Tlalpujahua

Tlalpujahua

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Street Food, Yes or No?

Everywhere you go in Mexico City you will find food vendors who have set up their stands along the sidewalks.  Well, not everywhereI don't recall seeing any vendors in the ritzy Polanco district, or along Madero Avenue, the spruced up centerpiece of the city's historic district.  But in most parts of the city you don't have to go far to have a snack along the street.  I took the following photos on one short stroll through the fairly affluent neighborhood of Roma Norte...






 
 
The food vendors are definitely a part of the ambiance and chaos that is Mexico City.   Their aromas can be tantalizing;  the fact that they take up half of the busy sidewalks can be aggravating.  There are those who proclaim that the tastiest, most authentic... and cheapest... food in the city is to be found at these sidewalk stalls.
 
 
I must admit that I have never partaken of the culinary delights of street food in Mexico. Call me a scaredy cat if you like, but no matter how tempting the food might look and smell, it still seems to me an invitation to experience "Montezuma's Revenge".   I know, I know, one can dine at the classiest restaurants anywhere in the world and still come down with food poisoning, e-coli or salmonella.  But I have traveled to Mexico countless times, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that I have suffered intestinal distress.  So I think that my caution has paid off.  And I am not alone.  My friend Alejandro, a native-born "chilango" who is in no way an elitist snob, never eats street food.
 
I would be interested in hearing from my readers who travel to Mexico or who live there... do you eat the street food or not?  
 

11 comments:

  1. YES! In San Miguel I do. However I do bring down an arsenal of
    probiotic and garlic tablets/capsules and they do come in handy!

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    1. I know that I am probably overly cautious!
      ¡Saludos!

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  2. Interesting question. I started out in your camp (don't eat anything on the street, and avoid ice in restaurants, hahaha), but now I eat street food pretty often with a few rules. Rule #1, don't eat anything with mayonnaise on it. So no elotes pulled out of turgid water slathered with warm mayonnaise and chile. Mayonnaise is probably the perfect medium for bacteria. No thanks. Rule #2, find some place that has a lot of customers and a puesto that is permanently placed. Rule #3, look around for a while and see how the folks handle money (do they use gloves, etc?). If a place meets those criteria, then I'll happily eat street food. And I've never had a problem, though a dinner at the San Angel Inn, one of the poshest places in DF, made me violently ill shortly thereafter.

    The only time I ate street food and then started to worry was in Ocosingo, Chiapas. There I bought a fire-roasted elote, and after I started eating it, I noticed the vendor coughing. Immediately I started to worry that maybe she had tuberculosis. When I got back to the USA I even got a TB test, but it was negative. But my fear was due to the fact that there are places in Southern Mexico where TB is still an issue. Fortunately, nothing happened, and looking back, I was probably over-cautious.

    So next time you're in DF, give the street food a try. A lot of it is quite tasty.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where there's no street food, or even food trucks.

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    1. P.S. Acidic fruit and fruit juice are generally some of the safest things you can eat because the acid in the fruit tends to kill bacteria. No, it's not a 100% guarantee, but I've bought cups of fruit from street vendors all over Mexico and I've never had a problem.

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    2. Yes, I have read articles on how to pick out a hygienic food stall on the street or in the market, but I remain hesitant. Another issue, particularly in D.F. with its air pollution... I wonder what contaminants are settling on the food sitting out on the street. (Of course, by that reasoning, I guess I should also give up eating at sidewalk cafes.) I suppose I am just paranoid, but it's not like I ever go hungry in Mexico or lack for delicious food.
      Saludos,
      Bill

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  3. I eat street food. I stay away from leafy vegetables because they are so hard to clean and I have seen some of the streams they draw water from for their spray irrigation.

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    1. I used to avoid all uncooked vegetables and salads, but now in better restaurants I have salads. Knock on wood, I have had no problems. Restaurants soak the greens in anti-bacterial solution (I hope!), but I would be especially hesitant to eat anything uncooked from a street vendor.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for taking the time to comment!

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    2. I live over in Portage County. I'm staying home this winter but have gone to Latin America most winters since I retired in 08.

      My experience with greens and any Latin American restaurant is try to avoid the places where you have to wait at the door because of the crowd. They get rushed in the kitchen and the fresh vegetables do not get their soak time.

      A story from Ticul Yucatan: I was staying in a old colonial hotel on the plaza, there was a hotdog vendor with a line of about 20 people. I said to myself" " those dogs have to be good" so I got dressed and went down and bought one. Oh man was it good! A few more and then a few more and I did not feel so well in the morning. There was nothing wrong with the dogs other than being too good and me being a glutton.

      I think that all restaurants in Latin America treat their produce with disinfectant, cheap places to the cloth tablecloth joints or they go out of business in short order. The locals get sick from bacteria the same as we do. I've talked to Mayan ladies who sell street food every day, the idea of not soaking their wares was not even considered.

      I book marked your page, I'll stop back.

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    3. So you are the visitor from Mantua! I live in Olmsted Falls in the southwestern suburbs of Cleveland.
      You picked a good winter to stay home. It looks like it's going to be a very mild winter. Nevertheless I will be returning to Mérida and then D.F. in January.

      I agree that hygiene in restaurants has improved greatly over the years. I remember my early trips to Mexico back in the 70s when you didn't dare drink beverages with ice.
      ¡Saludos!

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  4. I was a hard core street food eater. You name it, I probably gave it a go. Including, despite Mr K's advice, plenty of corn cobs smothered in mayo. Yum!

    In 6 years I got Moctezumas Revenge just once. That was about two years in. One of those hot dogs where the sausages are wrapped in bacon did for me. I'd eaten goodness knows how many of them before I got done. I didn't eat so many afterwards.

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