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docsconz

A Culinary Trip to Mexico

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docsconz   

I enjoy Mexican food when I get the chance to eat it. Unfortunately because of where I live I don’t get that chance very often – at least not with truly excellent Mexican food. A couple of years ago I discovered that The Culinary Institute of America operates a travel program entitled, "The Worlds of Flavor Travel Program" and amongst their offerings was a program to Mexico with Rick Bayless of Topolobampo and Frontera Grill in Chicago and Marilyn Tausend, the Mexican food writer from Seattle. The trip at that time was destined for Oaxaca. Unfortunately the timing then did not work out for my wife and myself, but I vowed to keep an eye on it. Instead we took a trip to Spain with the World of Flavors Program. That trip was fantastic and only whet my appetite for more. This year we were going to go to Mexico with the CIA come hell or high water.

I will say that Michael Coon and the Worlds of Flavor program do things right. They pick great places with fascinating and delicious culinary traditions and staff it with some of the best people in the business. This trip was no exception. In addition to Michael Coon, the Program director who is responsible for putting together these trips for the CIA with the financial assistance of Viking Range Corp., the staff consisted of Marilyn Tausend and Ana Elena Martinez who were instrumental in organizing many of the details, Rick Bayless and Richard James from Frontera and Ricardo Munoz Zurita from Mexico City’s Azul y Oro Café. Bayless was the principle Instructor and Tour Leader. Each of these people are very, very interesting and accomplished in their own right. Ricardo Munoz has a recent eGullet topic devoted to his legendary but difficult to find books on Mexican cuisine. Martinez , a member of the IACP is a caterer, candy expert and cooking instructor in Puebla who has recently opened her own candy and confectionary shop there. Tausend, a noted author on Mexican Cuisine, is the current co-chair of the upcoming IACP 2006 Convention in Seattle, WA. James is the managing Sous Chef at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. Bayless proved to be particularly fascinating. He comes from four generations of restaurateurs in Oklahoma, where his family has run barbecue restaurants for years. Despite that, Rick originally leaned towards a career in academics and procured degrees in Spanish Language and advanced degrees in Anthropology and Linguistics. He applied those along with his food background and love of Mexico and all things Mexican into what is likely the finest Mexican Restaurant in the United States. He proved uniquely suited to lead this as well as other culinary trips to Mexico.

I will recount my experiences with the program along with photos as I can post them. I will attempt to do so in chronologic order. I will be happy to attempt to answer any questions people may have and would welcome input from other members of the group should they be following this and wish to post about their experiences. The only people on the trip I will name will be the professionals involved, however, if anyone wishes to identify himself or herself they are more than welcome to.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Aw man... doc... I just drifted onto the Worlds of Flavor website and now you've just tanked my September and October... Sicily sounds much more fun than - work...

Can't wait to read your report!

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

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docsconz   

Fonda “El Refugio”

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Our first meal together was at the nearby Fonda “El Refugio”. While it provided a nice start to the week, ironically it turned out to be one of the weakest meals that we had. The place was nice enough. The entrance was bright with various food items in front of us as we entered.

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We were led to a private room upstairs. The group was actually fairly large with 20 participants from diverse backgrounds. The one thing we all had in common was a very strong interest in good food. There were a number of food professionals looking for specific insights into the cuisine of Mexico and an equal number of food enthusiasts looking for insights to fill our insides with. Over the course of the week the group meshed beautifully with an easy comradery born of sharing time and effort in the market and kitchen trenches.

The restaurant has been around for awhile as it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004.

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As if we were back in the US we were initially served tortilla chips with salsa verde

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and guacamole

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I was certainly hungry.

Next was a plate with a fried cheese-filled quesadilla and a meat taco.

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These were good, but fairly ordinary.

Soups followed with a choice of either mushroom

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Caldo Tlapeno

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or a fava soup (not pictured). I had the Caldo Tlapeno, while my wife had the mushroom soup. The Tlapeno was essentially a chicken/avocado soup. It was homey and tasty as was the mushroom soup.

My main course was a fairly tasteless grilled flattened beef tenderloin, Carne Tabasquena. It was fairly tasteless unless and until combined with the frijoles or guacamole on the plate. The best thing on the plate though was the fried plantain.

