Friday, July 31, 2009

The most important meals of the day (Mexico City)

It's 10:00 a.m. Do you know where your breakfast is?

Mine is around the corner, across the street from one pharmacy, next door to another, at the place where 100 chickens are crisping as they ride the Ferris wheel of a huge rotisserie. And I'm hungry.

This is what 30 pesos (about $2.75, including tip) buys me:
Fruit salad: fresh chunks of watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe, and pineapple.
Soup: Chicken broth with (my five daily servings of vegetables) onions, carrots, cauliflower, kale, tomato. Plus some grains of rice, a coupla beans, perhaps a chicken wing, an occasional bit of seafood, ham, or fatback. Just add a squeeze of lime and a piece of hot, pickled jalapeƱo pepper, and you've got a huge bowl of deliciousness.
Although I occasionally have a quarter of a roasted chicken (yes, and at home I like cold pizza for breakfast), my usual order is Huevos a la mexicana, two or three eggs, scrambled with chopped onions, green bell peppers, and tomatoes, with a side of chilaquiles, tortilla strips sauteed with onions, mixed with green salsa and cream and topped with crumbled white cheese. A pool of smokey, spicy, red salsa to go with.
Potato chips. I always skip 'em. Who needs the calories?
A bolillo, an airy white roll that's big enough to seat two.
Cafe con leche.

If I'm not so hungry, I'll go to a nearby hole-in-the-wall for a simple dish of yogurt with honey, granola, and fresh fruit, and a cup of not-strong-enough black coffee.

When I go for breakfast lite, I'll indulge in a multi-course lunch (comida corrida, $2.50-5.00, plus tip). Usually it's soup (ex: lentil, cream of some vegetable, chicken with some kind of squash), rice, and main dish (empanadas, chicken in mole or green sauce, crepes stuffed with huitlacoche and bathed in a creamy mushroom sauce), agua (sweetened, fruit-flavored water), and dessert (jello, flan, cookies...). Sometimes, when I'm in the mood for lots of vegetables, I'll splurge on an all-I-can-eat Chinese buffet ($6.50).

If I've done breakfast hevy, I might not eat anything for the rest of the day. Or, at some point, I'll pay 80 cents for a chile relleno or cauliflower/broccoli "pancake", rice, and two tortillas at a stand near one of the metro stops. I add beans, cucumbers, nopales (pickled cactus), and green/red salsa and I'm good to go. Or I'll go to another stand for quesadillas of huitlacoche (corn fungus). Or I'll buy a big cup of mango and papaya chunks that the vendor will drench in lime and sprinkle with chili powder and salt. Sometimes I purchase little bags of big, crunchy corn kernels dusted in cheese; big beans fried and smothered in hot chili powder, salt, and lime; and dried, salted and spiced mango and munch as I walk about. Or I'll pick up a quarter of a roasted chicken from another rotisserie, spirit it up to my room, and feast, while watching CNN.

Despite all my gourmandising, I'm losing weight. The pants that hugged my thighs before I left the States are baggy and saggy. A skirt that pinched my waist now barely hangs onto my hips. I guess I better go eat something....

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