Friday, September 9, 2011

Sopa de Menudo

I've been letting things slide as of late but my mind is still on Mexico. Don't leave me.

As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, the central market in Oaxaca City is a rather touristy affair. It's certainly worth a visit but it can be a bit stressful owing to the plethora of vendors trying to sell you trinkets and the rather inflated prices. The market seems more focused on tourists than it does on the quality of its produce and prepared food. Maybe I'm jaded as the vendors, but having people wave menus at me usually is a sign that I want to be somewhere else. However, there is one corner of the market more or less uninterested with tourism and that's what I want to talk about today.

Soon after entering the market one encounters rows of counter seating surrounding small kitchens. There must be half a dozen or so of these comedores and they all serve the same thing and one thing only: Sopa de menudo.
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My first weekend in Oaxaca city I noticed the popularity of these stalls while the rest of the market seemed a little sleepy. These stalls were jumpin' and it was hard to get a seat. Maybe many folks were nursing hangovers (I might have been), or maybe they simply come for the quality of the soup.
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This is a salty, spicy and rich broth which bathes a variety of cow parts of which you can choose your favorites. Eating this soup reminded me of my love of what many Americans might think of as strange meat, but I truly love the different tastes and textures from the various parts of the animal. I can guaran-fucking-tee you that a cow is made up of more than just steak and ribs, fatty.
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A stack of tortillas, a bowl of cow parts, a savory broth and a receding headache sound like heaven right about now.
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It goes without saying that a market stall that sells one thing and one thing only better get it right. Imagine stumbling to this stall nursing a debilitating headache and finding the soup or the meat sub par. People wouldn't stand for it, the stall will be under visited and they would close. When there's only one thing to be had and folks crowd around to get in on the action while ignoring the rest of the other stall you know you've found something good. 

I went to Oaxaca looking forward to a variety of foods that the state is justifiably famous for. Once again, it was something totally unexpected that keeps popping into my head several weeks later. Something to think about.

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