Street Food | Elotes and Esquites

Elotes in San Cristóbal de las Casas

Elotes in San Cristóbal de las Casas

One of my favorite things to do when traveling to a new place is to try the street food. Street food is always an adventure and great way to get to know a place. Usually it is delicious, cheap and a great way to get other diners talking about their city. Some people have a fear of eating street food but I have tried it all over the world and so far anyway, haven’t had a bit of a problem. I feel safe eating street food because usually kitchen is right there to inspect, ingredients are almost always fresh. Also, if there is a problem you have instant access to the ingredient buyer/maître de/chef/waiter/busboy.

In San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas Mexico one of the more ubiquitous street food items is elotes and its cousin, esquites. An elote is essentially the Mexican name for grilled corn on the cob. It is served on a stick or with the husks pulled down to make a handle. Esquites is essentially the same corn removed from the cob and served in a cup and eaten with a spoon.

Fresh corn is cooked over a grill and then usually held a steamer or ice chest on the street cart to keep warm. Then when you order these delicious missiles of gastronomic goodness they are almost always slathered with mayonnaise. Optionally there is salt, chili powder, butter, salsa picante, grated cotija cheese, or lime juice or sour cream. I like the mayonnaise, cheese, salt, salsa picante and lime.

Granted eating anything on a stick, out of a tray with plastic forks, from paper or a husk is usually not too elegant but elegance is not what street food is about. Street food is about flavor; both of cuisine and place. It is social: how often do you get to share a table with an entire city? It is usually inexpensive and an adventure. Just be sure to get lots of napkins.

Jonathan Look Eating Elotes

The Author Eating Elotes

 

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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