This vegan banana chocolate smoothie recipe is a creation I’ve been drinking over and over again for the last few weeks. I love experimenting with Mexican ingredients that aren’t necessarily always in traditional Mexican dishes. Cacao has been harvested and consumed in its raw state by ancient cultures such as the Aztecs and Mayans in Mexico as well as some other Latin American countries for centuries. Today, it’s easy to find a variety of raw cacao powders commercially available and made by different brands; it’s often sold in health food stores and it’s easy and inexpensive to buy online as well. Raw cacao powder has plenty of health benefits in addition to the rich flavor it provides to any dish. It’s packed with antioxidants, and has high amounts of nutrients and minerals such as magnesium, copper and manganese.
There is so much to love about Mexico City.
I’ve been traveling to Mexico City—affectionately known as Chilangolandia—several times a year for the better part of a decade to visit my husband’s family, and it never ceases to amaze me. From the world-class museums and interesting historic landmarks to the variety of culinary experiences, ranging from street food to haute cuisine, I have a serious love affair with this city that is home to more than 21 million people (including the metro area). You can see and experience everything from fancy, modern skyscrapers to old-school open air markets. At times it can feel like a major metropolis, but at the drop of a hat, you may find yourself in a neighborhood that feels less like the city and more like a pueblo. It’s a diverse city with so much culture and history to explore.
Everything about the place calls my name, and each snapshot I take while visiting is a permanent memory embedded in my mind and heart. It’s strange, but when I’m away, I sometimes feel homesick for this magical place although it’s not where I was born and raised. Having spent so much time there, though, it has become like my second hometown. Recently, I discovered an app called Waterlogue that blew me away with its ability to turn my photos into stunning watercolor painted images. I started sorting through some of my favorite travel photos from Mexico City as well as other places in Mexico that I’ve visited, and have become addicted to turning my photos into works of art. Here are 10 photos I’ve taken in Mexico City over the years that I’ve turned into watercolor images.
A chicharrón vendor on the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) campus, Cuidad Universitaria
Basically every carnitas joint in Mexico claims they have the best carnitas. Who can blame them? To somebody, each place DOES have the best carnitas. One of my favorite places in Mexico City, El Venadito, is no exception. This restaurant, which is a neighborhood staple and has no other locations, has been open since 1950. Like many other places, they have a sign that says “super carnitas, las mejores de México.” I will say: They are pretty spectacular, and among my top choices when I’m craving carnitas in Mexico City. After all, what place could stay open for more than six decades with signs saying they have the best carnitas if they didn’t?
Although there’s a restaurant where you can actually sit down in the back, I prefer the charming, tiny curbside taco stand. The only thing separating me from Tomás—the taquero who has been there as long as anyone I know can remember—is a window that’s about five feet high with a counter on top, so I can watch my carnitas go from being chopped to tortilla, salivating while I watch.
I always order them the same way: Surtido, which is a mix of white meat, dark meat, other parts, skin and some crunchy bits of chicharron. Top it with fresh, raw salsa verde and it’s truly a heavenly taco. If you’re squeamish about eating certain parts of the pig, you can always ask for maciza, which is white meat only.
Fresas con crema are a traditional, popular dessert all over Mexico.
Irapuato, a town in the state of Guanajuato, is particularly known not only for its bountiful strawberry fields, but also its roadside stands where you can get freshly picked berries or an impromptu treat of fresas con crema. Most of the roadside stands keep a cooler with crema on ice for highway travelers hankering for this sweet and simple treat. With only three ingredients—strawberries, cream and sugar—it’s easy to fall under this dessert’s spell.
MAY IS NATIONAL STRAWBERRY MONTH, so I’m delighted to share this spin on fresas con crema made into popsicles. You’ll love them so much, I promise you’ll want to eat them all spring and summer long until you can’t get any more strawberries.
Variations on the traditional fresas con crema recipe mostly come in the choice of the “crema” part of the dish. Some people like to use crema Mexicana, while others may use a canned version known as media crema table cream. These Mexican strawberries and cream popsicles are made a little less dense—but equally creamy—with a quick homemade whipped cream made from scratch. Paletas de fresas con crema are one of my absolute favorite desserts for spring and summer, and my friends, family and co-workers all love when I make a big batch of these popsicles to share. During the hottest days of the summer, I suggest freezing them overnight before serving so they aren’t quick to melt in the heat.
Mexican marzipan, known as mazapan, is perhaps one of the simplest candy treats to make. After all, it’s typically only got two ingredients: ground peanuts and powdered sugar. Earlier this week, a friend at work brought me a bag full of mazapanes from her cousin’s trip to Mexico. He had given her too many and so I offered to take some of them off her hands. This simple, traditional candy reminds me of my husband’s abuelita Ana and her sweet, sly smile when she talked about her favorite foods. Her eyes twinkled and she would get this contagious grin that started on one side and slowly spread across her mouth, as if she knew the world’s best secret.
This savory Mexican breakfast pastry braid stuffed with scrambled eggs and chorizo—known as a trenza de huevo con chorizo—is a simple recipe to please your breakfast or brunch crowd.
If you ask me, breakfast pastries are a pretty genius invention, whether they’re sweet or savory. And I admit it: I will pretty much eat anything wrapped in puff pastry. It’s one of my weaknesses. This recipe is one of my go-to breakfast or brunch recipes when I’m trying to do something fancy that looks like I put in a ton of effort but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking. I like to serve slices of this savory breakfast pastry braid with coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and seasonal fruit.
If you like, you can choose other mix-ins with your scrambled eggs such as chile poblano strips and onion, chiltomate (a salsa made with Roma tomatoes and chile habanero), or anything else you normally would scramble in with eggs.