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Taste Treats to Try

Published Sep 12, 2005 - (Updated Jul 6, 2012)


Eating and drinking in the street is an entrenched part of Mexican culture, so it's a natural when you're busy having fun to just grab something and keep on going.

The warm weather here intensifies thirst, so quench it with a hit of vitamin C at one of the town's many fresh juice bars. Made in front of you in every flavor under the sun, including mango and papaya, it's usually served, strangely enough, in a plastic bag, the straw pointing heavenward through the knot. (Keep your eyes open and you'll even see people sipping beer or pop out of these featherweight, clear receptacles rather than fork over a bottle deposit.) Fruit blended with water or milk - not to be confused with milkshakes where ice cream is added - is a licuado. And aguas frescas are refreshingly light drinks prepared by steeping jamaica, hibiscus, tamarindo or other ingredients - including the most popular flavors, rice and lemon - in water and then chilling it. The Michoacana chain is recommended, also for its top-quality paletas (popsicles) and helados (ice cream), as is Bing, another Mexican franchise of long standing.

Coconut milk flows at primitive sidewalk stands after the nut is deftly severed with a machete, the impressive implement later hacking the meat into manageable portions. The adventurous will want to try tejuino, made from fermented corn, and tuba, from fermented palm hearts. And, happily for caffeine junkies, to-go java jolts are everywhere, Mexico one of the world's largest coffee producers.

Elote, corn on a skewer or kernels in a cup with cream and sprinkled cheese or limon (a lemon-lime hybrid) and chili powder is popular and easy to manage as you walk, as are churros, long, twisty, fried donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and served in paper bags. In the afternoon heat, raspados are sheer delight, like snow cones but with infinitely more flavor choices.

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