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General Discussion

Desayuno: Breakfast in Mexico

cristina | Jul 13, 201911:17 AM     4

I receive many, many inquiries from foreigners planning a vacation in Mexico: "Where should I go for lunch?" "What's a good time to go out for supper?" "I want to eat lunch at (X high-end restaurant with a 12-course tasting menu) and supper at (Y restaurant with an 8-course tasting menu). Will that work?"

When I answer that the concepts of "lunch" and "supper" really don't exist in Mexico as one knows those meals, particularly in the USA or Canada, people are shocked. Some come and try to acclimate to the Mexican way of eating, and others write to me later to say, "No wonder there was no one in the restaurant when my family was there at 6:30PM! We thought it would be bustling, but no. When we were finished with our meal, at about 8:30PM, people started arriving. You were right!"

Let's talk about mealtimes in Mexico, starting with breakfast.

People in Mexico frequently eat two morning meals. The first is desayuno, which comes from the root word ayunar, to fast. Desayuno literally means "I un-fast" and is ordinarily eaten first thing in the morning, maybe before work while you are standing in the pre-dawn kitchen thinking about the coming day on the job or gobbled while you are hurrying the kids into their school uniforms. This breakfast consists of something quick and simple or a smear of yesterday's frijolitos refritos on a leftover tortilla, washed down with a glass of fresh orange juice; a pan dulce fresh out of the oven from the corner bakery, accompanied by a cup of milky Nescafé (Mexico's ubiquitous instant coffee). It's just enough to help your brain kick into gear.

For a later breakfast at home, I occasionally prepares molletes, an old-time family favorite. I grill a bolillo (a dense-textured and crusty white bread roll), add a thick smear of chile-spiced refried beans, and top them with huevos volteados (over-easy eggs). With a fresh fruit accompaniment, this almuerzo is really stick-to-your-ribs.

Another really hearty almuerzo: a plateful of enchiladas verdes con pollo deshebrado (enchiladas with shredded chicken in green sauce) topped with finely grated white cheese and minced onion, accompanied by a guarnición (side) of refried beans.

Another typical almuerzo in Mexico: chilaquiles verdes (fried tortilla strips simmered in green sauce), topped with grated white cheese and thinly sliced white onions, then crowned with huevos al gusto (eggs however you like them). Add a side of frijolitos refritos, a plate of ripe seasonal fruit, a warm-from-the-oven bolillo, either salsa or butter for the bread, and a great cappuchino, all served on a sunny terrace. Heaven...

Next week, next meal: comida, Mexico's main meal of the day, coming up. We'll save your place at the table.

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