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My wife had the tastiest course of the evening and left me cursing my choice. She had the Huachinango (red snapper) Vera Cruz style. This was delicious and by far the best thing I tasted all night.

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There was a third alternative for a main course, Pollo Placcro, but I didn’t taste it (We hardly knew each other!)

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Dessert was a combination of various traditional items on one plate. While not presented particularly artfully, they were tasty. This included stewed guava, arroz con leche, natillas, changos zamoranos and on most plates, but unfortunately not mine as they had run out, zapote negro.

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Rick pointing out what was what.

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With zapote negro

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Without

Overall, the dinner was satisfying, especially as we got to know each other and appeared to be compatible, much, I am sure, to everyone’s relief.

The next day started with an almuerzo at El bajio before a shopping excursion at El Merced.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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kalypso   

John, what memories :smile:

I did the CIA trip to Oaxaca 3 years ago and loved every minute of it. It really is a lovely experience, and while it seems pricey on the surface, it's really quite a good bargain for all the information and access you ultimately get. And I agree, Rick's a sweetheart and Richard James is wonderful too. I very nearly went on the trip this year because it was to an area I hadn't visited in nearly 20 years, but I was already committed to a week in Patzcuaro (for an astrology conference no less) on the same dates.

CIA Greystone sponsors a seminar each fall - usually the first weekend in November - called World of Flavors that focuses on a particular cuisine or concept that is attended mostly by folks in the food business. In 2002 the conference was on Spanish & Latin Flavors and was a terrific experience, driving rain storm and all. Marilyn also does a very small tour each October/November for chefs and other food professionals (which I did in 2004). Roberto Santibanez and Ricardo Munoz are the two primary instructors and it is a lot more food intensive/recipe/technique driven than the CIA trip. The 2005 che'fs trip was based in Tepotzlan and I am not sure where she's going this Fall, but I'm planning to ask when I see her at IACP at the end of the month.

I am definitely looking forward to the rest of your reports and photos :biggrin:

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Papaya   

Sounds (and looks) like a great trip! A few questions: Where exactly in Mexico was this particular restaurant? Did your tour follow what is currently on the World of Flavors website? Also, what are natillas?

While I was in Mexico recently, I never saw or had caldo tlapeno, but I did find "Tlapeno"-flavored instant ramen noodles in the supermarket...

I'm looking forward to more!

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docsconz   
John, what memories  :smile: 

I did the CIA trip to Oaxaca 3 years ago and loved every minute of it.  It really is a lovely experience, and while it seems pricey on the surface, it's really quite a good bargain for all the information and access you ultimately get.  And I agree, Rick's a sweetheart and Richard James is wonderful too. I very nearly went on the trip this year because it was to an area I hadn't visited in nearly 20 years, but I was already committed to a week in Patzcuaro (for an astrology conference no less) on the same dates. 

CIA Greystone sponsors a seminar each fall - usually the first weekend in November - called World of Flavors that focuses on a particular cuisine or concept that is attended mostly by folks in the food business.  In 2002 the conference was on Spanish & Latin Flavors and was a terrific experience, driving rain storm and all.  Marilyn also does a very small tour each October/November for chefs and other food professionals (which I did in 2004).  Roberto Santibanez and Ricardo Munoz are the two primary instructors and it is a lot more food intensive/recipe/technique driven than the CIA trip.  The 2005 che'fs trip was based in Tepotzlan and I am not sure where she's going this Fall, but I'm planning to ask when I see her at IACP at the end of the month. 

I am definitely looking forward to the rest of your reports and photos  :biggrin:

I really want to go to Oaxaca. They are thinking of returning there with WOF in a couple of years or so. They think the that it is relatively too expensive right now. Apparently this goes in cycles. In any case, i can wait.

The 2006 WOF Conference is all about Spanish food with Jose Andres being the principle. They are anticipating a pretty good line-up from Spain as well. i hope to attend.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz   
Sounds (and looks) like a great trip!  A few questions: Where exactly in Mexico was this particular restaurant? Did your tour follow what is currently on the World of Flavors website? Also, what are natillas?

While I was in Mexico recently, I never saw or had caldo tlapeno, but I did find "Tlapeno"-flavored instant ramen noodles in the supermarket...

I'm looking forward to more!

Fonda "El Refugio" islocated in the Zona Rosa of Mexico City on Liverpool.

