Taco Count Update: 995

Playing tour guide yesterday brought the opportunity to hop around the various taco haunts in my neighborhood.

  • 3 tacos de guisado from the Chilpancingo food stalls.  The quality here can vary a bit and, on this day, none of these blew me away… though the chicken taco with french fries and grilled onions had its moment.
  • 4 tacos at El Mirador, a cantina by Bosque Chapultepec… Argentine sausage, guacamole, and refried black beans on handmade tortillas.  Oh yeah!
  • Lastly, 3 late-night gringas (similar to al pastor tacos with cheese) from El Tizoncito, a popular spot for high-end taco consumption in La Condesa.

The count so far: 995.

 

México, D.F.

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More Graffiti As Art in Mexico

Before the time of the AH1N1 paros, or work stoppages, I had started a series on public art in Mexico.  A prior post had shown some pictures of graffiti in Oaxaca, and here are some from other cities.  This one with the angry pig and his small elephant friend is my favorite….

Clearly a case of influenza.

Clearly a case of influenza.

Here are a few others (of many), that rock, too.  In comparison to the pictures from Oaxaca, this form of public art from other parts of Mexico seems to offer less overt messages, but it’s probably way too small a sample to draw a formal conclusion.

 

México, D.F.

The Coffee Shops of Escandón

There are a surprising number of coffee shops in Escandón, the neighborhood where I live in Mexico City.  Unlike the more posh La Condesa just to the north, Escandón is noted for being a more traditional colonia, with blue collar Mexican families and retired couples, not hordes of escapist ex-pats.  It seems strange to me, then, that there would be so many coffee shops here — by last count, eight within four blocks of my house.

Most notably, not a single one of the shops in Escandón is a multi-national like Starbucks, or even a local chain; each is run by an entrepreneur… a small family, a local businessman, or a woman starting what may be her first enterprise.  There’s Mami, which has excellent cookies and free wireless; the brightly lit Libre de Stress; Tempo di Cafe, my usual haunt; the more health food-oriented Deliciosa; and a variety of others, some very small, and others, large and with rooms full of art and open patios.  If you like, check out the interactive map on the tab above to find them.

In general, coffee shop culture in Mexico City is limited to only the wealthiest parts of the city, with ubiquitous the Starbucks (and local chains like the Italian Coffee Co. and Punta del Cielo) occupying prized corners and mall spaces in Polanco, La Condesa, Las Lomas.  Coffee shops also tend to be part of the status image sought by Mexico’s elite, with customers at a crowded Starbucks happily paying prices that (until recently) were higher than those in the U.S., even if a nearly identical local chain next door offers cheaper coffee drinks and plenty of open seating.  This, then, is a sharp contrast to the culture of independent shops emerging in working class Escandón.  Of course, I have never seen any of those here crowded, or even close to it.  

Perhaps these coffee shops are a sign of change in Escandón, an indication of a things to come, of Mexican gentrification, with more people seeking to be near La Condesa, but without the huge premiums on rents.  It may be that these entrepreneurs are at the edge of the new market, or on the verge of creating a new one, though with few people, at least so far, to realize these unique little treasures. 

 

México, D.F.

To paint a room

I have a love-hate relationship with new apartments.  Not the ‘new’ as in ‘new construction’, but more like just, well, ‘new-to-me’.  For example, the apartment I just moved into was built in 1952… the locals seems to refer to such buildings as being “earthquake-proof”.  I really hope they just have a perverse appreciation for irony!

I love ‘new’ apartments because moving is like an expedition… everything is new and fresh, from the local neighborhood haunts to the way the 56-year old floor boards creak.  This ‘new’ apartment is on the second floor of a 4-story, 8-unit building on Avenida Progreso, in Colonia Escandón (zoom in on the map below), a mix of blue collar families and ex-pats (como yo) too cheap to pay for the trendier digs one and a half blocks north in La Condesa.  So it’s close to the strips of buotique-y bars and clubs, for an occasional excursion, but surrounded by little markets and garage-door restaurants, full of people on first-name-bases.  If you know the kind of neighborhoods I like… then you know I’m in heaven. 

But living in a new apartment, any new space, really, always leaves me feeling a little wanting for the familiarity of previous comforts.  It makes me feel so… soooo… like I’m intruding on some other life.  Like I don’t really belong.  And being in a foreign culture… well, doesn’t help!

So to help the transition, I though it might be nice to paint my room.  In part, it’s because I’ve always wanted to paint my room, but never quite had the ___________…. opportunity?  But more so, in that it always makes me feel more at home if I invest some time and effort in changing things to suit… even if only a little.  When I moved into my last apartment, I rearranged the living room.  I don’t know if the new arrangement was any better, but it made me feel as if it was ‘my arrangement’ and, thus, my apartment.

So a-painting I will go!  The paint store just down the street (it’s the colonia!) has one of the custom paint color systems.  So what color should I choose?

 

Avenida Progreso, México, D.F.