visit Mexico City

#Mexplaining by Morenita 05

WELCOME TO #MEXPLAINING, A SPACE WHERE MEXICANS EXPLAIN MÉXICO 

We’ll be dropping a new #Mexplanation every month via our newsletter. 

/ GARNACHAS /

“Be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it…” said God to delicious little corn-based Mexican snacks.

When it comes to street food, Mexico City is an incredible pan-regional smorgasburg. Yes, yes we know you’ve had tacos, flautas, tortas and pozole, but have you ever heard of tlacoyos, pambazos, esquites & guisados? Yup… exactly. Welcome. Take a seat, can I get you some water? Let me help you with your coat.

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For a snack to be considered a garnacha, it must have corn/ wheat dough base, must be oily AF, cooked in a comal (a griddle-like flat surface), must be filled with some sort of stew or casserole, consumed in a street stall and cannot be pricey. You should be able to eat a garnacha and pay with a couple of $10 peso coins (about $1 USD for these small heaven-sent fatty delicious appetizers)

Garnacha is in its essence soul food eaten on the street. However, not any street food can be considered garnacha. See what we did there? Step into the Morenita Glossary, right this way:

Gordita
A thin, fried dough patty with a “pocked” sliced into it where all the fillings go. Think of a kangaroo pouch-like concoction, filled with any meat under the sun and lettuce, onion, cilantro, queso fresco, salsa and sour cream.

Huarache
Imagine a long but elongated shape, emulating the shape of a sandal. This edible chancla is covered with beans and you can top it with anything: maybe start with carne asada, nopales (cactus salad), pumpkin flower or huitlacoche (corn smut)?

Tlacoyo
Looks like a diamond but elongated with the edges rounded out, always best to choose the ones made of blue corn. This flattened football-looking thing can be topped with beans, potatoes and cottage cheese along with your favorite animal protein, mushroom or legume.

Pambazo
A bun dipped in red chile sauce, cooked over a comal and filled with potatoes and chorizo. It is garnished with cream, cheese and lettuce. Like a wonderfully ghetto Mexican burger from the barrio.

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Morenita Street Food Tour

Photo by @elhuequito IG

Photo by @elhuequito IG

Of all the gastronomic range that exists in Mexico, there is a dish that has given us worldwide fame: el taco. Just a few months ago, el taco al pastor was recognized as the “Best Dish in the World” according to the ranking prepared by Taste Atlas, an awesome website of international food recommendations.

Netflix has also joined the furious rage with the series "Crónicas del Taco." Ubish Yaren, a local gastronomic expert, is featured in the first episode and now forms part of Morenita's select group of tour guides. Here are some details on the wonderful & educational caloric feast that is the Morenita Street Food Tour:

Photo by @elhuequito IG

Photo by @elhuequito IG

This downtown walking tour lasts two to three hours, which is plenty of time to savour and learn about tacos, tortas, homemade mole, tostadas, churros, coffee, chocolate and fresh seasonal fruit. Guests visit colorful food markets and street stands alongside a local bilingual chef.

You’ll tour two traditional taquerías, El Huequito and Los Cocuyos.

El Huequito opened at its first branch on City Hall Street, in 1959. Its star product is the taco al pastor, which is served in a very peculiar way, because the tortilla is rolled in a cylindrical way and the meat is seasoned differently from other places and the pork is slow-cooked before its charred.

Photo by:    chilango.com   .

Photo by: chilango.com.

Los Cocuyos is known as an "institution" of late-night tacos. The tiny locale (just two square meters) has been visited by chefs such as René Redzepi (from Noma in Copenhagen) and the beloved late Anthony Bourdain. This place has been open for over four decades and without a doubt is one of the classic premises of the Historic Center, one you can visit at any time, as its open 24/7/365.

