Mexico City

Eat Mexico Street Food Tour

Before heading to Mexico City, I did a quick google search for food tour companies. Eat Mexico popped right up and looked like a great group of people to work with. I got on the phone with them immediately and planned to photograph a their street food tour. It was a fantastic tour, but in hindsight, this was the most difficult shoot of the trip.

It was fast, with crazy light. Jackietara and I were working so quickly that most of the time I wasn't sure if we got anything before moving on. It was all on the streets on a very sunny day. Shoot for 5 minutes, grab a taco or whatever, and start walking to the next spot. Out of control.

When I finally gathered the courage to sit down and edit, fearing the worst from a set of images that I had promised to share, something great happened. They were raw, but the pictures represented who I was as a photographer.  I snuck up on myself. With no time to think or plan, my vision shone through and saved me. For me, that's how I know it's really mine.

lens blog teddywolff-1.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-3.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-5.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-6.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-7.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-8.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-10.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-9.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-12.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-11.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-13.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-20.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-21.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-16.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-17.jpg
lens blog teddywolff-19.jpg

Birria and a Bullfight

On Wednesday I took a guided street food tour through a company called Eat Mexico (more on this in another post). It was fantastic, in no small part due to our guide Francisco de Santiago. Aside from his enormous knowledge of Mexican cuisine, he is also a former professional bullfighter. I have been curious about bullfights and the culture of food around them since arriving here, so when he offered to take me to a special fight that was happening on a thursday night, I jumped at the chance. It didn't hurt that in the same breath he said that we would meet up early to eat birria, from a vendor that only sells it on bullfight days, outside the stadium. He also said his father had taken him to the same place as a child.

Wait, how old is this place? What's birria?

Bull Fight-3.jpg
Bull Fight-1.jpg

Birria is the single best thing I have had to eat in Mexico. It is basically a goat stew in which everything is diced very finely but I still don't understand exactly how it's made. I think the ingredients are all prepped in advance so that they can be combined and served up nearly instantly to hungry fight-goers who are eager to get to their seats. You can take big bites of meat and onion, slurp the broth, strain out the solids for tacos, add salsa for even more depth of flavor, or lime for more brightness to cut through the rich goat. There are a million ways to eat this stuff and none of them is really better than the others. You can't go wrong. This is an old school one pot dish but it is a chameleon of flavors.

About the vendor at Plaza de Toros. It turns out they the same family has been cranking birria out of this spot at basically every bullfight for the past 60 years. That is the same amount of time that McDonalds has been a franchise. But 60 years really just has to do with how long this bullring (the largest in the world) has been open. Apparently the family has been making it for well over 100 years. This bowl of soup is a national treasure. It should be in the museum of regional fast food that doesn't suck. Unlike McDonalds.

Bull Fight-14.jpg


Whatever your feelings about the institution of bullfighting, when you actually go to one, you see there is a lot more going on than the fight. It's like a baseball game. Do you go to watch baseball? Sort of. But it's equally about the experience of community. Everyone sits down together, grabs a drink, and breaks bread. On that level at least, it's pretty great.

Bull Fight-10.jpg
Bull Fight-16.jpg
Bull Fight-19.jpg
Bull Fight-23.jpg
Bull Fight-22.jpg
Bull Fight-26.jpg

Regarding the killing of the bulls, all of the meat is butchered in the stadium as soon and the animal is brought out of the ring. Every bit is used. So I ask myself, is it really worse than the practices of industrial slaughterhouses?

Mercado de Medellin in Colonia Roma

I wish I could shop like this in DC. 

Mercado Mendellin-1.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-2.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-3.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-8.jpg

I also wish I could eat like this in DC.

Mercado Mendellin-4.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-5.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-6.jpg
Mercado Mendellin-7.jpg

But this place takes it up a notch. As in many markets around the world, you can have it both ways. Need groceries but don't want to shop on an empty stomach? No problem. Slide into a plastic chair over by the fish dudes and tuck into a healthy portion of octopus or ceviche. Or sidle up to the bar by the butchers for a steak and potatoes kind of affair. Then buy a pound of figs for a dollar or whatever because produce might as well be free.

Mercado Mendellin-11.jpg

And who wants to shop sober? Along with the usual suspects they have crazy drinks like the Morenaza Cubana, which reminds me of a Baltimore Margarita (Natty Boh in an Old Bay rimmed glass) but packs a bigger punch. If you are playing along at home you will need the following: dark, light, or amber lager, lemon juice, salt (rim), mezcal, and some unidentified spice blend that tastes exactly like old bay. Served over a few ice cubes. It's messy and ugly but would be so good with blue crabs and corn on the cob in the summer. We will meet again, delicious brew.

Another good option, find the guys that just finished work at their stalls and drink mezcal with them.

Mercado Mendellin-12.jpg