Living The Dream

Once upon a long ago, I upped sticks and moved to Mexico City. I happily blended in as well as a 6 foot plus tall pasty faced Englishman can in a city of short and (mostly) dark skinned faces. I embraced the food, the culture, the people, the life and everything in between. But I missed British television. The BBC in particular. But that was no problem. There are several neferarious ways to pick up British broadcasts from around the world. Continue reading “Living The Dream”

Salsa Inglesa

There’s no ifs or buts about it. British food has quite possibly the worst reputation for cuisine around the globe. Our infamous grub is mocked, ridiculed and generally treated with sneering contempt from Toronto to Timbuktu. British meals are to fine dining what Baghdad check points are for security, what Bill O’Reilly is for fair and balanced opinion and the Greeks for fiscal responsibility.

Do we deserve such a dastardly reputation? Of course not. What would Argentine beef be without the stocks of British cattle it is produced from? Mexicans love their pastes, mostly unaware that they are nothing but misspelled Cornish pasties. London boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than Paris. And our chefs have become world famous. Gordon Ramsey, Rick Stein, Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal, Nigella Lawson and Raymond Blanc (sort of!). I know I pick up a few Mexican oriented readers. Who may perhaps be familiar with one of Mexico’s most famous culinary experts, Diana Kennedy.

The legendary Anthony Bourdain once went on a quest to uncover the root of the problem. He loves British food. He has even declared that he would like his final meal on this mortal coil to be a very traditional British dish – black pudding with a fried egg on top. I’m not sure he ever did unearth the reason for our dire reputation.

I have my own opinion. We may have some of the finest ingredients here. The best beef, the most divine venison, the freshest salmon and the tastiest cod. But a meal is not at the heart of British culture. Sitting down to eat is not an important event, as it is on the continent. It’s becoming less of a family event. It’s something we do if we have the time. It’s almost an inconvenience. As such, we’re a nation of lazy cooks, who will happily accept cheap and easy plates of comfort food. But, there is one thing we make that is a staple of dinners tables all over the world…

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I was stunned to see bottles of this on the tables of almost every Mexican taqueria I ever went in. The label declares it to be Salsa Inglesa (English Sauce) rather that Worcestershire Sauce. On account of the latter being utterly unpronounceable for most non native English speakers, methinks. It’s in a cupboard in every English kitchen. But I suspect it’s even more popular abroad.

I suspect Mexicans have the US version of the sauce, which is made from distilled white vinegar. The original UK version is made with malt vinegar. Canadians will be pleased to hear that they enjoy the original recipe.The other ingredients?  Tamarind, garlic, molasses, onions and other unspecified spices. And, of course, the key ingredient – anchovies. It’s origin? It’s very much a product of its time. A product of the British Empire.

How so? Let me explain. Or rather, let the man who once dreamed of being Prime Minister tell the tale. I enjoy watching Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys. Using his 170 year old guidebook, he has been travelling the length and breadth of the country by train. More recent programs also include some continental adventures. The book concerned is the forerunner to the more famous Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Written by a chap called Bradshaw, it described places to see and things to do when travelling by train. Ironically, it reminds me of Mexico. I used to watch episodes on my iPod Touch to while away the hours I spent on microbuses and the metro in Mexico City. I hope you can see the video I’ve embedded below, and that it isn’t restricted for viewing in the UK only. At about the seven and a half minute mark, the story of Lea and Perrins and their wonder sauce begins…

Dodgy Jammers

Mother Nature does her best to provide, she really does. But we’ve become quite blase about her efforts in 21st century Britain. We’ve entered the finest time of the year for lots of free goodies as fruits and vegetables become ripe and ready. You don’t necessarily need to grow your own. There’s an absolute ton of fruit hanging on bushes just waiting to be picked, none more commonplace than the humble (but very tasty) blackberry.

Yet every year, untold tonnes of fruit will go unpicked and rot on the plants they belong to. Because, I guess, at the end of the day you can walk into Sainsburys and pick up a jar of jam for not much more than make-your-own would cost. The most valuable commodity in the Blackberry Jam recipe is not the blackberries, the sugar, the pectin or the lemons. It’s the time it takes.

