Friday, June 12, 2009

Mexican Junk Food

A few weeks ago I encountered an intriguing challenge on Twitter. Sher is an American living in Czech Republic and she set up the "World Blog Surf Day" , an event for expat bloggers everywhere. The rules are simple, write about "food", anything about food, what you love, miss, hate, find strange, anything at all and then link to the next person in the blog chain. I thought it sounded like a fun way to find new blogs and read about yummy stuff at the same time so I threw my hat in the ring. With 31 other bloggers from around the world, I'm sure there will be a great variety of delicious material to read, please check everyone out here.

So, food in Mexico. Well that's a pretty big topic and one I've been thinking about for weeks. I could have written about all the variations of "taco", the use of chiles, local Yucatecan treats or what I find in the grocery store. Instead, I chose to go with something near and dear to my heart, junk food! I've always been a snacker, my tastes leaning towards salty and sour. Salt and vinegar chips and sour keys are two of the few things I miss from Canada. Luckily salty and sour are two flavours that are widely available here in Mexico, with an added twist. Spice. There is chile on just about everything (that's "chile" like chili pepper, not like con carne, I can't imagine my sour keys topped with ground beef).

Kids here grow up sucking on candies covered in chile or just dipping their fingers into bags of powdered chile and sugar. Popcorn is covered in chile sauce. Even the healthy snackers put chile sauce on their cut carrots and mango. Don't let it scare you away if you don't like spice, it's more like a "zing" in the mouth than a sweat inducing, tongue burning, crying on the throne the next day kind of flavour. A little sour, a little sweet, think Chinese plum sauce with an extra kick.

Just a small sampling of the salsa aisle

The chips are much spicier than in Canada. But we still add salsa!

My personal addiction, Skwinkles! Mmmmm,
sour candy covered in chile (droooooooling)

Rockaleta- Super Sour and four layers of chile!
Gum in the middle of course, mango flavour

Lucas Pelucas- One of a variety of strange
tamarind goo candies that kids love to suck
on. With chile of course!

It's not all sour and spicy of course, sweets are popular as well. Cajeta (burnt goat's milk that comes out like caramel) is used in a lot of recipes, eaten straight out of the jar and used in candies too. Obleas are extremely popular, not my fave by any means, reminds me too much of taking communion, if I am going to snack, it's going to be sinful!

Obleas- The sweet communion wafer
(Are the women on the package trying to tempt us?)

And of course there is chocolate. Sweet, sweet chocolate. Living in the land of the Maya (inventors of chocolate according to some sources), it would be a crime to not eat at least a little chocolate every week. You know, just to stay on the good side of the Mayan gods. Hot chocolate is a Mexican specialty, thick and rich and somehow, you guessed it, a little bit spicy. Bubu Lubus are a favourite of mine, a slab of marshmallow and a smear of red jelly covered in chocolate, sickeningly sweet and divine, I can only eat a little at a time.

Carlos V- Popular Mexican milk chocolate bar
(the fine print says "Dare to be king",
but I'll be chocolate queen if I must!)

So there you have it, a small taste (sorry, couldn't help myself) of the packaged, mass-produced yumminess (crap) that I love. This doesn't even touch on the incredible variety of candy and snacks that are found in each region of Mexico that are hand made with love and not in a factory, camotes from Puebla, ate from Morelia, Michoacan or chongos Zamoranos. Next time you are in Mexico, don't reach for the Mars bar at the tienda, try something new and exciting, you might just find yourself with a taste for sugar and spice! For those of you without a ticket in hand, Mexgrocer has a decent selection of Mexican treats available for order online.

Now, in keeping with World Blog Surf day etiquette, I invite you to check out Leigh's contribution at "The Future is Red: Traveling the World One Day at a Time" in Argentina. Provecho, bon apetit, enjoy!

(If you would like to keep up with World Blog Surf Day on Twitter, please follow Anastasia Ashman,
an American cultural producer based in Instanbul, and a creator of Expat Harem, the anthology by foreign women about modern Turkey. She'll be tweeting about all the participants and will be making her own contribution to the event.)


Leslie Harris (de Limon) said...

