How Mexico Made Me Love Breakfast - Life in the Kitchen

How Mexico Made Me Love Breakfast - Life in the Kitchen
From The Kitchn - December 5, 2017

Brits do not do breakfast well, with the exception of the high-calorie, artery-clogging full English. But that is not something to be consumed all the time.

On an everyday basis, our breakfast offerings are remarkably sad. Our typical morning meal options run the gamut from beige to slightly less beige, including but not limited to flaccid slices of toast topped with rubbery microwaved eggs (my mum's propensity to scramble eggs in the microwave has, in all likelihood, ruined my enjoyment of them forever), a bowl of soggy cornflakes floating in a sea of milk, an uninspiring dollop of porridge, or a sad cereal bar grabbed with haste on our way out of the door.

Is it really any wonder, then, that I spent my formative years valuing 15 more minutes in bed?

However, come 2014, my breakfast-shunning ways were put on hold, after a move to Mexico opened my eyes to real Mexican cuisine beyond the misleadingly marketed Tex-Mex chimichangas and fajitas of my British youth.

Every morning, as the street vendors of Mexico sprang into action, readying themselves to hawk their breakfast wares to weary Mexican commuters and a steady stream of irritatingly bright-eyed tourists, I'd amble outside to get my mitts on some morning sustenance.

I soaked up the glorious tackiness of floral oilcloths thrown lovingly over plastic tables, and gawked curiously at the weighty silver vats (or giant woven baskets) of steaming breakfast snacks carefully positioned at the side of the road, while perching myself on one of the many plastic stools scattered haphazardly along the pavement.

To this day, the original grab-and-go breakfast, the tamal, is still the undisputed Mexican breakfast champion in my mind. Your tamal choices are twofold: the corn husk-wrapped, vaguely crumbly variation, which is liable to lose all structural integrity as you hurriedly shove it in your gob on the overcrowded metro (much to the displeasure of your carriage mates), or the firmer, denser and sweeter tamal oaxaqueo, whose fillings often take it upon themselves to bubble up and out of their corn confines.

If I felt this doughy slab of early morning comfort food would not give me quite the carb boost I needed, however, I'd level up and order my tamal in a plain bread roll instead. Sure, a torta de tamal, or guajolota, may sound both bland and vaguely monstrous, but it's deceptively delicious.

Of course, you always have to counter a guajolota's tendency to sit heavily in your stomach, provoking an infamous mal de puerco (read: I ate too much and now I need a nap), by ordering a coffee too. Give the overly sugared, disconcertingly milky Nescafe a miss, and pick up a cinnamon-spiked, piloncillo-sweetened (raw cane sugar) caf de olla instead.


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