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20 years ago when I was living in Tabasco, Mexico I ate some of the most amazing foods in the world, and I had no flippin’ idea. NONE. Sweet and juicy mangoes. So ripe that they almost don’t need to be peeled. Pineapples cut that day and fresh fish caught just miles away. The best place to buy food – El Mercado Pino Suarez.
You know when you’re a kid and you don’t appreciate stuff – like cooking with your grandmother or hugs from your mother? That’s how I feel about my time in Tabasco. You’ve never had a banana until you’ve tasted one from Tabasco. Soft and delicious. They don’t monkey around with their bananas either. They make everything and anything with bananas – banana cake, banana chips, banana smoothies, banana popsicles, banana pineapple pudding parfaits. YUM!
Weeds, but you don’t smoke these. 😉 Chipilín, matali, albahaca, chaya, cebollines. People from Tabasco cook with them – anything from soups to stews. Or seep them in hot water for a broth or refreshing beverage.
Tamales de elote y pastel de elote – Corn tamales and corn cake. 20 years ago, I used to eat corn cake for breakfast with a big cup of coffee. It’s like cornbread but wetter and very moist. Tasting it again after all these years, I almost cried from sheer joy… because food does that to me sometimes.
This is a view from upstairs where the restaurants are located. There’s a huge fish section at the mercado. With the Gulf of Mexico and several rivers, seafood is a big deal in Tabasco. We “see” food, and we eat it. 😀 Oh! And don’t forget the pineapple salsa.
There are restaurants upstairs at the Mercado Pino Suarez, away from all the shopping traffic. This coctel de camarones is slightly sweet from the molasses and warm not cold. It is unlike any of the shrimp cocktails you might be familiar with that are typical of Northern Mexico. It’s a whole new world in Southern Mexico. Still ridiculously yummy. Still amazingly fresh with tons of cilantro. Served with saltine crackers and lime.
Is Mexico safe? I get asked this question ALL THE TIME. I’ll start with this: I’ve lived in Mexico several times throughout my life and in different parts of the republic. Plus, I’m a native Spanish speaker. Next, I’ll tell you that it’s like any foreign country you’re not familiar with. Don’t be stupid and start flashing your Benjamin Franklins around. Don’t leave your stuff unattended. Carry with you only what you need. Leave your valuables at the hotel, given that it’s a safe hotel. My best advice to you and anyone traveling in Mexico: smile! Just look at our colors. We, Mexicans, like to dance, sing, eat good food, and laugh. In Tabasco, it’s very common to call strangers “amigo” or “amiga.” You’d be surprised how far a smile and a simple “gracias” will take you.