I figured a good way to kick of my Mexico travel-log was through the food. Everyone likes food right? (I mean... how do you think I convinced Charlie like me. Cookie bribes!)
Mérida, or the Yucatán in general, is well known for their food. Early on in our trip, we took the responsibility of specifically trying several tacos, so that we could find the best ones. Our Mama and Papa helped us kick off our search the first Saturday here.
The following Monday we stuck hopped on the bus to la playa progresso to beach it up! Being the very authentic and non-gringas that we are, we decided to ditch the main street and go off trail to find a real, hole-in-the-wall, sketchy and should-we-really-be-eating-here, taco spot. We were very determined to find the best spot...at least for 20 minutes until the blistering sun got to us.
Anyhow, back to tacos. Sum up: we had tacos de puerco. The pork was good, and the little cute lady who made them was darling and very excited to have us there. They did come on flour tortillas though, and I really struggle with that. If it ain't corn, it ain't Mexican. Over all, we were pretty pleased at our little adventure, and we felt pretty darn authentic. but.......
Score of Tacos de Progress: 5
The following Tuesday our beach tacos were put to shame. Some of the members of the church had invited us to help clean the church, which we gladly agreed too. We may have possibly gotten in a huge water ballon fight. One of the other gals, Montse, and I filled a huge garbage can full of water and dumped on the muchachos who were trying to terrorize us chicas with water-balloons...and we may have accidentally gotten the bishop a little bit, but just a little!
Anyhow, afterwards Emilio, who we have deemed our big brother here treated us to some REAL tacos. He introduced us to the legendary TACOS AL PASTOR. Now I've had Tacos al Pastor...at least I thought I'd had. (Negative ghost rider). Real tacos al pastor have pineapple. The meat is cooked on this huge skewer that spins around so that the fire can reach all of the meat, and it's covered with a red condiment traditional to this area.
Needless to say, they were bomb. It was perfect, and savory. We went to the restaurant Mixte, which there are several of them here in Merida, but this one is apparently the best according to our taco-specialist Emilio.
Tacos al pastor at Mixte: 9.5
They get a 9.5 because I'm not sure if it was just the fact that it was my first real, taco al pastor, or if they were just chevere that night (awesome), but I've not had a taco al pastor that good since that night. I mean you can never go wrong with a taco al pastor, but the was the best of the best.
|Emilio! Our Taco guide|
Tacos Arabe at street cart: 9.
I only gave them a 9 just because I'm pretty attached to your more traditional Mexican tacos. But the garlic sauce stuff totally made up for it.
|little cart to the side of the road|
The next place I had tacos al pastor was at Los Trompos. It's a little more americanized, and much less sketchy, but still good. We went there after the temple one night with Montse from the ward here, and then again for Jordan's (one of the gals in the group) birthday. One time when we went Jeanice got a taco de bistec, which in my opinion tasted a lot better than their tacos al pastor. So if you go Trompos, go bistec.
Tacos de Los Trompos: 7.
|Girls night out after the Temple at Los Trompos in the Gran Plaza|
|Celebrating Jordan's Birthday with the group! There are 14 students+ Profe Brian's cute family!|
They were great, not amazing. Part of it is the environment and it just didn't feel sketchy enough to me. It's a great place to start your taco tour here in Mérida, but I'd leave it at that.
|At La Playa Carmen! I have a really funny tan-line from that cover-up|
Last Friday we drove four hours to Tulum, which has some beautiful mayan sites (I will be writing a post about those sites next!) After touring the ruins for a while, we went to another beach: La Playa Carmen. It's a much more tourist spot than la Playa Progresso, and so it had a lot more shops and things. The water is considered part of the Caribbean, and it was beautiful!
|Me, Ellora, Olivia, and Whitney waiting for our tacos!|
We walked around the shops for a while trying to find some cool shoes, and a good spot for tacos. One guy saw us looking around like confused gringas, so he pointed us in the right direction to Los Fabulosos. And...the tacos were pretty fabulous.
Maybe because I was really hungry by this point, but our Tacos Al Pastor were really good! Our waiter was great. He made sure we knew which salsa was spicy. As he walked away, we each reached for the spiciest one, and he ran back in a panic. After we explained that we knew what it was, he calmed down. It wasn't actually that spicy. My tongue is de-gringfying!
Socre of Los Fabulosos: 8.5
Up next: we went to three restaurants in one night for Family Home Evening. (FHE is a night that we set aside in the church to spend time as a family. Typically, it's a Monday night. While here in Mexico, our little group of 14 students and the professors family is our FHE group). Now that's a taco tour!!!
