In March of 2011 I went to Cancun with my parents to get over a very difficult breakup and to treat myself to a nice vacation before having to take my senior year 2nd semester finals and graduate. It’s unfortunate that in those days I wasn’t feeling well enough to write about the food I was tasting. Nevertheless, some gems remained on my palate and my hard-drive. Here they are.
Next time you’re in Cancun, put down the mojito and take the local bus from the hotel complex into town. Brilliant little holes in the wall with expert Mayan chef ladies making truly authentic quesadillas await you. Soft, slightly gummy corn tortillas (the corn hand-crushed, the tortilla hand-pressed) filled with all sorts of delicious, juicy ingredients: grilled peppers, corn, tinga chicken, chicharron (pork rinds, my favorite), even grilled fish. Outside of the occasional California food truck, you won’t find anything near this in the States.
This last one is a huarache. Thick corn masa in an oblong shape (similar to a sandal, actually), topped with lettuce, shredded beep, queso fresco and sour cream. Delicious!
A short boat ride away from Cancun is an island called Isla de Mujeres. It’s not too interesting, a nice walk around and a pretty harbor pretty much summarizes the place. Backpackers tend to overrun one of the beaches during the summer and set up tents to camp out in. Seafood there is pretty fantastic though and no matter which restaurant you stumble into, you get quality probably every time. The photo above is of a beautiful grilled fish topped with sauteed onions and peppers in a red chili sauce. It was served, like many other grilled dishes in Mexico tend to be, with plenty of mushy black beans and rice.
A mixed ceviche of shrimps, fish chunks and conch followed. Plenty of chopped tomatoes and onions made the thing even fresher and lighter, on a hot summer day. The lime juice cooked the proteins sufficiently until they were tender and juicy and the acidity brought out the sweetness of the seafood.
Delicious, light conch soup. Chewy, tender bits of conch in a light, tomato-lime broth with plenty of onions and tomato mixed in.
The famous michelada. Beer mixed with lime juice, Clamato (a blend of tomato and clam juice), a bit of hot sauce, some spices and black pepper. The glass is rimmed with a mixture of salt and cayenne pepper.
Mole con pollo with black beans and rice. A juicy chicken breast, skin and all topped with a red mole, very complex in flavor, made of a blend of chili peppers (ancho, pasilla and chipotle), tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, sesame seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, and a few more ingredients.