Mexican countryside

Mexican countryside

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mmmm... Tortas!

I am always looking for new places to eat here in Mexico City, even more so since friends of mine will be coming for a visit next week.  On Thursday I returned to the apartment that I rent, and I had lunch at a nearby spot that I had not yet visited... a place called "Tortas Don Beto".   

"Tortas" are certainly not gourmet cuisine, but they are very much a part of everyday eating in Mexico.  They similar to Cuban sandwiches... crusty rolls filled with all sorts of goodies.
At "Don Beto" the waiter brings you a pen and a slip of paper that is printed with their menu.  There is a lot more than just "tortas" on the menu, and I decided to try a couple other things.  I started with "fideo seco"... noodles cooked in tomato sauce and served here with more than a healthy dollop of cheese and a slice of avocado.

It was tasty but I have had better elsewhere.

Next came an order of three small "tacos al pastor", the pork taco that originated in Mexico City.

I have definitely had better elsewhere!

Well, lets see how they do with "tortas"  I ordered their signature "torta" filled with pork, ham, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, cheese, and who knows what else.

This was very tasty (even if it is not the healthiest of meals).  So, "Tortas Don Beto" does know how to make a good "torta".  And the price was very reasonable.  My whole meal, including beverage, was under 200 pesos... less than $10 US.  I would come here again for "tortas", but I would go to a "taquería" for tacos.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Remembering María Luisa

If you have been following this blog for some time, you know that last January, while I was in Mexico City, Alejandro's mother passed away.

María Luisa was a sweet, loving person whom I regarded as my ¨Mexican mom".

Wednesday was her birthday, and there was going to be a mass in her name.  I am not a churchgoer, but I was happy to accompany Alejandro, his father, his sister and nephew, and an aunt and uncle to the service.

The mass was held in the parish church just a few blocks away from Alejandro's home.

There must have been a wedding the weekend before because the interior of the church was decked out with flower arrangements.

I felt bad because I could not understand the mass.  I could only catch a word here and there. The sound system was not good, and the high ceilinged church was an echo chamber.  I was also fighting the urge to nod off, and I was glad that the priest could not see me because of the vase of flowers between us.  After the service I felt better when Alejandro and his uncle complained that they could not understand the priest either.  And his uncle admitted that he had fallen asleep.  

Afterwards we went back to the house, and sat around the dining room table.  Alejandro's sister served "café con crema" and the "pan de muerto" that we had bought the previous day.  I broke out the box of homemade fudge that I had brought.

In spite of not being able to understand the mass, it was a lovely family get-together, and a chance to remember a wonderful lady who remains in our hearts.

Good Morning

A dramatic, early morning sky taken from the roof of Alejandro's house in Mexico City.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Gringo Cook Is Back

I spend my first two nights in Mexico City at Alejandro's house, and on Wednesday I gave him and his sister a break from cooking by preparing a couple dinners for the family.  When Alejandro and I walked his nephew Ezra to school that morning, I asked him what he wanted to eat that day.  I was thoroughly expecting him to say meatballs, which are his favorite food.  Instead, he said chicken.  I then went to the nearby Walmart and did some grocery shopping. 

When I got back to Alejandro's house, I started cooking.  I combined shredded chicken breast with sautéed onions, bell peppers and garlic, baby carrots, green peas, a jar of Alfredo sauce, and cooked noodles.

I'm not sure that is what Ezra had in mind when he said he wanted chicken for dinner, but he cleaned his plate.  His grandfather definitely seemed to like it and had two helpings.  It tasted pretty good to me too.  I like dinners that are easy to throw together, and I might make this again for myself at home.

I also prepared the meatballs in tomato sauce that Ezra always enjoys.  That can be dinner for another day this week.

A Different Kind of Bread

On Tuesday afternoon, I no sooner had a chance to get settled into Alejandro's house and change my clothes, when Alejandro said, "Come on, we are going to go buy bread."  I headed out the door with him, his sister and nephew.  I was confused, because we were not headed toward the bakery where they usually buy bread but in the opposite direction.  I was soon to find out that we were going to buy a special kind of bread that is a specialty of this part of town, San Juan de Aragón.  (When Alejandro's parents moved to this neighborhood many years ago, San Juan de Aragón was an agricultural village with dirt roads on the fringes of the city.  It is now completely absorbed within the urban sprawl of Mexico City.) This bread is made only in the month of October in the weeks leading up to Day of the Dead.  I have written here before about the typical "Pan de Muerto" (Bread of the Dead), which is found in virtually every bakery at this time of year.  It is a small, round, sweet loaf decorated with dough crossbones on top.

(image taken from the web)

This, however, is a different kind of Bread of the Dead...

After walking several blocks in a light drizzle, we arrived at a metal gate along the street.  Alejandro's sister, Sandra, rang the bell, and a man opened the gate.  Sandra put in her order, and a few minutes later a woman appeared with a couple plastic bags filled with bread.  We scurried back to the house as the rain began to fall more persistently. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Flying Down to Mexico

Yesterday morning I was at Cleveland Airport by 7:00 to catch my 9:00 flight to Houston.  Cleveland is usually a very tranquil airport, but on my last trip and again on this trip the line waiting to go through security was long and rather disorganized.  They were letting people get into the TSA-Pre line even without authorization on the boarding pass.  I was one of those who lucked out, which means I didn't have to take off my shoes or pull my laptop or liquids out of my bag.  However, after passing my carry-ons through the X-ray, the TSA person had to inspect my roller-bag.  I fully expected that because I was carrying a box of homemade fudge for Alejandro's family, and that always arouses their suspicions.  This time, however, she also  inspected my backpack.  The two books that I was carrying looked suspicious on the X-ray image.  That was the extent of the drama for the day.  My flights went smoothly, leaving and arriving on time.  

When my plane landed in Mexico City, I called Alejandro to see if he was on his way to the airport to pick me up.  He was still in the office, so, knowing Mexico City traffic, I figured it would be a while before he got there.  The line waiting to go through immigration was very long.  It took about 40 minutes from the time that I got in line to the time that I had passed through immigration.  I had no luggage to pick up, and customs was a snap.  An officer simply asked me where I was from and waved me through.  I figured that I had time to go to the restroom, but as I was finishing, my cell phone rang.  It was Alejandro.  He was at the arrivals gate and was wondering where I was. 

Alejandro drove me to his house, and I am spending a couple nights there before I go to my apartment.

So, here I am, back for another month in Mexico City!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Mexico City, Here I Come

My checklist of things to do before my departure is complete.  My bags have been packed for the last several days.  This morning I printed off my boarding passes.

Tomorrow morning a friend will take me to the airport... a ten minute drive from my house... and I will be on my way!

My next post will be from Mexico City!