But it’s fun to make your own jam. Easy too. And it does, most definitely, taste better when it comes from your own hard work. Most supermarkets will stock the special jam sugar and sachets of pectin. A kilo of berries, a kilo of sugar, the pectin and a couple of lemons grated for zest and squeezed for juice. Heat up the blackberries and mash them. Throw in the sugar and keep stirring so that it dissolves. In goes the lemon. Bring it to the boil and give it 7 to 15 minutes.

Have a plate in the freezer well in advance. You need to find out when the jam has reached the setting point. When it’s had a good boil, dollop a little of it onto the frozen plate. It will cool quickly, and when you push against it, the jam should wrinkle. If it doesn’t, keep boiling. Once it is ready, pour it into two sterilised jars. The easiest way to sterilise a jar is to wash it out and then microwave them for a minute each.

I filled two 485 gram jars with my kilo of berries, and half filled a smaller 300 gram jar. Which is plenty of jam. You can buy jars for this purpose on the High Street or use old jars. Try and get some wax tops to lay on top of the jam if you do the latter. And if you really picked a ton of berries you can do what I did next. An Apple and Blackberry Crumble. Served with double cream the first day and custard the second. Mother Nature never tasted so good. What are you waiting for? There’s still a good couple of weeks of the picking season to go yet….

Just in case you’re wondering about the title of the post. Mrs P can’t say Jammie Dodgers. And it tickles me.

The Mexican Winner

I’ve been looking out for Mexican dining options since arriving back in the UK in 2011. Sadly, most of the restaurants I’ve found purporting to be providers of fine Mexican cuisine are non-starters. I won’t even waste my time in walking through the door. The menu displayed on the window or door tells me all I need to know – Tex Mex. Which is not, of course, Mexican. It might be a good Tex Mex restaurant, but it’s not what I’m looking for.

I held out hoped for Wahaca, following the owners TV series. But that turned out to be 99% Tex Mex too. Not real Mexican food. I’ve since discovered Benitos Hat, but the atmosphere was a little dull. And Mestizos, but the staff aren’t the friendliest and the £55 Independence Day charge was extortionate.

That leaves just Lupitas, behind Charing Cross Station on the Strand. Not cheap, but not expensive either – a fair price. Genuine Mexican food. And a Mexican atmosphere. Mexican staff! It’s a real little piece of Mexico in London. We had a booking for last night at 9.30pm, but our plans changed and we had to do dinner earlier. They were heaving, but still managed to smile and find us a table for four. Look no where else for your Mexican experience in London!

Viva Mexico  Cabrones! I hope you all had a jolly good time if you were out celebrating Hidalgo’s big night.

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The Obvious Choice

Moving back to Mexico needs planning. Short term, I pretty much know what needs to happen and how things will go. Long term? I am, after all, planning to settle permanently. Do I want to teach English for the rest of my life? I could probably scrape by comfortably enough. But I’d like to embark on something slightly more challenging, and preferably a good deal more profitable. What to do?

I’ve had a number of ideas. But there is one that stands out. Open a tea shop. A Little English Tea Shop. There’s a lot to commend the idea. The average start up in Mexico lasts two years. Except those serving up food. They have an average life expectancy of eleven years. I like those numbers.

The idea of a Little English Tea Shop appeals for a number of other, more important, reasons. It’s something that can start off small, and something that can easily grow with success. Hell, I could start off with a market stall on Alvaro Obregon. It’s something that would have a unique twist on the average coffee shop. We’d have to sell coffee, of course. Hot chocolate too. But tea would be the selling point. English tea, herbal tea, every tea. We’d serve it in tea pots. And in winter, we’d clothe the tea pots with a tea cosy.

Scones too. Lots of scones. With jam and clotted cream. We could sell bags of scones to take away. Tubs of clotted cream too. And jars of real English jams. I’d serve up other sugary English desserts too. I make a mean Apple Crumble. And who can resist a Spotted Dick with custard? I’ve tried out my custard on students. They found it most agreeable. Mexicans do have a sweet tooth too. I had thought of cupcakes too, but it appears I’ve been beat to that market. But then again, I think English cupcakes might have added appeal.

