Over the next few days, I'll be trickling out photos and details of my recent trip to Mexico City. Grab a Mexican hot chocolate, an agua fresca, or a Tecate beer, and come along for the ride. Start, please, with the musical slide show above.
Some quick background: Every now and then I'm offered trips to go places and cover them in my writing. I pass them up 90 percent of the time -- often, the topic is something I wouldn't normally cover, or it isn't consistent with my eating habits or values. Also, the very idea of press trips tends to make me uncomfortable. I did accept a trip to Cordova, Alaska in 2009 to learn about Copper River salmon. I'd been writing about sustainable seafood a lot at the time, so I considered the trip a relevant educational opportunity. And it was.
This time, I was invited to learn about the food culture and exploding culinary scene in Mexico City on a trip sponsored by Avocados from Mexico. Having just written a book about produce (releasing March 2012), and having written, too, about the importance of travel and experiencing new cultures through food, I accepted. I came away with a broad taste of Mexico's capital city, an even greater appreciation for avocados, and a renewed spirit of adventure. Also, I ate ant dust.
Here's a key to the photos in my slideshow, frame by frame. (The music, by the way, came from a recording I made on my iPhone of the mariachi band singing at the Arroyo Restaurant, where we had a leisurely lunch. More on that in coming days...)
1. A view of the Central de Abasto Wholesale Market, the world's largest wholesale produce market. The place was enormous, and I may devote a whole post to the produce, grains, beans, and Whiskas cat food they sell there. Stay tuned.
2. The lovely Mónica Moreno Arellano, one of our intrepid organizers and leaders, enjoying a fresh mango at the market.
3. A plate of lengua (beef tongue) tacos with an avocado/onion/tomato garnish at the Cantina la Guadalupana.
4. Bulk bins of dried beans, including frijol negro (black beans).
5. Huge displays of chicharrón (fried pork skin). I wrote about my first time eating chicharrón in southern California on iVillage back when I was a columnist there. In Mexico City, they're sometimes served in place of tortilla chips alongside guacamole.
6. Dried guajillo chilies.
7. Display of papas (potatoes).
8. Boxes of fresh guavas.
9. A giant stoneware tub of guacamole. I thought about swimming in it.
10. Mixiote -- lamb wrapped in cactus/agave membrane -- served with beans at El Arroyo.
11. A woman selling fresh squash blossom salad, in bulk, at the Tianguis de Lomas de Sotelo outdoor market.
If you've ever been to Mexico City, or elsewhere in Mexico, share a little about your experience below. Ultimately, I hope to aggregate information not just from my itinerary but from your comments, and then at the end of this little series I can provide a bunch of links for any of you who may choose to visit in the future.
Come back soon. There's más.