Lauren is a Brooklyn native whose culinary interests include strong bourbon and street food. You can find her in her tiny Crown Heights kitchen tackling cooking projects that are far too large and messy to be contained within it.
Restaurant menus can reveal a lot about a country’s cuisine, but there’s a more authentic place to find the true building blocks of local food: in home kitchens. We turned to three passionate Mexico City eaters and peeked inside their cupboards to find out which ingredients they have on hand at all times. Here’s what they had to say. Yes, we know — you have vanilla in your pantry, too, but we’re we’re talking about the good Mexican stuff.
For avid cooks, the pleasures of travel include not just eating out, but also experimenting with local ingredients by cooking at home. That’s why we’re such big fans of staying in vacation rentals, which allow us to break out the pots and pans whenever we want.
Mexico City is one of the most exciting places to eat; to the uninitiated, it’s also one of the most intimidating. With more than 350 colonias (or metropolitan neighborhoods), 21 million inhabitants, and countless taco stands vying for your attention, it’s not easy to know where to begin. But don’t be deterred. The key is to start small; focus your culinary adventures to one colonia and one colonia only while you get your bearings. So, where to begin? Read on to find out.
Few cities are as compulsively photographable as Mexico’s capital. In this sprawling metropolis of 21 million souls, a hodgepodge of architectural styles, bustling street scenes, and the riotous colors of everything from fruit vendors’ displays to the city’s impressive assortment of old-school vans all call out for a moment in front of the lens. But Mexico City’s most photo-friendly feature is undoubtedly its food.
Like most other Instagram addicts, I use the hugely popular photo-sharing app to not-so-humbly brag about my kitchen creations, devour videos of friends’ adorable pets, and spy on exes. But my favorite use for Instagram is one you might not immediately think of: as a travel guide.
Even as an ardent home cook who produces more than her fair share of crusted casseroles and sticky sauté pans, I’ve never minded washing up — in fact, I find it kind of zen. When I’m at home, that is. Because every single time I offer to wash a friend’s dishes, I’m tripped up by the absence of what I view as essential as a sharp knife: a sturdy pair of dishwashing gloves.
When it comes to socializing, dinner parties have always been my favorite way to catch up with friends. Over good wine and good food, everyone relaxes and the stories — and jokes — come tumbling out. I like to host dinner parties as often as I can, and since I lead a busy life, I discovered long ago that there’s only one way for me to hold true to being a frequent hostess.
If you’re like me and spend more time than you should browsing food blogs and recipe sites, you’ve probably noticed the plethora of seasonal posts out there. You know the ones I mean — the ones that breathlessly extoll the freshness, versatility, and intense flavor of the produce available in the markets right now: Sweet blueberries! Juicy tomatoes! Meaty eggplants!
Now that summer is here, it’s a struggle to remember a few months back to winter, with its short days and long, punishingly cold nights. But lately, as my refrigerator bulges with all the delicious spoils of my CSA share and the plants in my small city garden plot groan under the weight of their fruits and vegetables, I’ve been thinking of the months when my larders weren’t quite as full. Normally a creative and inspired home cook, I found myself utterly lacking in ideas.
I’ve always liked being by myself. While some might say that I’m a loner, I prefer the more charitable term “independent.” A lifelong resident of cacophonous New York, I relish the city’s quiet spaces: a cool, dark movie theater in the middle of the day; the beach on a hot summer afternoon; the corner table at my local cafe at the beginning of the dinner shift, before the crowds fill the restaurant with the buzz of their excited conversations.
Typically, we think of digestifs — those complex, often-bitter herbal liqueurs sipped after a meal as a digestive aid — as a cold-weather indulgence. After all, it’s during the long, frigid winter months that we tend to overindulge on the food front, taking an extra portion of hearty stew or digging into a warm apple crumble, both to heat ourselves up as well as to bring some gastronomic comfort during this SAD-inducing season.
At the heart of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday that runs from May 15 to June 14, is a powerful dichotomy: During the daylight hours, adherents steadfastly avoid consuming all food and drink, while at dusk, they indulge in extra-special, bountiful meals; feasts prepared without the benefit of tasting along the way.
Growing up in New York in the ’90s, I was frequently compared to another brash, sarcastic (I prefer the term “witty”) native with crazy curly hair: Elaine Benes of Seinfeld fame. Sure, I was outspoken, and yeah, I could be known to crack a joke or two, but even as a 12-year-old I had my life together better than Elaine — and I could sure as hell dance better than she could. So I laughed off the comparison.
In the summer, we’re all about salads. They’re simple to throw together and make the most of seasonal produce, and, in most cases, you don’t have to turn on your oven. You can also bulk them up with grains, nuts, cheese, and other extras to make them into a filling, but not too filling, meal. Basically, they’re perfect. And those perfect summer salads call for a perfect bowl — one that’s much bigger than you might think necessary.
Over the past year, I’ve taken three trips to Mexico’s vibrant, chaotic capital city. My reasons for such frequent peregrinations can basically be boiled down to one ultra-compelling factor: the food. And while you can certainly dine well in fancy establishments, street food is an essential part of any visit to CDMX.
A couple of years ago, I was in dire need of a vacation and impulsively booked a trip to Mexico City. I spent a leisurely 10 days stalking its streets, barreling through its subway tunnels, and eating as many types of its ridiculously fresh, impeccably prepared street foods as my stomach could handle. With so many days spent in just one place, I felt I was truly able to get to know the city, its flavors, and its people, including one in particular.
On Tuesday, September 19 at around 1:15 p.m., a 7.1-magnitude earthquake originating in the Mexican state of Puebla rattled Mexico City, with devastating consequences: at least 44 buildings collapsed and nearly 300 people perished. This earthquake was notable for its destruction, but what stands out more is the incredible resilience of the city’s inhabitants. In the minutes, hours, and days after the event, the city rallied together.