Monday, September 03, 2007
Quesadillas or Empanadas?
I've only been in Mexico City for about four hours and already it feels like I've done it all.
Ana came to pick me up at the airport with her aunt. The aunt can't speak English and I can barely manage a hello in Spanish but she's a jovial lady who's constantly laughing which is always fun - especially as we crawl in traffic through this sprawling megalopolis.
As we make our way through the city, I realize that I have no idea where we are in relation to anything I've seen on any map. We could be thirty miles from the airport or three hundred yards, I just don't know where we are but the sights are amazing. So many things about this city, from the interior design, to the architecture, to the roadways and to the street vendors remind me of life in Manila. It's a foreign country for sure, but it's strangely comfortable. Many people say it's one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and since it's the second largest, I believe it.
Regardless of the danger, there seems to be little concern for driving around with the windows down...
After a brief stop at one of Ana's cafes, we head to pick up her mom and then to the supermercado to do a little grocery shopping. The store is huge and it's like one of those SuperWal*Marts that has everything else in addition to groceries. Of course, the food captures my attention. The diversity of ingredients that I've never seen in the United States in amazing. I'm fascinated. I want to shop. I want to try out a wide swath of stuff they have here. From the fresh peppers and nopales to the amazing assortment of cheeses, like the Queso de Oaxaca. I make a mental note to come back and shop.
After our excursion, mom and aunt are ready for a snack and want to know if I'd like to try quesadillas, little do these women know that I'll try just about anything. We stop in front of the supermarket at an empanada stand and they recommend the jamon y queso "quesadilla".
Being Filipino, I'm very intimate with empanadas - that little pie filled with assorted meats and veggies. And while I like them in general, I'm a fan of the deep-fried empanadas and this lady's got a small vat filled with boiling fat, and I love her for it.
As Ana orders, she grabs a few from the pan of fresh next her and drops them in the hot oil. It boils angrily and I'm excited. Once golden brown, she pulls them out with tongs and cuts them lengwise to expose the filling and allow you to add your choice of queso blanco, crema, salsa verde y salsa roja. I go for the crema, blanco and verde.
As I bit into the empanada, it's amazing. The corn based crust is perfectly fried to an outer crisp while still being tender on the inside. The queso and jamon have melted together into brilliance and the shredded cheese, crema and salsa verde add a light punch while smoothening it out.
Ana's mom and aunt ask if I want more, but I decline. Of course, I want more. Heck, I could eat four of them, but I don't want to put a bad (read:proper) impression only a couple hours after meeting.
But I still don't understand why she calls them "quesadillas", I'll have to find out later.