I Love It, I Hate It: Making Meals in Mexico

Moving to a foreign country has its good points and its bad points. And while this is a pretty dumb observation, and is true with just about anything life dishes out (from “waking up in the morning” to “eating a candy bar”), I try to keep this balance in mind, especially if I’m feeling particularly frustrated with my ex-pat life.

Here, in Mexico City, the fine art of food preparation definitely falls into this good/bad, thrilling/frustrating conundrum.

Good: The amazing abundance of perfectly ripe, delicious fruits and vegetables, some of which appear to come from outer space.

Bad: You can’t just sink your teeth into these puppies without first soaking them in water, adding anti-bacterial drops, stirring, and letting them sit for 20 minutes. (We’ve been told we’re a bit overly cautious with this, but I’ve twice had another “bad” food experience with absolutely no “good” counterpart — lengthy, gut-wrenching food poisoning — so I’m not yet ready to dial it back.)

This means that for every meal you make with fresh ingredients (delicious, ripe ingredients), you have to add at least 20 minutes to the time it will take to prepare. You frequently have giant bowls of this sitting on your counter, which is pretty, but a giant hassle, if you’re a Type A personality like me, and just want to get on with it already….

veggies

(Waiting to be soaked and devoured: Tomatillos, tomatoes, limes, cilantro and flor de calabaza)

3 thoughts on “I Love It, I Hate It: Making Meals in Mexico

  1. Christine says:

    Hi Joy,
    I moved to Mexico City from New York City three weeks ago and have been enjoying your blog immensely 🙂
    I’m curious – do you use this soaking process for lettuce? I’ve recently read some scary articles including this one: http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/47/5/1074.pdf
    I’ve mostly been eating in restaurants but I miss having salad, vegetables etc. at home! I can’t find any good information on how to prepare them, with the exception of overcooking everything.
    Thanks!!!

  2. Joy says:

    Excellent question, Christine. Truth is, I have no idea and we’re just following the advice of other ex-pats. I do disinfect anything I eat raw, including lettuce. Because, yes, most of it has been irrigated with dirty water.

    The drops they sell at the store are meant to be used with tap water. But we use the drops in purified water to rinse/soak veggies. And we always use purified water for boiling pasta, cooking, etc. I only use tap water for washing dishes and my hands. I am guessing restaurants are not even this careful.

    We’ve been here since October, and I’ve now been *really* sick three times. My husband has had some mild problems, but nothing like me. Oh, and my dog got sick this week, too! He has giardia, a common parasite here.

    The people I know who have lived here a long time all say: No matter what, you will get sick, it’s inevitable. And I can attest to that. I’m pretty sure I’ve had salmonella.

    One tip: the ice in restaurants is safe to use if it has holes in it, which means it’s been commercially produced.

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