There are 3 "junk" foods you can always find in my home...Rockaletas, Lucas Pelucas or Pelon Pelo Rico and Skwinkles. I love Rockaletas and Lucas Pelucas, but I'm not a big fan of Skwinkles. (My kids and hubby love them.)

As a kid, I spent a couple of summers in Sonora, where THE popular junk food was "Saladitos". They are very salty dried prunes. Those were my absolute favorites.

Gaelyn said...

Can't say enough about the real chocolate I encountered in Oaxacca as I watch my own recipe choice ground up. And I love chili powder on most of my fruit, especially melons, which I also learned in Mexico. Guess I'll have to try some of the weird looking candy on my next trip. Gotta' love the junk food.

Jonna said...

You've bought Bubu Lubus?? I've always drooled at the sight of them in the check out aisle but I've never succumbed. They just look like the worst and the best of junk food. Maybe I'll have to try one, except my fear is that then I'll crave them. Perhaps ignorance is better.

what a cool concept, I'm off to explore the other blogs.

Alex said...

OOoOOoooH Skwinkles! you got me drooling!! they don't sell those here sniff.. but I can find bubulubus, but for some reason, they dont taste the same.. odd.
Ahhh now I am craving everything you posted! YUM!

Ivanhoe said...

I'm liking this food trip around the world. Mex junk food sounds pretty good, even though I cannot eat spicy stuff... I'm sure I could find a thing or two that is not spicy. Right? :o)

Schaufensterbabe said...

I remember eating Salitos as a kid in Arizona (we lived pretty close to the border)which were these weird salted prunes. We thought they were delicious though. Thanks for your post!

Camille Lemmens said...

Mexican is high up on my fave food list although it's difficult to get some good stuff where I live right now, in Thailand. The one thing that unites both cuisine are the spicey tastes they both proceed and also cilantro or coriander in some of the dishes dishes.

Had great mexican food in Texas in the Mexican parts of town, greasy but great!

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

I really missed finding chips that did not have chili on them or peanuts without lime or chili. Do not get me wrong, I love them here but they are not the comfort of tasting like home. :( What a great post. I am hungry now.

Sher said...

Hi CancunCanuck,
All of these sound so good...especially the chocolate! I'm a chocoholic! What is the chile like? Is it very spicy? Or is it like eating those hot cinnamon candies?

Those things you mentioned at the end of your should do another post about those...we're all hungry now!

Sounds like you really do enjoy your new Mexican home!!!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

I've tried a lot of those candies in Mexico and here in Texas - especially the chocolate. I buy my produce at the "Mexican" grocery store Fiesta, and they have lots of brands I recognize from Mexico which is great! I've only tried a couple of chile candies - they aren't my favorite but it's so fun to try new things. Carlos V bars have finally made it into mainstream drugstores here.

I could go on and on about chocolate and candy, so I'll stop now! Excellent post, I can't wait to check out the other blogs.

CancunCanuck said...

Leslie- I'll have to look out for the "Saladitos", sounds like something I could dig into, thanks!

Gaelyn- "Real" chocolate is so different, divine! I was really put off by the chile on fruit thing at first, but now I love chamoy on my mangoes! (Or on mango sherbet, yum!)

Jonna- Oh yes, I have bought the Costco sized boxes of Bubu Lubu! Sweet sweet, but I love them so! Hope you enjoyed surfing the world of food, I thought it was a cool idea too. Maybe we could do a Mexican version, everyone posting about regional specialties. Food for thought? (Punny, I know...)

Ale- Have you checked out Might find some of your favourites there! If you're really craving, let me know, maybe I can send you something from here. Abrazos amiga!

Ivanhoe- Definitely lots of junk that is not spicy (though if it isn't, we add the spice, haha). I know what you mean about wanting to cook but not finding ingredients, can be frustrating!

Schaufensterbabe- Going to have to look for those salted prunes, perhaps I am missing out on something great! I had to laugh at your post, we don't eat much bread around here but we sure go through a lot of tortillas!

Camille Lemmens- I am SO extremely jealous of your proximity to Thai food. It's one of the things I miss so much about Toronto, I would eat Thai at least twice a week. There are similarities to Mexican food and yet they still seem to be so different. Great post on your blog, made my mouth water!