Photo by @Morenita.Experience IG

Photo by @Morenita.Experience IG

The Morenita Street Food Tour also includes a stop at Mercado de San Juan on Calle Ernesto Pugibet, one of the oldest food markets in Mexico City. It was built inside the old cellar of the Cigarrera de Buen Tono. This market gained popularity due to its specialization in unique products & ingredients: from fine cheeses and imported meats, to insects, live lobsters, edible flowers, large game meats and even pre-Hispanic foods.

Photo by @eater IG

Photo by @eater IG

The tour ends with a sweet surprise, visiting the original 1935 El Moro churrería, and a traditional bakery called Ideal patisserie, also known as the “cake museum” for their huge cake towers.

For availability and rates on this delicious Morenita Tour please email: info@morenitaexperience.com

Mexplaining by Morenita 04

WELCOME TO #MEXPLAINING, A SPACE WHERE MEXICANS EXPLAIN MÉXICO 

We’ll be dropping a new #Mexplanation every month via our newsletter. 

Photo @CMLL

Photo @CMLL

/ LAS LUCHAS /

When the lights go out and the reflectors illuminate their bodies dressed in tight underpants, colorful masks and exotic capes, the audience goes insane; they are witnessing the real Mexican superheroes in flesh and blood. The Luchador’s pilgrimage to the ring unleashes whistles, applause, compliments, threats and, yes, a ton of groserías (swear words) that are as part of the ritual as anything else.

Couples, families, children, groups of friends, a few tourists, the popcorn and beer vendors: everyone is ready. The audience awaits the acclaimed announcement ... "They will fight two to three falls, sin límite de tiempo! (without a time limit)” The bell rings, and the show begins!

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

The fighters execute a duel of jumps, flights and spectacular llaves (choke holds) that sometimes expel them from the ring. This is what characterizes Mexican wrestling, a version of professional wrestling, but that includes rapid submissions and elevated acrobatics. Today, it is one of the most colorful cultural phenomena in our country, and one proudly originated in CDMX.

The first wrestling performances came in the mid-nineteenth century, at the time of the French intervention. At that time it was a foreign exhibition but, when a man named Enrique Ugartechea became known as the first fighter made in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century, a new fury for discipline was born.

Photo @CMLL

Photo @CMLL

The characters hide their identity behind a mask, here arose the habit of betting: if a fighter loses, he has to take it off and he can never use it again. The fighters who don’t use a mask have to bet their hair.

Many have adopted names of cultural elements, such as El Santo , the most famous luchador of all, a character inspired by religious figures (“the saint”). Then there’s Alushe, a dwarf fighter who represents the Mayan elves who protect the cenotes, or underground rivers found throughout the Mayan Riviera.

El Santo Photo by La Silla Rota

El Santo Photo by La Silla Rota

The eternal battle between good and evil is divided into two historical camps: los rudos y los técnicos. The former represent the trap, the transgression of the rules, winning regardless of the means. The latter represent respect for the rules, fair play and honor.

The golden age of this sport was lived in the 1960s, when the fighters were true idols of the town. They appeared in spectacular ads, on television, were characterized as action figures and, of course, in dozens of movies. In the case of El Santo, his films won international awards and were recognized abroad for their kitsch element.

Photo Istock

Photo Istock

These days, the Mexican wrestling functions are still presented in its original setting, the Arena Mexico, located in Colonia Doctores, a downtown neighborhood. Despite the passage of time, this cultural phenomena has managed to find new niche in its audience with middle class young people or hipsters, who now think of it as an alternative for a night out on the town, sharing drinks and laughs with friends.

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#Mexplaining La Limpia

WELCOME TO #MEXPLAINING, A SPACE WHERE MEXICANS EXPLAIN MÉXICO

We’ll be dropping a new #Mexplanation every month via our newsletter.

Photo by: Camilo VanderHuck

Photo by: Camilo VanderHuck

/ LA LIMPIA /

Energetic cleansing, ritual, ceremony, healing ... the word may be different but the purpose is the same: to restore calm and protect the spirit.