The first place we went was Caciques. This place wins for the best onions. I'm a sucked for sauted onions, and they had a whole bowl sitting right in front of me! I also liked their salsa the best.
|Ellora, Olivia, Me, and Connor each with our waiter's number. F.L.I.R.T|
The traditional salsa of this area is made from Habaneros. Now can be some hot stuff. The first time here my Mama passed me the chile, and warned me to only cut a little. I held it between my hands as I cut, which totally freaked her out. She made sure I didn't touch my face or eyes and that I washed my hands right away, because if I did, I could really burn myself. As I ate my food, the little lead thick piece I cut made me start to cry, and I downed 8 glasses of water right in a row. Even after eating some cream later, I could still feel the burn on my lips. That's just a hint of how hot this stuff is. The cool thing is that I'm getting to the point where the heat doesn't bother me so much and I can actually taste the flavor of the salsa (I'm pretty proud of myself. Jalapeños are like candy!)
|Jeanice, Olivia, and I at the round-about on Paseo Montejo (the street with all these tacos!)|
Anyhow, back to the tacos de Caciques. I had a taco de bistec, and it was good, but nothing extraordinary.
Tacos de C: 7.5, because the onions and salsa were really good!
Next stop was Tacos Payasos, with some suppossedly famous taquitos. I had a taco al pastor there. The taco itself was good but again nothin extra-ordinary, and the condiments were lacking. However, the service was very notable.
I told our waiter that we were ready to order and he winked at me and said he'd be right there. After ordering our tacos I requested that our tacos al pastor have a lot of meat and a lot of pineapple, which just made him bust up. This guy was obviously a flirt, and as we thanked him for bringing our food, he said we didn't need thank him, we just needed to give him our numbers. He then proceeded to bring out a pad of paper accompanied by a pen, so there was to be no confusion. I'd tried slyly letting my ring shine as I brushed back my hair several times by this point, but to no avail. So as to avoid further problems, I showed him my hand and very clearly explained that I was engaged. "Yo también!" he said (me too!). He then whipped out his phone and showed us pictures of his little baby. I tried to further explain that I really couldn't give him my number, when he interrupted that we weren't going to be "novios", just go dancing!
Olivia, Ellora, Conner, and I decided instead we would each draw a picture of a happy little family on the pad of paper he had given us. He figured it out pretty quickly, so he wrote his number on the paper, and each gave us a copy..even Conner :)
Yeah... we scarfed down our tacos and booked it out before we busted up.
Score of Tacos Payasos: 7.5
Last of the night was Taquitos de PM. Personally, this was my favorite of the night. By this point I had eated 2 tacos and I wasn't really hungry, but if a place brings out chips and bean dip, I'm a happy camper. I'm sure that is a very American thing to do, but I really enjoy it! They also had this quacamole sauce, which was bomb. The environment was great, the service was kind and un-flirtatious, and it had a the best bathroom I've seen here other than the ones at the Temple. The tacos itself, our Professor said were the best tacos al pastor of the night.
Score of Taquitos de PM : 9!
Defiantly some good stuff.
|Our Mexican Big Brother Emilio!|
Tonight Emilio is going to swing by again to pick us up again for more taco hunting...so I'm going to be adding to this soon. Stay tuned for more taco adventures!...
So yesterday, Emilio took us to try some tacos de carnitas del Michoacán, which is another state in Mexico. They were awesome! This guy has the best little taco spots pinned down. I really appreciated these because they weren't quite as greasy. We ate them with napal (cactus) and some yummy salsa. Of course, if you are going to get real authentic, you MUST drink it with coco-cola. That, is a requirement.
|They cook all the meat in this big pot. You can request different parts... careful lol|
|Me, Olivia, and Jeanice outisde of the little taco cart|
|How Marquesitas are made!|
So we had marquesitas which is like a cross between a crep and a waffle cone, that they fill with this sharp cheese. The cheese is the base, and then you choose your other topping. We all chose Nutella. Yeah, sharp cheese and Nutella sounds weird....but it's waaay good. Seriously, I was a pretty happy girl. Charlie wasn't around, so I kissed a statue instead.
Overall: The food is awesome here, but so is everything else (other than the heat). I really enjoy how we get to know the people and their culture. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here. My spanish has improved a lot, and I've fallen in love with the region. The Yucatan culture is so kind and inviting: su casa really is tu casa here. What a wonderful place! I can't believe I've already been here 5 weeks. I just need my family and friends here and it would be heaven on earth.
I hope y'all enjoyed reading a little bit about some of my adventures. Stay tuned!
Love y'alls guts!