It’s entirely possible that my country may face my adopted home in the second knockout round of the World Cup, but this is a comparison of cuisine not football. And this is more of a pugilistic bout, as I put them together to two spar a little to find a winner.
I’ve never been a fan of English food – yep, one more to add to the other 6 billion who think English food sucks. But it does have some strong points. So commence the battle on a 10 point must system that boxing afficionados from both nations will be familiar with…
Round 1 – Breakfast
The opening battle is a toughie. I love Barbacoa in Mexico on a weekend morning. The tenderest lamb you can find, full of flavour and wrapped in fresh tortillas with chilli sauce, chopped onion and a dash of parsley. Alternatively, you could partake a breakfast of Heuvos Revueltos Mexicana – scrambled eggs with ham, onion, chilli and refried beans with a topping of grated cheese with nachos.
A fierce attack straight from the bell indeed, but England can answer those shots with it’s traditional Full english, surely? Bacon, sausages, eggs, onions, mushrooms, black pudding, bread all fried in an inch of grease to perfection. Not healthy (you can feel your heart thump in protest with every fat saturated bite), but it does taste sooo good. And toast and marmalade to finish if you still have room….
It’s a close first round, and I score it 10-10, a draw.
Round 2 – Elevenses
You know how it is. You’ve done a few hours work, and breakfast has been well digested, but it’s not quite lunch time yet. What you need is a nice hot Sausage Roll, or maybe a Cornish pasty. In fact any one of a huge range of goodies from your local bakers. And why not finish it off with a cake filled with fresh cream!
Mexico has plenty of bakers (panaderias) but to be honest they don’t produce anything to match a cream tea. Cakes tend to be hard and the cream of the ultra long life and flavourless variety. If you want a snack, your best bet is a street vendor dishing out tacos. They can be tasty (and highly damaging to your gut if you pick the wrong one!) but it’s not a unique meal…they are there for breakfast and still there long after most people have gone to bed.
This round is Englands, and decidedly so…. 10-8
If you like your food spicy, Mexico is your heaven. Chillis with everything. And lunch time is no different….whether you want some beef, chicken or pork tacos, or can find your way to a restaurant dishing up Oaxaca cuisine. I recommend their pizza type meals – huge circular thin breads covered in meats, beans and cheeses.
What is a typical English lunch though? Well I guess a Cheese Ploughmans and Jacket Potatos are perhaps good examples, and it has to be said that English cheeses have Mexico’s varieties well and truly beaten. A nice crusty English loaf is hard to beat too, but there is a more limited range of traditional English grub that you would eat for lunch. Go look at any Pub blackboard….it’s all Lasagne and other foreign stuff these days!
Mexico pulls back level with a 10-8 here.
This is where it all really goes wrong for England. Pick your meat and add three or four boring tasteless vegetables prepared in the most boring way, and covered with Bisto ‘Make It All Taste The Same’ Gravy. The quality of English meat tends to be higher (if you pay for it – there is the cheap gristly stuff I suppose) and Toad in the Hole, traditional Fish ‘n’ Chips and fillet steak are the only things preventing a knockout and instant Mexican victory.
Mexico has Cochinita from the Yucatan, a delicious pork dish (and I would describe the pork as being top quality stuff, even if their arrachera steaks aren’t), pozoles, which are soups so substantial they are a meal to themselves, tacos of every variety you can imagine and then a thousand more, regional dishes galore….the list would take a book to complete. So many different salsa’s, so many different flavours, so much wonderful fruit and vegetables and all cooked in so many wonderful ways.
This is a one sided round, and England are lucky the three knockdowns in a round rule isn’t in effect or it would be all over…..10-6
Another disappointing round for England. Take Chinese and Indian takeaways out of the equation and what else is found on offer. I’ve already used Fish n Chips for dinner, so I’ll have to settle on Cheese on Toast. My own personal after pub favourite.
In Mexico the choice is still endless. If you have tired of tacos, you can always grab a Tamale, ground corn wrapped in a leaf and filled with a sauce or even mole (pronounced molay and made from chillis and often chocolate – bizarre and tasty all in one!). But I personally go for a hot corn on the cob, with a layer of mayo and sprinkled with cheese, chilli and lemon.
Another Mexican round, 10 to 8.
England without doubt has finer puddings, a grander range of beers and ciders and if frozen meals are your thing…well. But Mexico again has a few blows to lay. Tequila, fine wines from Baja California and the worldwide famour lagers that are Corona and Sol.
An even 10 – 10 draw in the last round as England retains its dignity. But it’s a lost cause, as the judge (me!) awards Mexico the bout 58 to 52. A comfortable win, and deserved and I have to say the best food I have come across during my global travels. Although the curries of Sri Lanka do come close, and Budapest truly surprised me with some absolutely wonderful food.