|Street food: blue corn tortillas with rajas, tomatillos, cheese.|
It's one of the most populated cities in the world. The streets are full of smog, dirt, poverty and noise. The trains are like a parliament of hawkers and beggars, singing their way up the crowded carriages. But I love it. To the point that I'd live there.
Mexican food has been underrated until recently, but it is one of the world's great cuisines. There is so much variety in genuine Mexican food, it's so much more than the Tex-Mex version, heavy on the beans and cheese, that we tend to get over here.
Flauta, rolled tortilla
Potato chips with salsas and pickles. Like you do.
The food everywhere is fairground bright
Pepitos, coloured wafers with pumpkin seeds
While waiting for the toilet, why not buy a cool drink from an impromptu stall?
1. Street food: possibly Mexico has the best street food in the world, on a par with Thailand and India. There isn't a corner of Mexico where people aren't eating. Mexicans really love to eat. You might even say, ahem, that they are greedy. Every doorway, every street corner, every cranny, every park, every metro station, every bus stop, every canal, every road, has a stall or a booth or a counter or a cart or a guy with a drinks maker on his back, selling the most delicious food. From a narrow bar hacking up tripe for tacos to grandmas crouching over a hot burner toasting blue corn tortilla with rajas, to intricately carved bright fruit on a stick, or pepitos hanging like bunting on a line, Mexico City is crammed with food experiences. Even the humble packet of cheezy wotsits becomes a gourmet feast, with salsa, chilli and lime. I'm not going to recommend particular places but suggest you go on a voyage of discovery, it's rarer to have bad food than good.
|The Courtyard at Azul Historico. Fantastic food.|
|Padrinos at 30 Isabel la Catolica. Note the bicycle on the wall.|
Above the courtyard you can also visit 'Culinaria Mexicana', a great resource for Mexican foods and kitchenware.
Guitarists lurking on the banks
Corn on the cob with chili and salt
Dressing the cob 'elote'3. Xochimilco: Mexico’s Little Venice is known for its extended series of canals, all that remains of the ancient Lake Xochimilco. People travel in colorful trajineras (boats) covered with flowers. I spent three relaxing hours on my own in a boat, for it was the off-season. The canal is almost comical, with drifting barges of different kinds of musicians, from mariachi to classical, nudging up alongside your boat, urging you to hire them. You pay per song. Idling on the reedy banks are vendors for crafts. Restaurant boats and food barges cruise past, give them a wave and they park next to you, preparing your food. It's as crowded and lively as the street but on the cool breezy water.
Frida's bed (I got in trouble for taking this)4. Coyoacan the market: near the house of Frida Kahlo. Eat there before or after visiting Frida's house. This compact market has rows of stalls with rainbow-hued salsas and ceviches, sold in heaped pyramids.
5. The market at San Juan: known as the chef's market, go to eat at market counters, have a wander and buy from the food stalls. The lunch stall of Dona Juana is very good. There are ornate religious shrines within the market.
Juice and pickles
Other resources: check out Good Food in Mexico City by Nicholas Hillman. He's a snotty bugger on Twitter (what is it with American men once they leave America?) but his blog and possibly his books are well worth reading.