I'm from Mexico City and lived in the U.S. for a total of more than 24 years. Now I'm back in Mexico. I realized I was seeing my country through the eyes of a native stranger. This is an attempt to process the differences, to explain Mexico to the U.S. and the U.S. to Mexico. With digressions along the way.

viernes, diciembre 17, 2004

Do We Really Eat Crickets?

I think what I enjoy most about being back in Mexico City is the food. I laugh at "authentic" Mexican cuisine restaurants in the U.S., with their strange versions of "huevos rancheros." Not that there really IS an authentic Mexican cuisine. Traditional Mexican food is extremely varied and in constant change. For example, one of my favorite foods, "tacos al carbón," has only been around since the 60s. I don't much care for northern Mexican food, which seems to be what U.S. Mexican food seems to based on. For one, I like corn tortillas way better than flour ones. Even the restaurants opened by Mexicans that serve tacos al carbón just don't do them justice. The meat tastes different, the tortillas aren't just right. The closest I came to good Mexican food in the U.S. was a place in Chapel Hill called "Besa Mi Burro" that was owned by a Columbian! And it wasn't that the dishes were identical or faithful to anything I've had in Mexico, they just had the right distinctive taste.
There are dishes in Mexico that I'm sure foreigners would find quite strange: iguana, maguey (agave) caterpillars, ant eggs, and "chapulines" (crickets). My mother prepared chapulines for us the other day (pictured here), with "nopalitos" (cactus). They are fried in a red sauce and you eat them rolled up in corn tortillas. To be quite honest I prefer them when they are tiny and you can't quite make out they are crickets. But they are very tasty. Not all Mexicans eat these or any of the other strange dishes that got inherited to us from the indigenous peoples. I gave my mom a hard time all day after this meal saying "mommy feeds us insects"...well, because that's the sort of thing we do in my family.