Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Weenies and Eggs

(By La Huerita, as originally published in Mexico Living Magazine, now called Baja Good Life, Nov. 2009)

In México the words "huevos con salchicha" on a restaurant menu is usually translated into English as "eggs with sausage". I well remember the first time I ordered it for breakfast, fully expecting to get a nice sausage patty or a couple of links with my eggs. Imagine my surprise when my breakfast arrived and instead of American-type sausages full of fat, sage and succulence, a couple of pale wieners stared wanly back at me from my plate, sliced down the middle and fried.

I know what my face looked like at that moment, because in ensuing years I took a certain vicious pleasure in not warning newbie American diners in México about it just so I could watch their faces when their breakfasts arrived. It was all part of allowing others the fun of discovery for themselves, doncha know. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

In México (and throughout Latin America) "salchichas" means "wieners"; they are as ubiquitous as Spam is in Hawaii. You will even find them chopped up in spaghetti sauce (Mmmm, que sabroso...) or sliced and served with French fries (“salchipapas”). Other types of “sausages” are always referenced on a menu by name, such as “chorizo” or “longaniza”. And all that is just by way of introducing you to the notion that not all food-related issues in México are also health related.

Real Méxican food is often quite different from the dishes served in most Méxican/Tex-Mex restaurants in other countries, so if you think you've had "Méxican" food in the USA or Canada, you might be surprised to discover that you haven't. If you have a taste for culinary adventure you’ll be well rewarded in México; if not, stick to a few simple and traditional dishes that are almost always very good.

Tacos come to mind, of course, but they won't be anything like what you get at the Taco Bell kind of places. Also likely to be familiar are guacamole, enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos, meatballs (albondigas) and of course rice and beans. You can branch out from there.

Resort areas frequented by foreigners, such as Rocky Point, generally have restaurants that cater specifically to gringo tastes (and fears), and in those cases the word sausage is likely to be followed on the menu by “American Style”, so you’ll know what you’re getting. But you know what? After a few years living in México I actually began to like salchipapas, and now that I’ve warned you I’m rather sorry I won’t get to watch YOUR face when you’re served fried weenies with your eggs.

Oh, one more thing about those wieners: They're usually of the Vienna type, pale in color and not particularly rich in flavor. In fact, they may be the only food served in México that isn't rich in flavor. Unless you love those weenies, go with chorizo (which is REAL Méxican sausage) or machaca for breakfast instead. You can thank me later.


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