Thursday, November 06, 2008

Guest-Blogger Nicholas Gilman on Five Favorite Funky Foods and Where to Find Them in Mexico City

Gotta eat! Today's guest-blogger is Nicholas Gilman, author of Good Food in Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining. A painter and teacher, he has shown his work extensively in the USA and Mexico. He studied gastronomy at UNAM, cooking at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, and is founding member of a Mexico City chapter of Slow Food International, and is a member of IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). He was editor and photographer for Jim Johnton's Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler. He also writes regularly about food for The News in Mexico City. Over to you, Nicholas!
My five favorite funky foods and where to find them

I treat myself once in a while to flautas which are not on anyone’s diet. Flautas the quintessential Mexican antojito and my favorite one. Elongated rolled tortillas (hence the name “flute”) are filled, fried golden brown, then topped with cream and salsa verde, and sprinkled with grated queso fresco and shredded lettuce. Flautas are usually served with caldo de gallina, a chicken soup better than any Jewish grandmother can make, and they are a calorie-laden guilty pleasure. My favorites come from a nameless stand on Calle Chilpancingo (fourth from the corner of Baja California by the metro Chilpango stop). A chilled mango Boing is the perfect accompaniment.

In the middle of the Coyoacan market you’ll find a gastronomic art installation at Tostadas de Coyoacán--- dozens of huge plates of mouth-watering tostada toppings. Shrimps, chicken, crab, mole, the list goes on. I start with their succulent lemony ceviche, topped with bright green salsa, then move on to pulpo, then maybe cochinita pibil... I’ve eaten as many as four at a sitting, but I don’t recommend this. To drink, order agua de melon from the stand next door. (Be sure to choose only Tostadas de Coyoacán-- their competitors are not as good.)

I love a warm hearty soup on a “cold” winter D.F. day (how dare I complain about the weather here...) Two blocks from Santa Maria de la Ribera’s groovy old Kiosko Moro is the extraordinary La Casa de Toño (Sabino 144), a pozolería set in a 19th-century mansion. Rich, red hominy laden pozole with all the trimmings is the house special, although sopes. tostadas and other antojitos are also offered. At $34 pesos for a pozole grande you’ve got a real bargain, too. The appropriate maridaje is horchata.

“But eet ees confit!” my French friend exclaimed when I showed her a pit where carnitas were cooking in their own fat. They should be served unceremoniously on a plastic plate, with an array of red and green salsas, cilantro, onions and limón...and tortillas, of course. There are thousands of carnitas joints all over town, but finding a great one is a task. I was drawn by the crispy brown crust and roasty aroma of these porky treats at La Reina de la Roma, my current favorite. They’re located at Campeche 106 (in front of the Mercado Medellín) in Colonia Roma. Proper quaff would be a crisp refresco de manzana (in a vintage bottle), or beer.

Chef, researcher and high priest of Mexican cuisine Ricardo Muñoz Zurita created his Azul y Oro in the middle the UNAM campus. It’s a fabulous and inexpensive Mexican restaurant, worth the schlep down there. And they serve the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. His secret Oaxacan blend includes 30% almonds. Churros are gilding the lily; the chocolate should be drunk solo.

--- Nicholas Gilman

---> For the archive of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts, click here.

P.S. Check put Nicholas Gilman's blog at: Also, he offers an extensive glossary of Mexican culinary terms on his website.