Last night I could finally eat solid food, other than corn flakes and plain tortillas. And I could walk more than a block without feeling like throwing up or collapsing!
Did I mention I LOVE Mexican food (as evidenced by my cheerful expression in the photos below)? Especially the street food at night. Around these parts, one can find tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, taquitos, and tlayudas (huge tortillas stuffed with melty local cheese, lettuce, beans, and meat) frequently on offer on front patios or small establishments, often accompanied by an agua fresca (thin, watery juice made with fresh fruit- tastes much better than I'm describing it here). So many permutations of the corn tortilla with cilantro, lime, chiles, cheese, and meat. That's one yummy din-din!
Harold patronizes one of his high school friends' dinnertime dining establishments. "Lili" prepares all of the above mentioned items at astonishing speed for dozens of neighborhood residents on a nightly basis. This is after she gets home from her day job and goes for a run. Oh, and she has two kids. Whew!
People try to patronize their neighbors' food stands not only to support them financially, but to ensure greater accountability for hygienic food preparation. The toppings pictured above include red chile salsa, Oaxacan cheese (crumbly, not melty like that served in US Mexican restaurants), Oaxacan sausage, which is bright red, guacamole, refried black beans, cilantro, lime and onion. Food is made fresh every day from the raw ingredients. The mere mention of jars, cans, and especially "comida congelada" (frozen food), will elicit a cringe or scoff from many Oaxacans, who are residents of the most renowned state in Mexico for its culinary tradition.
These are tacos al pastor. Tacos as served at Mexican fast-food chains or family-style Mexican restaurants in the US are nowhere to be found in Oaxaca. Neither are flour tortillas, with the exception of "gringas", which consist of a flour tortilla and cheese, a little more like Taco Bell, I guess. (Of note, somebody here said there was actually one Taco Bell in the entire country, in Mexico City.) The owner of this establishment, seated behind me, exhibits the less-than-enthusiastic service common in this area and many other places I have visited over the years. Oh, well.
Anyway, the meat comes from the apparatus pictured below. It is extremely flavorful, and somewhat orange in color from the seasonings. It is sliced off and served with mini- tortillas, cilantro, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole and lime. I ate five!
Five were left for Harold to eat before moving on to the next stand...