One of the most important parts of any new living situation is the comida (food). There are a lot of things I like about the food here, and there are things I really really dislike. Here, though, are a few of my thoughts on comida.
The Mexican eating schedule is very different from the American schedule. You eat a little desayuno (breakfast), like oatmeal, before school, then almuerzo (lunch/brunch) is at 10:00 AM. Comida (lunch/dinner) is at 3:00 PM, then cena (dinner) is at 8:00 PM. I eat almuerzo and comida on the base in the comedor (dining room), which is served cafeteria style to everyone who works and learns at the base. Some days the food is better than others—Mondays are the worst because there aren’t many people on the base so sometimes they just serve leftover tortillas covered in watery beans, which is not my favorite meal. Then, there are days where they serve shrimp soup, with a rich and delicious stock that might convince you that you’re at a fancy restaurant. That makes up for hot dog soup days. Yes, hot dog soup.
The best restaurant in Cacalote is Maria’s taco stand. The tacos are simple: just barbacoa (“barbecued”meat) and tortilla, fried. Each taco is only 6 pesos, and an order of tacos comes with a roasted cebolla (onion). The salsa verde is delicious and insanely spicy, to the point where the comment was made, “Hey Sarah, did you know that your lips get bright red when you eat spicy food?” Well, if I didn’t know before, I know now! Also, when I say it’s the best restaurant in Cacalote, it’s the only restaurant that isn’t a bar that is open every night. There’s a family who makes tlayudas (Oaxacan quesadillas) some weekends, but that’s about the only other option. Fortunately, Maria’s tacos are the best.
Those who know me well know I don’t like milk. I can’t remember ever drinking a glass, because I find it disgusting. The texture, the taste, everything. Chocolate milk on the other hand, is delicious. And I can get chocolate milk in a box anytime I want. It’s delicious, but there’s never enough in the box.
Another great Mexican snacky is galletas (cookies). Sharing a package of galletas around the lunch table is a common pastime. Triki-Trakes, Empreadors, Maravillas, and Marias are just a few of the tasty options. Healthy? Not at all. Tasty and delicious? Yes.
A great thing about living near the Pacific Ocean, as I do, is that there are a lot of dishes that include seafood. One of my favorites dishes when I’m out at a restaurant in a nearby town, is shrimp cocktail. Yes, it is as delicious as it looks.
Watchers of PBS may know of a show called Mexico One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless. Last season, he traveled throughout the state of Oaxaca, enjoying plates of Mexican cuisine and then showing viewers how to make similar dishes. One episode is set in Puerto Escondido and Huatulco, Puerto being the closest “big city” to little Cacalote. This spring in America, my family watched this episode and I was enamored with a dish called encamoranadas (shrimped things), which are basically shrimp tacos. So, when I found myself at Playa Carrizalillo I had to try these shrimp tacos. I split them with my roommate Cassie (in Spanish, her name sounds like the word “casi,” which means almost, so sometimes we call her Almost) AND THEY WERE AMAZING. They were Mexican expensive (100 pesos, which is about $9) because we were at a tourist beach, but it was worth every peso.
I’m excited to see what else I will eat in my next two months here in southern Mexico!