sounds like a great trip, have fun.

But where are you going to get these tamales?

Rachel

Rachel Caroline Laudan

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The other thing you have to know about driving in Mexico City is the "Hoy No Circula" law. Basically, it means that you are not allowed to drive your vehicle--even a rented vehicle--on certain days based on your license plate number.

Here is the key to when you can't drive.

If your license plate number ends in:

Mondays 5 and 6

Tuesdays 7 and 8

Wednesdays 3 and 4

Thursdays 1 and 2

Fridays 0 and 9 and cars with all letters in their plate

You can't drive the vehicle in either the DF or in the neighboring state of Mexico on those days. You'll need to plan your trip not only based on the day you leave Mexico City, but on the day you come back to Mexico City.

IMHO, it would be far simpler to take a plane directly to Morelia and have your relatives take a bus and meet you at the airport there. You can easily rent a van in Morelia.

And where are you going to get those tamales?

Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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Flor de Lis in the Condesa? Really good tamales. Of course, there are the street and market vendors. But Flor de Lis has napkins. Lots of napkins!

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I agree about taking the Periferico, but I thought they were going to Morelia instead of Mérida, which is the other direction. There are certainly plenty of flights to Mérida, and I can't imagine driving there from DF, although I have been driven from Mérida to Campeche by a friend. A friend also drove me from DF to Guanajuato and back, and that was a pleasant trip (and not so far from Morelia). Not so pleasant when she drove me to Oaxtepec and took Insurgentes Sus instead of the Periferico - on the day of the biggest bullfight in Mexico! Pedestrian were whizzing past us as we sat stuck on Insugentes.

I agree that traffic is light on holidays. I was unaware that the Hoy No Circula law was still in effect. For me, traffic was worse in DF in the 1980s and 90s than it is now. You do have to be aggressive, but if your car is rented, you will have local plates and won't be a target of the police, which are even worse in parts of Texas if you are not a local. Also, I think you are supposed to tip the gas station attendants, but I don't know how much, since my friends always did that.

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Buenos Tardes,

Thanks so much for everyone’s input.

We will be noshing on tamales that my daughter is bringing from home, her in-laws. I’ll request that they try and have the filling a little wetter than normal, since using a salsa will be very difficult while driving.

We would love to just fly into Morelia, but that adds about $500.00 per person to our cost. We got a fairly good price on the route that we choose.

Our choice of flights were Chicago to Morelia, or Grand Rapids to Mexico City. I’d rather fly from home and have to drive on the other end of the trip than to drive and park in Chicago. We will also be able to use the van for side trips.

Ok, which direction do I take when exiting the airport? :rolleyes:

-------------------------

Water Boils Roughly

Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye

-------------------------

Gregg Robinson

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Ultimately you want to head west, but unless someone knows another, better route, you will have to go either north or south to get to the correct road heading west. Unfortunately the airport is on the eastern edge of the DF and Morelia is almost due west and a bit south, which means you have to go either around or through the entire city to find the way. It's not easy.

I have known any number of people who have paid a taxi driver to lead them to the right roads going through/around/out of the DF. It doesn't cost very much, it will save you a lot of stress, hair-pulling, blue air and time, and everyone who's done it has said it was well worth it. Others have paid a policeman driving a patrol car to do the same thing.

The trip to Morelia should take about four hours, providing you don't get too lost on the way out of the DF.

If you don't have a map of the DF, Edomex (the state of Mexico), and the state of Michoacán, you'll want one. The Guia Roji Por Las Carreteras de México is the best map I've found; section by section, it covers the entire country.

Be sure you take the cuota (toll road) to Michoacán. If you take the free road, you will have to drive Mil Cumbres (1000 Peaks). It's gorgeous, but it will take you double or more the usual toll road time.

And, for what it's worth, that's a very expensive section of the toll road. Be prepared to pay nearly 1000 pesos for the ride, each way.

