Tag Archives: lunch

Lunch at the San Juan Market, Mexico City

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My lunch at La Jersey, Mercado de San Juan, Mexico City

San Juan Market is where many of Mexico City’s top chefs shop.  It is known for its exotic meats, fish, fruits and vegetables.  It’s where I buy vanilla beans for $1.50 USD each to bring back as gifts to the USA.  I made my way there from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, past architectural wonders of the city.

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Once I got there and started looking at the food, I realized I was hungry.  Then, I noticed a large group of people gathered around one of the stalls.  La Jersey has been there for over 85 years.  Out from behind the counter came baguettes of crusty French bread filled with layers of exotic, European cheeses and Italian meats.

Three young men, who introduced themselves as lawyers on lunch break, were sitting on stools biting into hefty sandwiches and sipping good red Spanish table wine from small tasting cups. The wine comes gratis with the lunch.  They beckoned me over, offered me the empty seat next to

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them, showed me the menu and recommended what they considered to be the best sandwich filled with prosciutto, salami, and a rich, smooth German cheese. Order Number 3, they said.  A cuarto (that’s a quarter sandwich).  When it came, it looked like more than I could possibly consume. There are probably 20 sandwich selections on the menu.  And, at least 100 different cheeses are available for sale on the deli countertop and in the cases.

Note: You are surrounded by butchered animals ranging from chickens to hanging legs of lamb, goats and other edibles.  I consider it to be part of the food chain, but just a word of warning :)

Once my sandwich came, they oriented me to using the tamarind savory jam topping to spread over the cheese.  The bread was scooped out leaving mostly crusty outside, better to hold the more than ample fillings.

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Next comes dessert, also included in the fixed price along with the wine.  It is a slice of French bread slathered with mascarpone cheese drizzled with local honey and topped with a crunchy walnut.  Two bites, then gone.  Mmmmmmm.  The man on the left ordered a fresh fig, quartered, and filled with homemade vanilla ice cream, topped with honey.  He ate it before I could get my camera focused.

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More about it.  Where to find it.  La Jersey also has a small deli in the Downtown Hotel complex at Isabel la Catolica #30, two blocks from the Zocalo.

Corn and Comida at the Casa del Campo, San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca

Angelica Guzman is a farmer entrepreneur.  Not only is she a great cook.  She works the fields to raise crops — garlic, squash, corn, beans — that feed minions. Plus, she houses Mexican students who come to a Tlacochahuaya bilingual university for teacher preparation.

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Tia Sofia with Angelica (r)

Tia Sofia with Angelica (r)

After our morning with her son Moises Garcia Guzman at the Tlacochahuaya church, we walk to the house in the fields where Angelica prepares comida (lunch) for us.  Moises reminds me that water is scarce.  It is summer, the rainy season. The milpas is planted, but there has been little rain.  In some fields, yellowing corn stalks, like flags, wave in the breeze.  Federal permits to dig a well are expensive. The government believes crops are thirstier than people.

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At Angelica’s Casa del Campo there is a well and the corn stalks are young summer green.  The cobs will mature for November harvest to feed people and animals.

Moises explains that the organic corn planted in this valley adapts to weather conditions. The grain may not be as big if there is not much rain, but there will still be a crop.  Not like genetically modified grain which depends on commercial fertilizer and large-scale sophisticated irrigation systems a la Monsanto which the valley farmers resist.

Comida is the biggest meal of the day, usually taken between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the afternoon.  Today, our menu is a traditional Oaxaca repast.

First, the horchata, adorned with walnuts, cubes of cantalope melon, and tuna (the red fruit of the nopal cactus).

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Then, a botano (snack) of fresh off-the-comal corn tortillas that we fill with chapulines.  Click on chapulines to see what we are eating!

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Next comes the quesadillas al comal stuffed with squash blossoms and quesillo.

Quesdilla hands

If that wasn’t enough, Angelica brings us platters of grilled tasajo — thin-sliced, seasoned and grilled beef, and beef chorizo.

Beef Chorizo

And, then, the dish from the campo that all Oaxacans love — Sopa de Guias (gee-ahs).   Sopa de Guias, sometimes called squash vine soup, is a vegetable stew of squash, squash blossoms, the tender new green shoots of squash before it fruits, and the squash plant greens, with an ear of corn cooked in the broth.  It is delicious.

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It was all I could do to waddle after giving thanks and saying goodbye late in the afternoon.  Eating and visiting in Oaxaca is an all-day affair.