They’ll take away bags of tea in decorative little packs as well. Hot chocolate too. Mexicans invented hot chocolate. The English turned it into a solid bar for eating. Then we made a drinkable version, and we do that pretty good. It’ll be a bit like selling sand back to the Saudis, but I’m game for a challenge. Besides, I’ll have a nice selection of out of date English magazines and newspapers with BBC Radio 2 playing softly in the background.

This would be just the beginning. We would be selling on Englishness. Our ceramics industry has gone from one that supplied the world, to a borderline cottage enterprise. But we still make great ceramics. We could sell dinner sets and plates of a multitude of designs. With commemorative issues for Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter, Harry Wales and the other royals who get wed or dead. It’s be pricey and exclusive stuff.

If it sells it’ll be profitable. Having seen the silly fortunes that the growing middle-class spend on inferior crap in Palacio and Liverpool, I am confident it is a viable proposition. I just need the location. Someone small but visible in Coyoacan or Colonia Roma would make a nice start. But I guess a space in a mall like Perisur would be where the money is at. But anyway. It’s something for me to ponder. The photo below looks great. I took it on Portabello Road in London. I could see it working well in a trendy part of DF though.

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The List

Did you ever see the movie Up? It’s an animation, but the first five minutes or so are so brilliantly done. It’s the story of Carl and Eddie and their life together. But most importantly of their dream to go to Paradise Falls. Well, it’s Ellie’s dream. But Carl’s dream is to fulfil Ellie’s dreams, so it’s a shared dream. Never seen it? You must. I insist. At least the first five minutes…

Mrs P and I don’t have anything quite as glamourous as Paradise Falls on our list. But we have a few ‘must-see’ places to go before we return to Mexico. She wants to see a castle. She’s like to see Windsor or Leeds castles. She’ll probably see Warwick castle. It’s a good ‘un. I want to watch England play at Wembley. There’s only one match left there before the  Euros, against Belgium – I’d best start thinking about that.

But our version of Paradise Falls is Oxford. Not just because it’s cheap and easy to get to from Bournemouth. Not only because of the university and surrounding ancient town. In fact, neither of those are the real attractions. For me, it’s Blenheim Palace. I went there as a kid. I’d like to go again. If you ask me, it’s the finest palace in the land, and this land has a few fine palaces.

For Paola, it’s to visit (and preferably eat!) at Le Manoir. The restaurant is owned by Raymond Blanc, the legendary French chef. She is a fan. A big fan. She is sat reading one of his books as I write this. A visit to Le Manoir, though, is very much Paradise Falls stuff in one regard. We need a little glass jar to start saving our coins. The cheapest eat there is a five course lunch at £75 (MXN 3000) per person. Without coffee, wine, bread or tips. Raymond had better be on duty when we make it there, and he’d best be on form…!

Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant

I should be careful when writing blog posts. One never knows who might read it. I recently wrote an unflattering post about Wahaca, a chain of Mexican restaurants in London, only to find a comment left by the inspiration behind the concept. I did reply to her, rather humbly given that I’d been a bit rude in the post.

In that reply I made a few suggestions about how I thought Wahaca, or any Mexican restaurant, should be. There should be Mexican music, for a start. Some Mexican staff would also be nice. But most of all there should be Mexican food. I pointed out that it would be great to see “enchiladas, tacos al pastor, nopales, chicharon de queso, tlayuda, barbacoa and carnitas on the menu”. 

Actually, how can someone call a Mexican restaurant a Mexican restaurant when none of those key meals is on offer? While the restaurants get a fair bit of praise, I’m not the only one who has noticed the downsides. I went through the menu with Paola – once we’d knocked off the Tex Mex dishes, there wasn’t an awful lot left to comment on. That was a big part in why I referred to the place as a ‘corporate sell-out’.

