Calabaza de Castilla on display at the Mercado Medellín, Colonia Roma, Mexico City, October 2013. A winter squash (this particular example measured 16" or more in diameter), it has the hardest shell imaginable. I suspect that it had been cut in half using a band saw; no ordinary knife could have sliced through it so beautifully.
Ah, Michoacán, how I miss your flavors! This enormous taco de carnitas from Quiroga (with a slice of brilliant yellow pickled chile perón on the side) went a long way toward being just the 'fix' I needed in early November. True confession: I ate two of them. Michoacán's carnitas (huge hunks of pork, long-cooked in boiling lard) really can't be replicated at home. Although you might find some recipes on the Internet that will try to tell you how to make a small batch, you really need to come with me to Michoacán to eat the real thing.
From the sublimely traditional taco de carnitas to the equally sublime but completely modern star menu item at Hamburguesas Richard's in Morelia. Just looking at this photo makes my mouth water: Richard's prepares hamburgers just right: this one is a double, with two freshly made beef patties, a slice of melting yellow cheese, a slice of gooey white cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced grilled onions, a touch of mustard, and condiments to add at table--including chiles toreados (chiles serrano, sautéed in oil along with finely sliced white onion until the chiles' skin blisters) and meant to be eaten on the side, bite by bite till smoke comes out your ears. Add to your hamburger: mayonnaise, crema de mesa (Mexican table cream), chile Valentina (Mexico's ubiquitous bottled red salsa), more mustard, or a shot of catsup, and WOW. A side of fries (ask for them bien doradas (crispy-fried) and eat them like I do: dipped in a squeeze of chile Valentina that you've mixed into mayonnaise.
Currently in season at Mexico City's Mercado San Juan: percebes (goose barnacle). These strangely beautiful crustaceans are hugely popular in Spain and Portugal, but this was the first I'd seen them in the market. Here's a recipe, if goose barnacles are available where you shop: percebes.
Bright red maguey cactus worms. These creatures, known here in Mexico as chinicuiles, are a pre-Hispanic delicacy that's still popular today. They are the inch-and-a-half-to-two-inch long larvae of a type of butterfly that lives in the leaves, heart, and roots of the maguey cactus; typically, the larvae are in season from May until the end of October--approximately the rainy season in central Mexico. More true confessions: although chef-friends have tried to convince me of the delicious flavor of these worms, I have never eaten one; it's impossible for me to get past the...well, enough said. I have never eaten one.
More from the Mercado San Juan! These are pichones (squabs), with part of their plumage intact. Pichón is the word used for young pigeons; it's also used in its diminutive (pichoncito) to refer to someone who is (or who wants to appear) still young. "Tengo 84 años ya." "Tú? No puede ser! Sigues de pichoncito!" 'I'm 84 years old.' 'You? That can't be! You're still just barely hatched!'
A beguiling trompe l'oeil bluebird, perched on a light switch at Rosetta, the popular and elegant northern Italian restaurant in Colonia Roma.
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