12-cent tacos

Mexico specializes in many things, but nothing may be better than then promotion, especially when it comes to cheap eats.  These tacos in Jalapa work out to a nearly-infinitesimal 1.5 pesos each… about 12 cents.  Oh my!  (They were so-so.)

10 tacos al pastor for the grand price of 15 pesos... less than a buck-twenty.

10 tacos al pastor for the grand price of 15 pesos... less than a buck-twenty.

The record for cheapest taco (that I’ve seen) is 1 peso, albeit for a pre-made taco de canasta at La Merced, here in the D.F.

 

México, D.F.

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Steak Tacos on the Cheap

On occasion, I take the metrobús home from ITAM and, when I do, I often pass by a park-side shack that sells steak tacos (map).  These tacos may be described as steak-and-cheese gifts from heaven, with thin sheetlets of grilled beef, melted queso oaxaqueño, warm corn tortillas, and creative salsas with cucumber, pineapple, radish, and something that might be jicama.  And although there are some upscale joints that do mighty-fine steak tacos, too, at 10 pesos apiece, about 70 cents, those here cost less than a fifth of the ones in La Condesa.

Steak and cheese tacos with salsa

Steak and cheese tacos with salsa

Granted, this little changarro may not be for the faint-of-stomach, as there’s not much in the way of refrigeration or seating (or running water); though, unlike most resorts in Mexico, you can watch the head chef and boss cook up some lovin’ on the grill right in front of you.  And the food will taste better here, too.

From the box to the grill to the plate to your mouth

Steak: From the box to the grill to the plate to your mouth

 

México, D.F.

Quest for 1000 tacos

A key staple of the Mexican culinary street scene is the taco.  A corn (or, sometimes, flour) tortilla stuffed with most anything; cactus, steak, tripe, cesos (brains!), etc.  The most popular type is al pastor, which is pork meat roasted on a vertical spit, akin to a kebab.  The roasted meat from the outer part is sliced off, and layered in a tortilla with onion, cilantro, and a small piece of grilled pineapple.  Al pastor tacos are often made small, like dollar-sized pancakes, costing a few pesos each.  The cheapest I’ve found so far is a 2 pesos-a-taco joint over by el ITAM.  For those keeping score, that’s 6 tacos to the dollar!

I’ve decided to keep a record of how many tacos I consume this year…. and, hey, if I’m lucky (or not), maybe I’ll notch a full 1000.  The total so far?  55.

 

México, D.F.

Soup recipe

So one of the things I hope to do on this blog is to record some of the better eats I find in Mexico, in restaurants, changarros, or, in this case the ‘accidents’ that get conjured up in my kitchen!

Last week I blew way too much money (wedding, conference in DC, painting supplies, etc.) and am trying to get my budget back on track.  This recipe for soup is, well, very Mexican, and about as cheap as it comes!  At many of the markets in Mexico City, as well as at little vegetable vendors on the street, it’s possible to buy freshly-diced, shrink-wrapped packets of soup-ready vegetables.  Cost?  5-6 pesos for a large one, or about 50 cents!  Of course, you never know exactly what you’re going to get!

 

Simple Mexican Vegetable Soup Recipe

1 large packet of pre-cut ‘Mexican market’ veggies  (Carrots, celery, cabbage, little odds and ends)

1 small handful of dry lentils (< 1/4 of a cup) [optional]

1 large pinch garlic salt

1 tablespoon chicken-flavor seasoning

1 teaspoon cooking oil

1 heaping teaspoon dry dill (eneldo)

fresh corn tortillas, just because you can [optional]

 

1.  Add the salt, chicken stock mix, oil, and lentils to a medium-sized stock pot.  Cover with 1″ of water and simmer 10-20 minutes.  You can snack on the warm tortillas while you wait.  If you omit the lentils (which really stretch the soup), then there’s no need to simmer for the 10-20 minutes.

2.  Add vegetables and dill, add a cup or two of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10-20 minutes.  Cooking time and amount of water added can vary to your tastes.

3.  Serve.  This actually makes quite a lot, enough for dinner for two people.  (Call it four sizable servings)

 

But the best part of this soup is what you can do with the leftovers.  Corn tortillas are awesome when warm and fresh and awful if you leave them out overnight!  (oops!)  

 

Even Simpler Mexican Soup Recipe

Leftover vegetable soup

Dry, day+ old corn tortillas (2-3 per serving of leftover soup)

Salt to taste 

 

1. Take the cold leftover soup, add 2-3 tortillas dry tortillas per serving directly to the pot.  Cover with water (about a cup), bring to a boil, and simmer 5-10 minutes or so, or until the tortillas break apart easily.

2. With a fork, stir the soup.  The tortillas should break apart easily.  Add more water, to your liking, and then add salt to taste.  Carefull — this can get thick in a hurry!  

3.  Bring back to a boil then immediately remove from heat and serve.  Garnish with more dill and crema.  Adding the tortillas roughly doubles the number of servings that were originally leftover.

 

México, D.F.