I also mentioned that my wife visited another Mexican restaurant in London, very near Charing Cross Station. It’s called Lupita. She took me there yesterday. It was everything a Mexican restaurant should be. And everything Wahaca isn’t.  We sat down in the corner underneath a photo of Torre Latinoamericana. We gave our order to a Mexican waiter, in Spanish. A former resident of DF, no less. And we forgave him the fact that he supports Club America. And we watched the chefs cooking in their open plan kitchen in the middle of the restaurant.

We listened to a mix of Mexican music. There was a little mariachi, a little Luis Miguel. We’ll also forgive the brief interlude courtesy of the Gypsy Kings. Then the food arrived. Paola had nopales. I had a generously proportioned chicharron de queso with a mound of guacamole. Both were perfect. We looked at dishes being served to other happy diners, many of whom were clearly regulars. They were the real deal.

Lupitas get’s an unreserved thumbs up from me. It was an excellent restaurant serving real Mexican food in a very Mexican environment. We’ll be back. Thomasina of Wahaca mentioned in her comment that she eats at her restaurants regularly. My suggestion today is that she not eat at one of her restaurants but eats at Lupita’s instead. She may have to wait for a table, because it gets busy in there, but it’s worth it. And it’s proof that there is a market for real, authentic Mexican grub in London.

For just a few minutes in that restaurant, I was taken back to the happy days I lived in Mexico City. The music was right, the smells delicious, the noises were recognisably unrecognisable, the pictures on the walls were perfect. I thought, as I sat staring out the window at the snow falling through the sky, that I was almost home.

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Mexican Food In London

A few months ago I included a bit about the Wahaca restaurant chain that had opened up in the UK with several branches around London. I gave it a reserved thumbs up. Reserved, because not everything on the menu was entirely authentic. Some of the stuff we ordered was a bit bleugh. But some was close to the mark. I described it as being easily the best Mexican food available in London. I should have qualified that a bit more. Perhaps I should have said that they are better that the competition, all of which are completely s%#t.

I have an update to post though. Paola recently went into the Covent Garden restaurant. It was worse that the Canary Wharf branch. Indeed, it was on a par with the competition. So completely s%#t. Except, Paola then went to one of the competitors. Lupita, near Charing Cross. How’s this for authenticity – Mexican staff. That was one of the obvious things missing from Wahaca that lead me to say that the place was devoid of the ‘Mexican experience’ there.

Paola liked the food, and she is fussy. It was pricey though. She brought me back a couple of tacos al pastor to sample. And yep, Lupita now ranks as my number one Mexican in London. I say this with great confidence, despite never having been there. Because those tacos were good. But again, one must bear in mind the standard of the competition. Completely s%#t.

One final word on Wahaca. We originally went there having seen a TV series starring Tomasina Miers (the founder of Wahaca) called Mexican Food Made Simple. She’s clearly passionate about cooking. She clearly knows about Mexican cooking. She’s a smart lady. She knows a taco from a turd alright.

So what went wrong? The same thing that has gone wrong with a big chunk of our economy if you ask me. Corporatism. Which is to capitalism what communism is to socialism. In my opinion. She’s sold out to corporatism.  They’ve put the cash into her business, and want the maximum return, quick. Which means you end up with a product that appeals to the lowest common denominator, set  at a high price that reflects how many people are pocketing the profits and not what the product really justifies.

It means you end up with bog standard National Minimum Wage-eque standards of service and the atmosphere of a factory. There’s no personal touch, not is there personality. That’s the exact opposite of how many restaurants work in Mexico. That’s the exact opposite of how many things work in Mexico. Tailoring, medical services, repair stores and many more. There’s more consistency in the corporate world. But little excellence.

Shame on you Tomasina. You could have made it big yourself. In a smaller way. In a more dignified way. Over a longer period of time. In a more soulful way. And Wahaca could have been great. But it’s not. Please don’t try and tell me otherwise. I had six years to learn tacos from turds, and you’ll not fool me. But I still like your TV shows and YouTube videos.