Natillas are a custard like dessert similar to creme brulee.

How was the ramen? :hmmm:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Genny   

Thanks for the lead on the culinary tour Doc, I've saved the link for future reference. I look forward to the rest of your report.

I love traveling in Mexico and have been jonesing for a return trip. Hopefully we'll be going to Monterrey before the summer is out to visit friends. The wife is the one that taught me how to make Tinga.

I was surprised at the plantain. I didn't think they were that far west in Latin America. Do you know if it is another import or if it is indigenous?

The vera cruz looks amazing. I've made the recipe from Bayless's cookbook using salmon and it was so good. I was actually thinking this morning that it is time to make it again!

Since El Refugio was so unspectacular, was it mentioned if this place has a specific culinary "claim to fame" that made it part of the tour?

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docsconz   

El Bajio

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We had an early brunch at a wonderful restaurant, El Bajio. One of the downsides of traveling with a group and not having responsibility for locating places is that I don’t have as great a sense as to where certain places are in relation to others. As such, I can’t really say where this restaurant is within Mexico City. For what it is worth it is not all that far from the Merced market.

We entered from the side. Although we were the first customers of the day, the place was already bustling with the staff all getting ready for service. Traditionally, women have dominated the kitchen of this restaurant. While that is still the case, it appears that there is currently a fairly large contingent of Catalan men here learning the techniques of the restaurant’s owner, Carmen Titita Ramirez. These techniques highlight the cuisine of her native Veracruz on the eastern coast of Mexico.

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Entering the Restaurant

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The empty main dining room

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Wallboard menu

After milling about the essentially empty restaurant and watching the preparations of the largely open front kitchen for a few minutes we were directed to a back room that was set up just for us with particularly beautiful setting.

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Earthenware bowls of salsa negra awaiting distribution

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Salsas negra, verde and roja with cut limes and decorative roses on the table

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Nearby folk art decoration

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Ferran Adria was here!

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Ana Elena and Rick mulling over some details

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Working the masa.

Shortly after we sat down around the large table we were offered fresh juices. I chose the carrot juice, which was refreshing and delicious. I never realized that this could be so good.

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In addition we were given a choice of blueberry or chocolate atoles. Pictured is the blueberry, which I had. My wife had the chocolate Champurrado. Both were delicious. Atole is a traditional Mexican beverage thickened with corn masa and sweetened typically with piloncillo, the traditional Mexican sugar.

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Now that our thirst were being well attended to it was time to assuage our mounting hunger. We were started with a couple of varieties of pelliscadas, the literal meaning of which is “pinched at”, although they resembled tostadas or even little pizzas. One ws dominate by a salsa roja while the other had a verde. Both had crumbled queso fresco on top.

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Veracruz style Tamal Ranchero with banana leaf wrapper

The tamal was my first of the trip. It was outstanding. It was also the first time I had one in a yucatacan style with the banana leaf. It imparted a wonderful flavor to the masa. This was followed by another excellent dish from the Yucatan, Huevos Tirados, scrambled eggs with black beans and an entomatada with more queso sprinkled on top. Delicious.

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Dessert was fairly simple, but wonderful. We had a gordita, puff-fried masa that contained piloncillo and anise. This was augmented beautifully by a small quantity of the salsa negra, which was made from red chipotles. Tp go along with this w were served Café Olla, coffee with piloncillo and cinnamon.

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Gordita

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Café Olla

By this time the restaurant was getting into full swing for almuerzo soon to be followed by the comida service.

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The tortilla maker

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Fresh-grille tortillas

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How much is that Chichuron in the window?

One thing that was pleasantly apparent through the course of the meal was the veritable absence of flying insects, most notably flies. The explanation given was the presence of hanging plastic bags of water in the kitchens! I don’t know if this was the real reason or not, but whatever it was , the result was welcome.

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John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz   
Thanks for the lead on the culinary tour Doc, I've saved the link for future reference.  I look forward to the rest of your report. 

I love traveling in Mexico and have been jonesing for a return trip.  Hopefully we'll be going to Monterrey before the summer is out to visit friends.  The wife is the one that taught me how to make Tinga.

I was surprised at the plantain.  I didn't think they were that far west in Latin America.  Do you know if it is another import or if it is indigenous? 

