Jackpot!

Cancun is made up of two very different parts: the zona hotelera, or hotel area, where all of the tourists and spring breakers hang out, fry in the sun, and get tanked at the clubs, and the centro, or downtown area, where there’s no beach, no big resorts and just a lot of locals.

Parque de las Palapas

Though we spent the majority of our time in Mexico exploring places other than Cancun, we did find ourselves looking for a place to eat there one night, and it was then that we hit the jackpot of food: Parque de las Palapas. An open and lively square, the park is named after the umbrella’d tables where people gather to listen to live music and eat the delicious food from the  many food stalls and carts selling all sorts of traditional Mexican eats. From tacos and quesadillas to things I had never heard of in my life, everyone was selling something, and for what amounted to no more than a couple of dollars.

Everything was so good, and so mind-bogglingly-cheap that we came back for lunch a different day. Add up everything below and it probably still was barely 20 US dollars. And let me tell you, it made buying lunch in New York upon my return almost that much more of a painful experience.

First, some of the most simple, no-frills tacos I’ve ever had. Nothing but juicy, savory hunks of chicken on warm tortillas, but yet somehow better than a lot of the sloppy, fat, overloaded tacos I’ve had at home.

Chicken tacos

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Letter to a new friend

Dear pupusa,

Where have you been all my life? Why had we never met before a week ago? No really, why? I grew up in Miami and come from a Central American country… just like you!  I’ve lived the majority of my life surrounded by all things Hispanic, how did we not cross paths earlier?

Pork and cheese pupusa

I’d heard of you before, sure. I mean who could forget a name like that, pupusa. (I’m sorry. Sometimes I’m immature and still laugh at poo poo jokes. You understand.) Yet I don’t remember seeing you anywhere until I ran into you in the Mission, listed there on that giant menu at Taqueria Los Coyotes. I wasn’t sure what to get and I wasn’t even sure that Los Coyotes would be any good. I just walked in randomly because I was hungry and in the neighborhood. But then I saw you and I thought why not try something new?

I wasn’t sure what you would look like to be totally honest, pupusa. Your name made me think you would be round or tube shaped (again, sorry, it must be the thought of poo poo) but then when you arrived you were something else. You were round and flat, like a tortilla. But when the nice lady who took my order asked me what I wanted you filled with, I chose pork and cheese, so I knew there was more to you than just tortilla. I cut a piece off and tossed you in my mouth. Pupusa, you were awesome! Soft on the outside, with a salty, cornmealy taste that went perfectly with the cheese and pork filling inside. You were simple and not overpowering and I really liked that about you. I should have asked for several of you instead of just one.

Carnitas taco

After you, I had a carnitas taco. I’ve had tacos before but never like that one. They just make you all different out here, don’t they? Your fellow menu companion, the taco, was really good, though totally different from you. A soft, white corn tortilla topped with a colorful heap of delicious, juicy pork meat, chopped cilantro, diced onion and a smokey chili sauce with no goopy cheese, globs of sour cream or watery tomatoes. You guys are great!

And then, as if you hadn’t both already done enough, you brought free chips with a whole assortment of salsas, peppers and hot sauces. Free! Now there’s a name you don’t hear often where I’m from. In New York, where I normally live, I meet a lot of Expensives and Overpriceds but not many Frees.  It was a nice change.

Well, pupusa my friend, I plan on seeing a lot of you in the future, especially while I’m still here in California. I hope your east coast counterparts are as delicious as you are, because I’ll really miss you when I leave. Let’s make the most of the time we have left together in San Francisco!

Love,

Angie

Best non-edible purchase of the weekend

I don’t just love food, I even love things that only look like food too. Which is why I knew even though it was somewhat unnecessary, a little ridiculous, and totally an impulse buy, that I just had to own the cookie look-a-like coin purse that I saw at the MoMA bookstore and giftshop.

Food-shaped accessories, a win-win situation.

The MoMA store is awesome, filled with enough artsy gadgets and gizmos to keep me entertained for hours. Even though I’d been there often, I’d never seen these: a line of coin purses and pencil pouches (I’m assuming that’s what they were) shaped like food items. There was a slice of pizza, a taco and a chocolate chip cookie, each one hilariously real looking.

I debated back and forth on whether I really needed it, but in the end lost the fight. C’mon, who was I kidding? When have I ever been able to say no to a chocolate chip cookie?