Full English Taco

I love tacos. Providing they’re good tacos. Anyone who’s been visited by Montezumas Revenge cant attest that there are such things as bad tacos. No matter how delicious they might taste at the time. But there are, amongst the tens of thousands of taquerias in the Distrito Federal, good ‘uns and bad ‘uns. I had my favourites. And there were a few I avoided.

I guess the English version of the taqueria is the traditional cafe serving up a full English breakfast.  Even in the darkest days of British cuisine, when our food was mocked and ridiculed and its reputation was at its lowest point, most people – locals and visitors alike –  still agreed that a full English breakfast was a gastronomical treat. Greasy? Oh yes. Heart attack in every bite? Too true. Simple fare? Anyone can fry one up.

Like taquerias, you can find good cafes and bad cafes. No one wants sausages full of gristle, plastic bacon, soggy fried bread and overcooked eggs.  And a full English should always, but always, have a slice or two of black pudding. Breakfast just isn’t breakfast in this country if there isn’t some congealed blood on the plate.

I found a good ‘un at the weekend. I’d walked past before, without enough cash in my pocket to be able to make a stop. The smell of frying bacon tormented my senses, but alas. It had to wait. Till last weekend. The cafe in question is, rather ironically to my mind, located in a large nature reserve  Where people go for healthy walks. And then undo all that hard cardio work with every bite. But it’s such a good bite. Here’s a photo of my breakfast. Pre-bite…

Is a full English breakfast as good as a taco? I guess it depends on what’s in the taco. But above all, it depends on the location. On a frosty, sub zero morning in an English forest, I suspect a taco just wouldn’t quite do.

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England Expects

And England has had higher expectations than most, since one of the most famous Englishmen of them all sent those flags up the pole. With the traditional exception of food, of course. Britain hasn’t been famed for the culinary prowess of its chefs, not until recently, anyway. Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White and Jamie Oliver are turning the tide of international public perceptions, gradually. America chef Anthony Bourdain has done his bit too. You can watch his London to Edinburgh documentary on YouTube – parts 1, 2 and 3.

As far as eating in England is concerned I have mixed expectations when I dine out. There is a fabulous range of international restaurants to choose from in London. It has become, along with New York and a few other US cities, one of the best places in the world to go for a good meal. There are still plenty of rotten establishments, and selecting your venue for the evening can be full of hidden pitfalls. Food poisoning being one of the main pitfalls. Outrageously bad service being another.

Paola and I ate out at a few locations last week during our trip up town. But three stood out. First stop was Kumo in Knightsbridge. I’d bought a Groupon for £18 which entitled us to a platter for 2, plus desserts. The photos on Groupon looked nice. The price for a meal for two in prestigious Knightsbridge was equally appealing. The reviews I read about the place online, especially from Groupon voucher customers, were not so promising. My expectations were very low. I could see a pair of Tesco’s sushi rolls, a pinch of rice and a miserly scoop of supermarket brand vanilla ice cream awaiting us. But the joy of having such low expectations is that you’re rarely disappointed.

The bar/restaurant was in a basement, which was one of the gripes reviewers had had about the place. But I thought it was a very well appointed basement, in a thoroughly charming street in a particularly delightful part of town. The platter was of a reasonably generous size. Paola’s cocktail, at an extra cost of £5 was delicious. We left Kumo upbeat and satisfied. Would we return, or recommend it? What we got was great for £18. The normal price was nearer £60. And frankly, that’s a bit steep for us. But it does all depend on one’s expectations. If you have an hour to kill before viewing that nice penthouse in Mayfair, and a positive ton of shopping loaded in your Harrods bags, and really don’t want to walk far, then it’s not such a bad place.

Second stop was Wahaca. The spelling might look unfamilar, but the pronunciation sounds just right. It’s a small, and relatively new, chain of Mexican restaurants. The owner is Thomasina Miers, a Masterchef winner and Mexican street food fanatic. Her restaurants came onto our radar when we watched her Mexican Food Made Simple series on Channel 5 earlier this year. It was a fun show, and a lot more authentic than most Mexican cookery programmes. Our expectations were high. Which is always a sure fire way to disappointment. The Horchata arrived. Watery and a bit urgh. The menu wasn’t that expansive and featured some pretty Tex Mex stuff.

