If you’ve never been to Mexico City, you probably have an idea of what it’s like.
Unless, that is, your notion is that it is a vibrant metropolitan city with wonderful, green city parks and lushly landscaped pedestrian boulevards; that it has rich historical sites and museums; and has world-class restaurants with creative cuisine served next to traditional fare. Some of that fare might frighten you — ant larvae, anyone? But I’ll get back to that.
Food is everywhere you walk in Mexico City, sometimes frustratingly so. Where pop-up restaurants are trendy in the U.S., they’re prevalent, everyday occurrences in Mexico. Walk down the street and you’ll see slap-dashed setups of tables, plastic stools, maybe a tarp overhead, and the all-important griddle. There’s likely to be a tortilla press where the balls of dough, pulled from a mound in a crockery bowl, are flattened to be tossed on the hot surface. If properly made with good corn, the tortillas poof up while they heat and then collapse when done. There might also be a stockpot simmering with menudo, and there will certainly be pans filled with meats and rice.
The frustrating part is that you can’t have any of this food. Not unless you live in Mexico or you’ve spent enough time in the country to inure your digestive system to the native food. “Don’t drink the water” is a cliche to be heeded, but you should also avoid street food.