Friday, August 12, 2016

Fine dining on two wheels (Street meats and sweets)

What do I want, what do I want .....
Walking through centro in the evening can be a sensory experience.  

The smells of cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, and grilled fish waft through the warm tropical night.  

Followed by scents of hot sugar, cinnamon and warm chocolate.  It’s time to eat!

Mealtimes start early with the mobile fresh orange juice vendor setting up on the corner of Matamoras and Rueda Medina.  Freshly squeezed juice is available until the merchant runs out of oranges.  

Juice man 

The proprietor uses a hand-powered press, pulling down hard with his right hand and biceps to squeeze each individual half.  

He quickly flips the spent portion into a refuse pile, repeating the process until the container is filled with the sweet amber-coloured liquid.   

Judging by the bulging biceps the juice vendor could easily win any arm-wrestling challenge.

Later in the morning other mobile vendors arrive to sell cold drinks, flavoured crushed-ice concoctions, popsicles and frozen ice cream treats.  

Choices, choices ......
They set up their carts across from the popular beaches enticing hot sun-worshipers to purchase a cooling confection.  

It’s always a giggle to watch the intense decision making that takes place while youngsters ponder their choices: pineapple, coconut, mango, and chocolate.  

So many flavours.  The youngsters turn with inquisitive eyes towards their parents.  It’s too hard to decide.  Maybe I should have two treats?

Near cemetery on Lopez Mateos
Then at sundown the mobile food peddlers make an appearance, tucking their two-wheeled carts into familiar niches, on street corners at either end of Hidalgo Avenue.  The intersection of Lopez Mateos and Hidalgo Avenues, near the entrance to the oldest island cemetery and the IxChel condos has become a very congested area.  

The vendors vie for their little patch of the pavement, pushing further and further into the street frequently restricting the vehicular traffic to one lane at a time.  

A couple of years ago the city administration decided to prohibit the street vendors from occupying Rueda Medina, limiting their approved location to include this busy corner, and in the square across from the Super X-Press.  

Good idea or bad idea, the jury is still out on that decision.

My favourite street treat is the delicious hot marquesitas filled with chocolate sauce and sliced bananas rolled up with a napkin secured on the end to catch the melting syrup.  


Marquesitas are a traditional Yucatan treat, invented in either in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s by Don Vincent Mena Munoz the heir to the Polito Ice Cream Company. He was looking for a cool weather treat to offset the downturn in ice cream sales during the winter months.  Similar in texture to a waffle cone the batter is heated over a hot fire using a cast iron variation of a waffle pan.  The resulting crepe-shaped form can be filled with a combination of ingredients such as Nutella, goat’s milk caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, shredded cheese or sliced bananas.  The traditional shape was rolled into a cylinder, but here on Isla it is pretty common to see the cooked waffle mixture folded into quarters.  I’m a fan of the rolled shape, it’s easier to cut in half and share.

Juice man headed home at sundown
At the end of a busy day the vendors head home, back to their neighbourhoods in the centre of the island.  Some of the heavy mobile carts are powered by a moto, many others are pedal-powered by two strong legs.  It’s a pretty physical business, getting the cart to centro, standing while preparing the food, and powering the cart back home again at the end of the work day.
And then the streets go quiet for a few hours before the process starts all over again with the dawn arrival of the juice vendor. 

Another juice man headed home late afternoon

Yum!  Good eats!

Hasta Pronto!
Lynda & Lawrie

1 comment:

Linda said...

Such deliciousness!