But there were some real Mexican tacos there. I chose cochinita and chicken in a mole sauce. Not cheap, but not pricey. And they did taste just right. I’d describe Wahaca as easily the best Mexican restaurant in the UK. But there was something missing from this restaurant. The Mexican experience. The sound of chattering Spanish voices. The beep beep of car horms. The hum of the city. I was tempted to cough up something nasty and spit on the floor, just to contribute what I could to the genuine Mexican street market experience. But I didn’t think it would go down that well.

Third stop was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. We’ve been there twice before. We have a Tastecard, which entitles us to a 2 for 1 discount. And the burgers are the finest I’ve had in London. they have restaurants all over the place. this is one restaurant I go into with high expectations, which have been met, so far, on every occasion.

Mexican Wobbly Ginger Tosser

That’s a headline that should, in theory, grab some attention. But there’s no slur or slander involved. First impressions may count, but shouldn’t be counted on. Because today’s quick scribble is inspired by a story and a day out, with England meeting Mexico in a beerfest of a post.

The story, published on the Herald.net, starts “A teetotaling Mexican hotel worker travels to England, befriends a whisky-drinking Irishman and scrubs toilets in a pub while learning to brew killer beer.” Mexicans love their ceveza, and so does the rest of the world. The country is the world’s 5th biggest producer or exporter. I don’t remember which, but no matter. The point is, they’re a big player, producing in the Premier League along with the likes of Germany, the Netherlands, the Aussies and the English.

Dare I mention US beer? It generally has a terrible reputation outside of the country, although I can tolerate a Miller Genuine Draft. Seeing as I’ve spent so much time in Milwaukee. Just a half, mind you. At most. By and large I’m a tee-totaller. I’m sure ‘tea-totaller’ must be an American word, even if I’ve used the double ‘l’ Anglicised spelling. In England I believe the correct word is ‘freak’.

I love the smell of beer though, and if I am going to imbibe a little, my favourite tipple is a mild ale. Another sign of me getting old, I fear. I used to drive past a local brewery every day, and would open the visor of my helmet to breathe in the warm, malty aroma that seeped from the place.

And just a week ago I attended the 2nd Big Bournemouth Beer Festival, with more than 200 ales, porters, bitters and ciders from around the British Isles available for tasting. I didn’t get terribly far.  Including smaller samples to supplement the two halves I purchased, I think I got through just five. But it was still worth the visit.

The free taster’s booklet was fantastic. It listed everything that was on tap, complete with barmy names and dubious descriptions. ‘A pale straw coloured ale with a strong citrus hop aroma’ gives you an idea of what to expect when downing Barngates’ Cat Nap. I can dig that description. But there were some frankly bizarre examples. One had as many twists and turns as Coronation Street, apparently. How many beers had been drunk and just how sozzled that reviewer was remains a mystery. But I can guess.

But it’s the names of English beers that I really like. Pheasant Plucker, Sheepshaggers Gold and Fenny Popper don’t strike me as drinks that would go terribly well with Brewer’s Droop. The latter might go well with a Skinner’s Ginger Tosser. A combination that is, I imagine, less embarrassing. Although probably better in the long term than having a run in with Potton’s Village Bike. Bitter and Twisted and Whingers Bitter are highly recommended for England football fans after their latest flop in a major tournament. They’d also probably appreciate a pint or three of Northumberland Bucking Fastard. Just to help get things off their chest. And I’m really not making these names up, by the by.

But back to the story of Mexicans learning the microbrewery trade and taking it back home. I think it’s a great idea. It’s a part of the beer producing industry that hasn’t been exploited very much in Mexico, but I’m sure there’s a market for it. I mean, people are still swilling millions of gallons of pulque for goodness sake.

But they need to come up with some imaginative names for their new brews. A Tepito Tit Whacker anyone? How about a Tlalpan Saucy Surprise? My imagination is running low. Any pithy suggestions are welcome in the comments section. Or you could seek out Jose Morales and see if you can impress him enough to have your literary genius bottled.