The vera cruz looks amazing.  I've made the recipe from Bayless's cookbook using salmon and it was so good.  I was actually thinking this morning that it is time to make it again!

Since  El Refugio was so unspectacular, was it mentioned if this place has a specific culinary "claim to fame" that made it part of the tour?

We had a delicious Tinga during the trip. I just love that word, too.

I don't know if platanos are indigenous to Central Mexico, but I am sure that given the trade networks they were available there in pre-Columbian times.

El Refugio was still quite good, it just suffered a bit compared to everywhere else we ate.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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MissAmy   

What a cool trip! Thank you so much for posting these pictures.

I have a question about the Tamal. Was that stuffed with anything (like the pork tamales that we so dearly love in Texas) or was it just plain masa?

Thanks again for posting this.


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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docsconz   
What a cool trip! Thank you so much for posting these pictures.

I have a question about the Tamal. Was that stuffed with anything (like the pork tamales that we so dearly love in Texas) or was it just plain masa?

Thanks again for posting this.

My pleasure!

If I remeber correctly the tamal may have had some chicken in it. My overriding memory of it, though is of the flavor the banana lef gave to the masa.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Since  El Refugio was so unspectacular, was it mentioned if this place has a specific culinary "claim to fame" that made it part of the tour?

Fonda el Refugio is one of those classic old-line places with a sterling reputation that everybody is told to go to. Probably Rick Bayless has been going there since he was a kid visiting Mexico City.

Which is not to say it's going to be exciting or even particularly great.

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Fantastic Doc, nice food shots - that snapper is calling me.


nathan gray

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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doc.

Thanks for the continual photo-feed (pun intended!). A few questions from a very under-versed Mexican eGulleter. :blush:

1. What is salsa negra made of?

2. Were the atoles cold or hot? I would guess that blueberry would probably be cold, except the chocolate, I thought might be warm/hot?

3. Re: pelliscadas. At first (quick) glance, they looked like to rounds of hummous... but after reading the description and closer inspection, they look like a short-bread type pastry... althought it looks like it could also be slightly doughy-chewy... how would you describe the texture? You said they were like tostadas or pizza - thin crust or more "deep dish?" :laugh:

Sorry for the ignorance - immensely captivated and curious.

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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docsconz   
doc.

Thanks for the continual photo-feed (pun intended!).  A few questions from a very under-versed Mexican eGulleter. :blush:

1. What is salsa negra made of?

2. Were the atoles cold or hot?  I would guess that blueberry would probably be cold, except the chocolate, I thought might be warm/hot?

3.  Re: pelliscadas.  At first (quick) glance, they looked like to rounds of hummous... but after reading the description and closer inspection, they look like a short-bread type pastry... althought it looks like it could also be slightly doughy-chewy...  how would you describe the texture?  You said they were like tostadas or pizza - thin crust or more "deep dish?"  :laugh:

Sorry for the ignorance - immensely captivated and curious. 

u.e.

The salsa negra is a very rich and deeply flavored sauce made, I believe, from red chipotles. A little goes a long way. It was remarkable how well it went with the sweet gordita.

The atoles were both cold. They had excellent texture and flavor.

The "dough" of the pelliscadas was crisped masa. They were very much like small tostadas except the ends were "pinched up" pie like.

This was a very big learning experience for me as well. I have always enjoyed Mexican food, but really knew very little about it. While I am still far from an expert, I feel that maybe I have passed my novitiate now. :smile: - at least for Central Mexican and perhaps Yucatecan mexican food :wink:

Next up (hopefully tonight) - The Merced Market.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz   

The Merced

When we finished almuerzo at El Bajio we were divided up into groups of four and each group was given an assignment and money to buy various items at the Merced market, the largest market in Mexico City if not all of Mexico. This exercise was designed to introduce us not only to the produce and the market, but to each other as well. The process worked beautifully. My group consisted of myself (duh0 and three others. My wife was in a different group. In fact all the couples had been split up for this. Our assignment was to seek out and purchase cinnamon, guavas, chile ancho, chile piquin, chile chipotle meco, platano morado, chile habanero, granada china, calabacita and hoja santa. The one thing we couldn’t find was a special variety of mango , the petacon. It turns out that w were simply asking the wrong people – mango dealers who didn’t have it and who wouldn’t help their competitors, or us!

