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Füd Report from Mexico
By Magistrate Louise



Peoples, is it bang for your buck you're seeking? Oh, you say it is, but how far will you really go to stuff yourself silly for pennies? To that Vietnamese place in the Sunset? Don't make me laugh. Think out of the box, think over the border, think centavos, not cents. For mind-boggling food value, nothing -- but nothing -- beats México.

Gourd GuyYou can feast on the cheap simply by wandering the streets here. It's a cavalcade of sabores (flavors). Men in the park offer mysterious fruit drinks from big gourds. A truck full of coconuts backs up to the sidewalk and the husks fly. Stout women in doorways fry tasty tidbits in cauldrons of oil, then position them temptingly on carefully propped up plates. They might be filled with requeson (a cheese mixture), beans, some sort of meat -- who cares? They're good, and there is an infinite variety, some which sound familiar (quesadillas), and some which don't (sincronizadas). Oh, the exquisite pleasure of learning their names!

If you are quailing in fear at the thought of fried food, perhaps you should skip México. You don't have to eat fried food here, but, well, you ought to! 'Cause it's good! You can always clear your palette with a bag of fresh jicama or cucumber or papaya doused with lime and dusted with chili powder.

AvocadosAt the market, get avocados. Some for today, and some for tomorrow, too, because after you have them once, you gotta have them every single day. They are perfect, pure and simple. Cut them open and behold the most flawless and creamy avocado-y goodness you've ever seen, a color that ranges from buttery yellow to a green that seems lit from within, and bears no similarity whatsoever to a generation's worth of refrigerators and dishwashers erroneously labeled "avocado." It's possible to pass several days eating little else -- believe me.

Pollo Asado, al Carbon. That's chicken grilled over charcoal. Oh, sounds kinda boring, does it? I pity you, fool. You haven't had the pollo asado that I've had, from the shack by the Bahia de Santiago traffic light.

Chicken Guy You tell the guy, "un pollo, para llevar" (one chicken to go), and then you wait and dodge the shifting smoke while he sizes you up and selects the proper bird. The chickens are flattened out and grilled all in one piece -- butterflied and skewered, I suppose you BBQ experts would say. He flips them and prods judiciously. Juices drip and sizzle on the hot coals. All this takes a few minutes, but he is an artist -- be patient and let him work. The whole operation is positioned several feet above the sidewalk, on a concrete landing, so the chickens are cooking at eye level and your man looms several feet above them, appearing somewhat godlike through the smoke. He slaps your chicken down on a big butcher block and chops it into pieces. He notices your mouth watering and you say, smells good! He nods, unimpressed by this mundane observation -- of course it smells good! But the next thing you know he's shoving a sizable prueba (sample) your way, since you do seem to appreciate good cooking. He packs the chicken in a bag along with -- get this -- about 2 dozen tortillas, rice, tasty looking hot sauce in a plastic bag, and a handful of limes. You pay the man: 40 pesos.

You eat the sample on the way back to the hotel and begin to walk faster, despite the hot sun and the hefty chicken.

Little Piece of HeavenLay the food out all nice, preferably on a balcony overlooking the beach and facing westward so you can appreciate how gorgeous that chicken looks bathed in the pink light of sunset. Some parts crispy from the rigorous grilling, other pieces juicy and succulent, all of it looking and smelling muy riquisimo (exceptionally tasty).

And it is, oh it is. It has been basted with something subtle yet essential, something salty and faintly spicy, something that elevates this bird to such heavenly heights that it seems incredible it's called simply, "grilled chicken." The rice ain't bad, and the tortillas are fine, but it's that chicken you just can't stop eating. If you can slow down for a second, wrap some de-boned pieces up in a tortilla with a glob of guacamole (whipped up from the avos and the limes) and a spoonful of that hot sauce, and savor your little piece of heaven. Total cost for the meal, including rum drinks: $US 12.11. And if you are splitting it at least two ways (you better, you little piglet), you're talking about 6 bucks. I rest my case.

Prices based on current exchange rate of 9.55 pesos per U.S. dollar.



Contact Magistrate Louise at





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