Let’s talk about FOOD!
I would like to use the opportunity and tell you guys a little bit more about the Mexican kitchen. All of the host moms in the program cook excellent! Mexican mothers put a lot of time, work, and love into buying fresh ingredients and fixing up a delicious meal for their family.
In my host family I have never eaten any fast food products and I’ve also never encountered any problems with finding vegetarian food options.
When you arrive in Mexico and say you’re a vegetarian most people won’t understand your life choice. If you tell them “No como carne, soy vegeteriana”, they will most certainly get back to you with the following answer “Ni pollo? Ni jamón?” Most Mexicans consider meat an important part of their dietary and they cannot imagine that you simply decide not to eat meat (of course you will also find Mexican vegetarians once in a while but I have to admit that it’s rather rare). You have to be very specific and let them know that you don’t eat any meat, nor chicken, nor seafood. Best is if you say you don’t eat anything dead.
Apart from that confusion that most Mexicans experience about a vegetarian, there ARE a lot of amazing food options out there. Mexico is known to have one of the best kitchens in the world. I’ve heard somewhere that supposingly it has the No.1 kitchen in the world (but I’m sure all the Italians and French out there might not agree with that :D). I would certainly believe it though just by looking at the numerous sauces that spice up very simple meals in so many different ways.
The Mexican kitchen never gets boring. My host mom sometimes spends hours on the Internet looking for new recipes to serve me, and once she finds one, she tries it out immediately and sits in front of me, nervous about hearing what I have to say. We almost always talk about healthy food at the dinner table and it seems to be very important to her that she offers me healthy food that I like.
I really appreciate all the effort she puts into feeding me.
In the following I will show you some delicious Mexican dishes that she has prepared for me.
Flautas: Are delicious corn tortillas that you fry in oil to make them really crispy. You can fill them with chicken, but as a vegetarian I prefer eating them filled with potatoes. On top you put some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado and a kind of cheese called queso fresco. You can add some delicious salsa and on the side serve a bowl of beans to dip the flautas in. Definitely one of my favorites!
Molletes: Molletes are crunchy bread rolls (pan francés, bolillo) topped with a layer of bean cream. You put cheese on top, and if you’re not vegetarian you can as well add some ham. For the final touch you should add some slices of avocado and a lot of delicious Mexican homemade sauce. Love this plate!
Tostadas: A crispy flat tortilla with a bean cream on top. You can add pieces of chicken if you like, but for the vegetarians it tastes amazing also without the chicken (that leaves more space for the fresh vegetables that you can add). Put lettuce, onion, tomatoes, queso fresco and avocado and as always don’t forget the sauce (I feel like that’s one of the most important ingredients because pretty much every Mexican plate comes with sauce. It doesn’t always have to be spicy, but I love it that way. My Mexican friends would always tell me: It has to swim in sauce, then it’s right and Mexican! A little sidenote here: With all that sauce your hands and your plate are going to be very messy, but in Mexico they say that it’s not Mexican if it’s not messy! )
Tamales: Tamales are an indigenous plate that consists of a masa of corn filled with either meat or vegetables (e.g. rajas). They are wrapped into a banana or corn leaf and cooked in hot water or hot water vapor. As always add a lot of beans and sauce and you’ll have a delicious meal!
Panuchos: Are very Yucatecan and I’m sure there is probably no one who leaves Yucatan without having tried them. They are crispy, fried tortillas stuffed with a thick layer of black beans and topped with pretty much the same things the other dishes come with – lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado, sauce… (and of course if you are not vegetarian you can add chicken or turkey pieces). Even though the meals all are very simple and consist of similar ingredients, every plate is unique and extremely delicious. The Tex-Mex food I’ve had in Texas is good, but once you’re in Mérida you will taste the real deal!
Those are some of my favorite meals that you can easily prepare without meat and still maintain the delicious taste. So if you’re a vegetarian, don’t worry! In any restaurant you can always ask to remove the meat and instead use potatoes or cheese