AND: pshew, I just re-read your original post. You know that you need to make legal arrangements to bring your Sudanese foster son into Mexico? If he's a minor, and if he's placed in your home through the court, you will be required to have court signatures on documents stating that he may travel out of and back into the USA with you. If he's an adult, he needs to bring the documents that any adult citizen of his country must have to come to Mexico. Don't leave home without the right papers or he (and you) will be turned back when you try to board your flight to Mexico.

And lordy, if you think Chicago traffic is bad, wait till you see Mexico City.

Edited by esperanza (log)

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

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As a new resident in the DF but an old hand at driving I would advise taking advantage of the lack of traffic that normally occurs on a Sunday and especially the double blessing of the Christmas holiday. Week day driving is something that I would avoid like the PLAGUE! The Guia Roji is avilable online through the www.reforma.com site. Or if you are a member of AAA get a triptik before you leave the states. The only guide book I use is the Lonely Planet guide which has details and maps that I have always found invaluable. Do keep the do not circulate guide with you, you do not want to be stopped for a traffic infraction. Do check the US govt. site for rules on travel with minor children.Yes you do tip the gas station attendants and keep a roll of paper towels and toilet paper in the car and you'll be considered a true native. Have a wonderful holiday!

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My understanding is that the the program "Hoy no circula" mainly affects old cars. New cars (2003-2005 models) can get a "hologram type 00" which exempt them from the program "Hoy no circula". Slightly older cars (1995 - 2002) can get a "hologram type 0" if their emissions are below certain thresholds and this also exempt them from the program "Hoy no circula".

Salomon

The other thing you have to know about driving in Mexico City is the "Hoy No Circula" law.  Basically, it means that you are not allowed to drive your vehicle--even a rented vehicle--on certain days based on your license plate number. 

Here is the key to when you can't drive.

If your license plate number ends in:

Mondays 5 and 6

Tuesdays 7 and 8

Wednesdays 3 and 4

Thursdays 1 and 2

Fridays 0 and 9 and cars with all letters in their plate

You can't drive the vehicle in either the DF or in the neighboring state of Mexico on those days.  You'll need to plan your trip not only based on the day you leave Mexico City, but on the day you come back to Mexico City.

IMHO, it would be far simpler to take a plane directly to Morelia and have your relatives take a bus and meet you at the airport there.  You can easily rent a van in Morelia.

And where are you going to get those tamales?

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Instead of flying to Morelia, you could go by bus. The Executive bus service is just outsanding, very comfortable and much more economical than flying (about $30 each way). The buses have only 24 seats which recline completely, A/C, 2 washrooms, free soft drinks, etc and the drivers can't speed past 95km/hr. You can take the ETN (tel 55-50-89-92-00) bus from the Observatorio bus terminal and be in Morelia in 4 hours. There are buses leaving about every 30 min. While you are in Morelia you probably won't need a car. Then you can rent one only for your side trips (or hire a taxi).

Salomon

Buenos Tardes,

Thanks so much for everyone’s input.

We will be noshing on tamales that my daughter is bringing from home, her in-laws.  I’ll request that they try and have the filling a little wetter than normal, since using a salsa will be very difficult while driving.

We would love to just fly into Morelia, but that adds about $500.00 per person to our cost.  We got a fairly good price on the route that we choose.

Our choice of flights were Chicago to Morelia, or Grand Rapids to Mexico City. I’d rather fly from home and have to drive on the other end of the trip than to drive and park in Chicago.  We will also be able to use the van for side trips.

Ok, which direction do I take when exiting the airport? :rolleyes:

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My daughter and son-in-law will be taking the bus from Morelia to Mexico City, take a taxi to the airport and we will drive back to Morelia together.

That will give us 3 or 4 more hours of visiting. :smile:

-------------------------

Water Boils Roughly

Cold Eggs Coagulating

Egg Salad On Rye

-------------------------

Gregg Robinson

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