As all great markets, the merced was a feast for the senses. The explosion of colors, the wonderfully sweet permeating smell of guavas and the cacophony of the stalls all stimulated. We made short work of our list and still had a little time to explore and buy a few things for ourselves. The rest of this post will consist of photos with brief descriptions.

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The first thing I saw after I got off the bus was a man loading sacks of produce into the trunk of a taxi. This was an auspicious beginning.

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Crossing the street to get to the market was a challenge.

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These colored powders were one of the first things to grab my attention as we entered the indoor market.

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A number of varieties of delicious mangoes were available. These were manilas.

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The market was a very busy place. We had the indoor metro stop as our central meeting point.

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Not a vampire around…

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An early selection of mole and other pastes.

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Jamaica – hibiscus flowers used to make delicious teas and sweetened beverages amongst other uses.

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Banana leaves for tamales

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A variety of chiles.

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Our group buying some of said chiles.

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Dark, rich and delicious mulatto chiles. These are darker anchos.

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A variety of corn with which to make masa for tortillas or tamales.

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Our source for guava.

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A cacophony of fruit – mangos and platanos morados.

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Mangos, figs and Granada chinas, a passion-fruit-like fruit.

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Banana leaves, corn husks and hoja santa leaves.

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Ham, chorizo and dairy products

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Habaneros – a non-native (to México) pepper.

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The wonderful limes of Mexiico. Can you say margarita?

I will continue tomorrow with additional photos of various parts of the market including meats, nopales and more.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Genny   

Wow Doc, I just love the photos and travel log. Great job! Thank you so much.

The mercado pix remind me of a trip to Mexico, to Guadalajara about 8 years ago. I wasn't much of a cook yet back then and was really squeamish about raw meats and facing the true source of it. (I've come a long way baby!) I imagine the mercado in Mexico city was similar to the one in Guadalajara. I was in awe of the "groceries" all the fresh produce and spices in the same building as leather goods, food stalls, marble chess sets, cowboy boots and childrens clothes. It was a dizzying experience.

I could smell the butcher area before we actually saw it. Rounding the corner I came face to face with a hanging calf, still bleeding out just a bit. I was truly shocked and had to look away. Unfortunately I looked up and found a whole row of pig heads! That was all I could take. I had to get out. I was a true wimp! My husband was sweet and helped me to the nearest exit (about 20 feet away) and I managed to not get physically sick. I learned such a valuable lesson though that day. I learned how important it is to really *know* where your food comes from and appreciate it. The other visits to Mexico there were no major mercados like that near by, only westernized grocery stores.

Sorry for the high-jack!

So, inquiring minds really want to know what you brought back from your trip! Spices? Pastes?

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docsconz   

No hijack at all, Genny. I appreciate your interest.

As for what we brought back: a collection of dried chiles, cinnamon, various beans, dried favas, piloncillo, cheese from Chiappas, tamarind, maguey agua miel, various forms of alegria, camotes, membrillo, a mirror, some pottery, a few paintings, some clothing and dew-dads for the kids. In addition we had some Uriarte Talavera pieces shipped. I think that pretty much covers it. Oh, of course, some tequila :biggrin:

Good thing we brought an extra suitcase :wink:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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No hijack at all, Genny. I appreciate your interest.

As for what we brought back: a collection of dried chiles, cinnamon, various beans, dried favas, piloncillo, cheese from Chiappas, tamarind, maguey agua miel, various forms of alegria, camotes, membrillo, a mirror, some pottery, a few paintings, some clothing and dew-dads for the kids. In addition we had some Uriarte Talavera pieces shipped. I think that pretty much covers it. Oh, of course, some tequila :biggrin:

Good thing we brought an extra suitcase :wink:

No problems with U.S. customs?

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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docsconz   
No hijack at all, Genny. I appreciate your interest.

As for what we brought back: a collection of dried chiles, cinnamon, various beans, dried favas, piloncillo, cheese from Chiappas, tamarind, maguey agua miel, various forms of alegria, camotes, membrillo, a mirror, some pottery, a few paintings, some clothing and dew-dads for the kids. In addition we had some Uriarte Talavera pieces shipped. I think that pretty much covers it. Oh, of course, some tequila :biggrin:

Good thing we brought an extra suitcase :wink:

No problems with U.S. customs?

u.e.