Tacuba Tacos

One of the first, if not the first and most important issue for poor souls who have departed Mexico – where to find some decent tacos? The internet has churned up a few results. All Tex Mex imposter food, in the main. It’s not just ‘not quite the same’. It’s barely even similar. But lo and behold, if you look hard enough spend long enough looking at random webpages, you’re bound to find what you were, or weren’t, looking for in the end. And so it may have happened with my search for genuine Mexican cuisine.

Groupon seems to have taken off big time in the UK. It exists in Mexico, but like most internet sites that need you to enter credit card details, it hasn’t made quite as big a splash. But I’ve signed up for Groupon on this side of the Atlantic, and the very first deal thrown my way? A real Mexican restaurant, in London. In Balham, South London, a town I used to live in. On Belford Road, a street I didn’t used to wander up. It was, once upon a time anyway, better known for attracting ladies of the night.

Tacubabar, apparently, serves up genuine Mexican street food. The menu looks authentic enough. Tacuba, if I remember rightly, means ‘place of flowers’ or something similar. Nowadays it is known as a town, with a metro station. And lots of street food outside it. It has some reputation. Everyone has heard of the Tacuba Two Step Taco. That’s how far you get before your body, whether you want it to or not, expels the street tacos through the nearest available orifice. Or all orifices. Someone mentioned in a comment recently that the word ‘projectile’ spices up a post. Tacuba is the place to go for your projectile needs and desires.

One imagines that the Tacuba in London aims higher, and I do mean that regards standards and quality, and not with any reference to any Guinness Book projectile vomiting records. It looks enticing. The price of the Groupon offer looks enticing too. Alas, it will have to wait till I have a proper job before I get to review it personally. But if anyone in London happens to read this in the next 9 hours or so before the offer expires, I can vouch for the authenticity of the menu. It does look genuine Mexican. And genuine Mexican is good. At £19 for two, £9.50 each, it’s worth a punt I reckon. And you should come back here and tell me how it went.

A Xochimilco Farewell

Tomorrow is my last full day in DF. Yesterday my last trip to Xochimilco. The Diorama setting on the Art Scene dial worked well, I thought. The food and drink did not. For me, anyway. Everyone else enjoyed, but my stomach was still fragile to say the least. Not the ideal final weekend, but such is life. I had a Marmite sandwich instead. I shared some with the in-laws. In the UK, you either love or hate the stuff. Here, they just hate it, but are far too polite to say so, and will finish it off. Usually. Paola’s godfather couldn’t quite restrain himself though. His mouth dropped open in disgust, and he looked around before hissing ‘Help me!’ Pamela the dog sniffed it, but refused. Very unMexican of her. The photos of the day are, as ever, on Flickr – click here.

Pig Sick

Carnitas. Chunks of pork wrapped in a tortilla, a little onion and cilantro. Delicious. Delectable. Deadly. Within a couple of hours of chomping on a couple of the tacos, I was feeling a bit off. I didn’t sleep the whole night, as I felt worse. I tried to sleep in the spare room at first, then on the living room floor with my head hanging out the patio door. Fever had hit. But sunrise my carnitas had exited the way they had entered. It came as no surprise. A few hours later what wasn’t expelled forced an exit via the same route. Is this all too much information?

But the fever burned on, until late in the evening when my stubborn refusal to go to the doctor was beat. I waddled in, got checked over, had my 100+ temperature ummed and erred over and left with a prescription for several packets of pills. Bless the make of anti biotics. By morning the fever was gone.

The photo below is from the guilty establishment. I had taken it thinking of post about  how I’ll miss the city’s taquerias. The ability to stop on almost any corner for a cheap feast. It didn’t work out like that. Right now the thought of carnitas has my stomach churning in a not good way. In fact anything in a tortilla makes me want to gag. Just as well this happened a couple of days before I leave, not a couple of days after I arrived. One thing is for sure. Whilst the Tres Coyotes taqueria has a long history and is very popular, it gets a serious thumbs down from me.