La Limpia translates into “the cleanse”. This practice is a deep-rooted inheritance from our Aztec ancestors, as they believed everything in this world had a spirit. Today, it’s still commonplace for the elder - especially in rural or mainly indigenous communities - to resort to spirits and implore their intervention to obtain good harvests, produce rain, cure illnesses or to avoid misfortunes.

These pagan behaviors are seen all over the world but a common denominator is they’re usually reserved for a lower class, socioeconomically-speaking. In Mexico, on the other hand, all classes fall into these belief patterns. The wealthy, the working class, politicians, men and women of all ages: absolutely everyone, resorts to or suggests a cleanse when something goes wrong, perhaps a bad financial streak, a car accident, a sprained ankle or a divorce.

This behavior marks the difference between Mexican culture and the rest of the world, where resorting to spirits is practiced only by a lower class (again, only referring to level of education/economic wealth) as in the case of New Orleans with voodoo, Brazil with white or black magic or in some countries in Africa, where spells are still common.

When walking around Centro Historico, you’ll notice healers and shamans practicing Limpias, using various instruments to achieve the purification, protection and sanction of a patient. The body is traversed head to toe with herbs, flowers, stones, candles and incense, which serve as tools to "connect" with Mother Earth. The limpia or "cleanse" cannot be complete without the sound of drums or the snail conch, which symbolize the natural elements. You’d think this is just show for tourists but the reality is its mostly CDMX locals, on their way home from the office or whilst running errands, who stand in line waiting to get their limpia.

Photo by: Istock

Photo by: Istock

At the Zócalo, a ceremony of this kind lasts about 15 minutes & costs $1 or $2 dollars, it’s up to you how much you want to pay. Your body is now ready and blessed to continue its stay on earth free of any tragedies, setbacks or ill-wishes from others. Pretty good deal if you think about it - getting your soul purified for a buck. Only in México!

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Jewish History of Mexico

Photo by: Sinagoga Justo Sierra.

Photo by: Sinagoga Justo Sierra.

I’ve been wanting to showcase the history of the Jewish people in Mexico and am so pleased to officially launch this new Morenita Tour. Here are some details:

Your guide is none other than Monica Unikel-Fasja, the director of the first synagogue in Mexico. She is the granddaughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants, and for more than 24 years, has dedicated herself to trace the legacy of Jewish migration in the early 20th century in the streets of the downtown of our Mexican capital.

Photo by: Morenita Experience.

Photo by: Morenita Experience.

Her experience led her to participate in the restoration of the Justo Sierra Synagogue, a space that for the last decade has operated as a cultural center. Monica is also the author of the book "Synagogues of Mexico" and producer of the television documentary "The synagogue of Jesus Mary and other stories".

Photo by: Sefarad Asturias.

Photo by: Sefarad Asturias.

In this guided morning walk, guests encounter the living history of neighborhoods where Armenian, Lebanese, Spaniards and Eastern European Jews cohabited. Monica will take you into what once-were Kosher butcher shops and grocery stores that sold "der alter heim" (household goods), Yiddish bakeries and houses of prayer and study.

In Jesus Maria Street, you’ll visit the old shops where Jewish tailors made socks and underwear. There too are the patios of the "vecindades" (ghettos) where the Jews nurtured their social life and learned Mexican traditions. Monica will explain how during the process of cultural adaptation, polish immigrants replaced their names with Mexican versions - for example Masha became Maria.

Photo by: Morenita Experience.

Photo by: Morenita Experience.

The grand finale of the route takes place in the same synagogue our hostess presides over. The enclosure is a faithful copy of a temple in Shavel, Lithuania. Once inside, you’ll see how it is divided into two floors: the upper gallery benches are occupied by women, while the lower ones are assigned to men and children, and in this part there are the sacred scrolls of the Torah.

Behind the bimá, the pulpit from which the prayers are directed, is an arc called "arón hakodesh", which protects the sacred texts under a blue velvet curtain.

For availability and rates on this fascinating Morenita Tour please email: info@morenitaexperience.com