Rosas Clan- Regular old Sabritas satisfy my taste if I am looking for home, though even then I add a little chile (what have I become? hahaha!)

Sher- The chile is not very spicy, it really is more like a Chinese plum sauce with a little extra zing. I guess cinnamon candies is a good analogy, but it does hit a different spot on the tongue if you know what I mean. I need a bigger budget to do a "real" candies of Mexico post, gee, how rough it would be to travel to each region and sample their candies? :)

Kelly- The chile candy is certainly not for everyone and in fact, it took me a few tries before I discovered the joys of the chile. Now, chocolate on the other hand, who doesn't love chocolate? Hope you enjoyed the other entries on World Blog Surf Day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That was fun reading yours and a few of the other blogs about different foods around the world. I will read a few more of them later.
Bubu Lubus sound delish!!!

Chicagotom said...

Thanks so much, your posting was one of the most interesting I've read in a long time. We learned a lot from it. No more wondering when we see these treats on the shelves of the local stores.
What a wonderful idea too. Wish I had known about it in time to join in......maybe next time?

Unknown said...

Mango or papaya with lime juice and chili is an out-of-this world treat.

Marilynne (who's been both to Cancun and to Canada)

ElleCancun said...

Amiga - I too love Salt n' Vinegar (old dutch) chips!!! I fould them at an Oxxo in the HZ, by the Maralago! They are a tad pricey, but sooo worth the treat! They aren't Old Dutch, but Lays will do!!!

Ohh and I LOVE Abuelita Chocolate!!!

Emmanuelle Archer said...

Fun post!

That salsa aisle is quite something - especially if that was just *part* of it!

I would love it if you could do a follow-up post about the more traditional sweets and snacks you mentioned. I always find traditional foods a fascinating subject.

And now, I am off to dream of cajeta... so delicious!


Unknown said...

He Canuck,
Just making my trip around all the food blogs...and mentioned twice as a commen there: 'the only foreign food I miss is Mexican or TexMex'...and I'm from the Netherlands, now residing in Istanbul..)
good to discover this blog.

Swanky said...

Oo. You left out my favorite: Kranky! It's like a chocolate covered corn flake. Cold from the refridgerator is the best!

Heather said...

Im drooling over here. We have all that candy in San Diego but cant find them else where. My mom sends me some in the mail, lol!

Yazar said...

Please tell me they don't put chili in the chocolate!! That would be a sin!

CancunCanuck said...

Jackie- Next time you are down, pick up some Bubu Lubus! Glad you liked the world tour of food!

Chicagotom- Next time you're in Oxxo, try something new! Glad you enjoyed, next time I hear about something like this I will post in advance.

Writer Lady (Marilynne)- Oh yes, the fruit and chile is divine! I didn't "get" it at first, but now the flavours just seem to work. Thanks for stopping by!

On Mexican Time- Yes, I saw Salt n Vinegar chips in the HZ for something like 50 pesos a bag!!! I don't miss them THAT much, I'll substitute with Limon flavour. :)

Emmanuelle- That was just a small section of the salsa aisle, I couldn't get a pic of the whole thing! I'll have to take a trip to the market soon and do a follow up on the more traditional candies (oh, poor me, having to do research, haha). Thanks for commenting!

Internation Musing- Thanks for stopping by. I noticed the comments about Mexican food too, can't say I blame them, lots of flavour!

Swanky- Ooooh, Kranky, yum! I put all my chocolate in the fridge or freezer, in the summer it's a great treat.

Heather- I figured you would know a lot of these, and good for mom for sending those sweet care packages! :)

Yazar- Welll, in the candy no, but there is a famous Mexican dish called "mole" (pronounced moh-lay) that is chocolate and spices. It's better than it sounds!

Fned said...

When people ask me what I miss most about my country I always answer "Family and Food"... in reality I should be answering "Family and junk food...

In all my travelling I've yet to find a equivalent to the tingling taste of Ruffles con Queso swimming in Valentina sauce of the zest and deliciousness that is a bag of Chips Verdes...

And funny enough... as I was reading your post I was enjoying the last of my Valentina sauce with a bag of chips!


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