As well as the conventional sightseeing we spent a lot of time in Mexico City eating and drinking. Thanks to Everardo and his parents we were very well fed during our stay with them. And naturally every time we ventured out to explore the great capital we sought sustenance.
Everardo was an excellent guide, taking us to some authentic chilango hang-outs. We sampled excellent mezcal at a hole in the wall bar in the Centro Historico, Al Andar. Distilled from the agave, or maguey plant, mezcal is the name for the spirit that is uniquely Mexican. Tequila is a type of mezcal – made from the blue agave in Jalisco. The tipple is served with slices of orange and salt (supposedly blended with chile and ground up powder from the maguey worm sometimes found in the centre of the plant). Delicious!
Another culinary highlight was the cantinas that are clustered around the Centro Historico. Hidden behind swinging, saloon-style doors these hubs of eating and drinking are lively at all hours of the day and night. Inside drinks are served, and with each one a free botana – tapas style snack. Each one a surprise. They are cheap and have great atmospheres. I loved the fact that it was possible to be in the centre of the city and have a never-ending choice of places to eat and drink on a budget – something that is really difficult to enjoy in central London. All walks of life hang out in the cantinas. Apparently they only recently allowed women to come in – some of them still do not have female loos. There’s no sign of this male-domination now, with women scoffing and quaffing with the best of them, me included!
We indulged in more drinking at La Risa (the smile) – another tiny bar with a specific offering. This time, pulque. Also distilled from the agave (a wonderful plant), originally the brew of the Aztecs. It’s thick and sour, I imagine it tastes a bit like mead. Like mezcal, pulque is enjoying a renaissance in popularity and we found the bar rammed with students at 6pm. The communal tables were great for meeting the locals! La Risa is famous as the pulqueria where the below picture was taken, that has made its way onto posters worldwide.