25 June 2011

Tijuana taco hunt

It's been a bit of time for the blog, I miss it. Not sure if you miss us . . .

Well we went away to San Diego for a week so we've a few food-related things to say about it. J was down there mostly for a conference and I was there mostly to tag along, mess around, and do no work. I succeeded on my end.

I did not realize that San Diego was as close as it is to the Mexican border. But it is. You can take the trolley/streetcar from downton San Diego to the border. It's a bit of a slow go at 45 minutes, or you can drive it in about 15 minutes. I also did not realize that a friend of ours who we met on the folk fest circuit also lived in San Diego. And he was most obliging and agreed to take me on a taco tour of Tijuana.

Thus Jimmy G and I set out on the trolley for the Mexican border. We had been down a few days before to an outlet mall and were suprised to see the "border fence" going right through the parking lot. So that a bit set the mood for me. Anywho, big red trolley down to the border and then toodle across by foot. It's easier than getting on the subway, because you don't have to pay. You just walk through a couple of turnstiles, no border check, no immigration officers, nothing. Bienvenidos a Mexico!

So Jimmy G and I wandered the streets of Tijuana for many hours and stopped at quite a few taco stalls along the way. We avoided the most touristy area and wandered through the town's nice and not as nice parts. It's surely not the prettiest place but the food was good. We had a few tacos and also tried some paletas, Mexican fresh fruit popsicles, which were delicious. I was wary of the ceviche on the hot street and the delicate disposition of my stomach, so I did not take the chance. My only disappointment was that I didn't get to have a taco de lengua. Next time.

Off all the ones I tried, the best came from our first stop at Asadero el Abuelo. It was carne asada cooked right there in front me over a charcoal grill. Kept simple with a bit of onion, cilantro, guacamole and hand-made corn tortillas. Toss in a bit of radish and a spritz of lime and perfecto!

Along with it I had my first (of many that day) aqua frescas. This is why you go with someone who's more familiar, because they'll make it feel safer to try stuff you might not otherwise. The first was horchata, basically cold cinnamon rice milk. Very refreshing and delicious. Over the course of the day I also tried papya, tamarind, and flor de jamaica (hibiscus flower). By the end of our wanderings, my legs were ready to fall off but one last treat as we approached the long line to cross back into the USA: freshly made churros!! The best ones ever.

So while Tijuana is not exactly what I would call one of my favourite places, the street food was fantastic! Oh and I got a new comal and some fabulous pottery bowls for next to nothing, so I am ready for more Mexican at home!!

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