We didn't bring back anything illegal or illegally. I checked carefully before we left. I declared everything on our sheet. The customs agent asked about the items and waved us through, which was fortunate as we were running late for a connection. We did have a little problem with the airline due to the paintings which were barely oversized secondary to the packing job done by the hotel concierge.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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docsconz   

Merced continued

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More pastes and powders from the part of the market where they predominate.

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Another angle.

We now began venturing into the land of offal and meat – squeamish be warned!

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Yes those are heads.

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In case the other picture was too small to see them clearly.

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Gives new meaning to the term “pig-headed”

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More pork

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This one had me fascinated. The man is scraping the inside of pig faces! I have no idea what they are used for in this way.

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More conventional pork products. The chicharron looked good.

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Chicken! Get them while you can. It is scary to think what danger this part of the market is in.

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Strawberry aisles forever…. The scent was alluring.

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I love those baskets. We were warned to stay away from the fresh strawberries, however. We were guided well. I am not aware of anyone in the group having developed “turista”.

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More chicharron products on our way back to the meeting point. I believe the carnudo is simply ground up. I think the stuff to the right is a head cheese, but would welcome a more definitive opinion.

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From heads….to tails…

gallery_8158_2659_68259.jpg…and back to more heads.

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Yes, they do have seafood, although this was one of the less appetizing areas of the market. It smelled fishy. Similar markets in Europe were amazingly devoid of that smell.

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The avocados were amazing.

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A man and his bananas.

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The nopales area was extensive, very interesting and beautiful.

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Cutting off the needles from the nopales

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The stacks were impressive.

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Before the needles were cut off.

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This stall was for the beans…and I bought a few.

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Cascabels.

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Jitomates. This is the word for tomatoes. Tomates are large tomatillos. Confusing? Somewhat.

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Mameys

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Chipotle moras – nice, dark and rich.

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They have food prep stands as well.

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Chicken heads and feet. Just when you thought it was safe to peek!

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My wife and I outside the market.

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Hasta la vista, Merced!

Just a point on the people photos. I always asked permission to photograph people. Most were more than willing. Those that refused (a few) I didn’t take photos of.

It might be a little while before I can post some more photos, but there are plenty more. This is only the end of the first morning!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Pontormo   

Wow, Doc!

Between this report of your trip to Mexico, and sizzleteeth's photographs from India, you two are really making the regional forums the place to be these days.

In addition to novelties, I have to say those baskets of strawberries are captivating, too, especially since it is almost spring.

Is it just that tourists have not built up a lifetime of immunities from the bacteria in the water and fresh fruit that they are cautioned not to eat them? I would like more of a medical explanation of the "Don't Drink the Water" phenomenon. I imagine you did eat some of the avocados and mangoes, uncooked. Is peeled fruit safer than berries?


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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docsconz   
Wow, Doc!

Between this report of your trip to Mexico, and sizzleteeth's photographs from India, you two are really making the regional forums the place to be these days.

In addition to novelties, I have to say those baskets of strawberries are captivating, too, especially since it is almost spring.

Is it just that tourists have not built up a lifetime of immunities from the bacteria in the water and fresh fruit that they are cautioned not to eat them?  I would like more of a medical explanation of the "Don't Drink the Water" phenomenon.  I imagine you did eat some of the avocados and mangoes, uncooked.  Is peeled fruit safer than berries?

Actually I ate a lot of raw fruit - all of it peeled. There are a few reasons why non-natives or more accurately temporary visitors need to be cautious with raw fruit, veggies and water. One comes from the way the soil is fertilized. I believe that it is not uncommon for human waste to be used. This contaminates the exterior surfaces of said raw items. while particularly pathological bugs can be transferred in this way, it isn't even necessary that they be so. Just the fact that the "flora" is significantly different compared to most Americans or Europeans and that the exposure can be profound, it is enough to upset most people's GI tracts. The water in most places also tends to follow suit. As people spend more time there their bodies become more acclimated to the flora and adjust. Another reason that people sometimes become well acquainted with their WC's is that the diet tends to have a lot more bulk in the form of fruit and largely hidden in sauces vegetable fiber.

Low-lying fruit such as strawberries are apparently particularly risky.

Not being an expert in GI Medicine, that relatively simple explanation makes sense to me. :smile:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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