Guadalajara, the 2nd biggest city in Mexico might just be the most 'Mexican' place in the entire country - the city and the surrounding regions of Jalisco are the original home of tequila, mariachi music, sombreros and of course some great food.
It's a pretty attractive low-rise city with an elegant historic centre, lots of ornate churches and interesting small towns and suburbs dotted around the surrounding hills. It's also renowned for several dishes that I was keen to try as part of our reseach into our new Taco Legend book.
Birria - this is the classic historic dish of Guadalajara. A broth made from goat cooked in a spicy soup and served with a selection of salsas and tortillas. You fill a tortilla with a bit of the shredded goat meat, a handful of chopped onion, dash of salsa and a squeeze of lime, then dip it in the broth before trying not to let it all dribble down your arm while you're eating.
Torta ahogado (translates as 'drowned sandwich') - this is a slightly newer (accidental!?) invention from a street-food seller who had some leftovers, and is now a big favourite in Guadalajara. It's made with a crusty roll or small baguette filled with carnitas (shredded pork), chopped onion and then literally drenched in tomato salsa until it softens and soaks up some of the sauce.
It's often served in a bag to hold all the liquid and save dribbling it all over your clothes, but it's actually an amazing thing to eat. The bread softens a bit and soaks up the salsa, and JUST about holds together long enough so the whole thing doesn't fall apart. Delicious!
Carne en su jugo - translates as 'meat cooked in its own juice'. Not necessarily the most delicious sounding concoction but it was great. Tender shredded beef in a broth (they do seem to be pretty keen on 'brothy' food in Guadalajara! Maybe it's because of the dry climate...?) made from the cooking juices from the meat, onion, chilli and bacon. Served with roasted onions and salsas.
Fruits with Chamoy - afternoons see loads of stalls on the streets selling potato crisps drenched in salsa picante, cold Agua Fresca drinks or fresh fruit that's dressed with salt, ground chilli and Chamoy (a sweet/sour fruit paste that tastes a bit like tamarind). Delicious to enjoy while soaking up the sun in one of the elegant squares in the historic centre.
Tortillas are dipped in salsa then filled with chicken or pork, rolled up and fried until crispy. They're served drenched in salsa, white cheese and crema (a bit like sour and double cream mixed together) and eaten for breakfast.
Tacos de canasta - 'basket' tacos named after the basket they were stored and sold from on the streets.
Strictly speaking these are a Mexico City dish, but they're so good they've spread to Guadalajara as well. They're tacos filled with either mashed potato, beans or shredded pork, then layered up with sliced onion and a bit of oil while hot so they 'sweat' a bit and go slightly soft. You then add a bit of fresh green salsa and have a few pickled vegetables on the side for breakfast or a mid-morning snack
Tostilocos / sometimes called Dorilocos - Dori (Doritos), locos (crazy), so translates as 'crazy Doritos'!
A new street food invention that's a big thing at the moment is tostilocos or dorilocos - an unlikely sounding combo that's deserving of it's 'loco' (crazy) name.... They're made from a pack of cheese Doritos (or Tostitos, a Mexican brand of tortilla chips), cut open sideways then topped with chopped onion, cucumber, diced ham, jicama and peanuts (and apparently sometimes jelly babies get chucked in there as well!) then seasoned with salt, chilli, salsa picante, salsa inglesa ('English' salsa = Worcester sauce!), liquid stock and a squeeze of lime.
It's not much of a looker, and feels slightly wrong when you're eating it but it's also one of those things you can't quite stop yourself having another bite of...
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