Evening snack, with bonus canids!

November 5, 2012 • 7:19 pm

I arrived back from the ruins of Teotihuacan impressed but famished: climbing two big pyramids stokes the appetite. After an evening return to Mexico City, I scoured the streets near the hotel, hoping to score some tacos al pastor, but the fast-food joints close early.  Fortunately, I found a store purveying tortas, the Mexican sandwich. As Wikipedia says about this country’s version:

In Mexico a torta is a kind of sandwich, served on an oblong 6-8 inch firm, crusty white sandwich roll, called a bolillo,telera, a torpedo-shaped French roll with a thick and crunchy crust, or birote. Tortas are typically eaten cold, but can be served hot, typically toasted in a press in the same manner as a cuban sandwich or panini.

Garnishes such as avocado, poblano, jalapeño, tomato, and onion are common. The dish is popular throughout Mexico, and is also available anywhere with a large number of Mexican immigrants. This dish should not be confused with a Spanish egg torta, a popular omelette-like dish.

I chose one with ham, pineapple, cheese, and other stuff, which included avocado, carrots, onions, jalapeños, and various unidentified vegetables and sauces. It was warm, delicious, and only two bucks.

La torta vestida:

Y la torta desnuda:

The most popular torta here is the milanesa, with fried steak, tomatoes, and avocados. I hope to try one, but sadly I have only one more day here, i.e., three meals at most.


Now I know that I never post d-gs on this site, but near the ruins was a cage full of really bizarre d-gs: the famous Mexican Hairless d-g, or  Xoloitzcuintli  (pronounced shoh-loh-eets-kweent-lee). I’ll just reproduce the Wikipedia description of these d-gs:

The Xolo is native to Mexico. Archaeological evidence shows that the breed has existed in Mexico for more than 3,000 years. Most likely, early forerunners of the Xolo originated as spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous American dogs. Hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions. Indigenous peoples of Central and South America had Xolo dogs as home and hunting companions, and today they are still very popular companion dogs; even as the national dog of Mexico. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in art and artifacts, for example, those produced by the Colima, Aztec and Toltec civilizations in Mexico.

Xolos were considered sacred dogs by the Aztecs (and also Toltecs, Maya and some other groups) because they believed the dogs were needed by their masters’ souls to help them safely through the underworld, and also they were useful companion animals. According to Aztec mythology, the god Xolotl made the Xoloitzcuintli from a sliver of the Bone of Life from which all mankind was made. Xolotl gave this gift to Man with the instruction to guard it with his life and in exchange it would guide Man through the dangers of Mictlan, the world of Death, toward the Evening Star in the Heavens. Some people in Mexico continue to believe this breed has healing qualities. The Aztecs also raised the breed for their meat. Sixteenth-century Spanish accounts tell of large numbers of dogs being served at banquets. Aztec Merchant feasts could have 80-100 turkeys and 20-40 dogs served as food. When these two meats were served in the same dish, the dog meat was at the bottom of the dish, because it was held in higher regard.

Xolos are a recognized breed, and I know that some of you misguided readers are going to find this pile of puppies cute. I offer this photo as a sacrifice in hopes that Obama wins tomorrow:

I have a lot of photos of Teotihuacan, and will post some of them later, as well as of our visit to the bizarre shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but that will have to wait.  I have to cram more meals in, and tomorrow plan to visit Frida Kahlo’s house, Trotsky’s house, the nearby famous Mercado de Coyoacán (surely a gold mine for photos); and I hope to find time to visit two more buildings with Diego Rivera’s murals.

Oh, I also have a 30-second video of these puppies crawling over each other, and the adults running about, and I suppose I might be persuaded to post it for a suitable donation to Doctors Without Borders. . .

13 thoughts on “Evening snack, with bonus canids!

        1. I find it unclear whether the petition proposes to ban the trade in dogs for meat, or whether is it aimed at fighting the horrible conditions in which dogs are traded? In a way it seems to invoke the latter as a reason to ban the consumption of dogs, which seems wrong. I am all for improving the conditions in which animals are kept and traded, and for example abhor hen battery cages and feedlots. However, I don’t see the latter as a reason to ban the consumption of chicken and beef. I myself would never knowingly eat dog, but I accept the fact that in other cultures it is a common and traditional food. Similarly, I eat horse regularly, as does nearly everyone where I live, but know that many North Americans find the thought of a horse steak disgusting.

  1. Somehow, I guess naively, I never associate ham with Mexican cuisine. But I guess the Spanish have been smoking meats as long as the rest of Europe.

    An re. posting the dogs, as Maxine Elliott replied to Winston Churchill after he exclaimed on the ease of travelling without servants (via public transit), “How brave!”

    1. I wonder if that is because the pre-Columbian natives ate Tayassuids = Peccaries? Are they on the menu at all?

      1. But then goats (yummy barbacoa!) are also a common and prized food in many regions of Latin America, and there weren’t really any prehispanic “precursors” to this traditionally popular type of meat. I think that people in the New World (as in any other part of the world) were just quite willing to adopt any new useful animal or plant they came across, and the latter spread even faster than the European colonizers who introduced them. A good example are horses, which were widely adopted by Native Americans throughout the plains well before Europeans moved in.

  2. Torta in Spain is a cake, tart or flan. The egg, potato (with or without onion) is a tortilla. The Mexican tortilla is a flat maize pancake.

  3. I have to cram more meals in, and tomorrow plan to visit Frida Kahlo’s house, Trotsky’s house, the nearby famous Mercado de Coyoacán (surely a gold mine for photos); and I hope to find time to visit two more buildings with Diego Rivera’s murals.

    Who are the people in boldface, and why did Jerry mention all of them in the same sentence, you ask?

    Barbara Kingsolver tells you, in a very entertaining and poignant way, in her excellent novel The Lacuna.

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