10 May, 2022

Today is Mother’s Day in México – so happy mother’s day if it so applies/applied to you!

I thought I’d make an entry today about a problem I have with a couple of things about living in Mazatlán (and México in general). Both of them are foods. Some things are not easy to find here. Asian food is probably the biggest one of all. I’d found a place that made a decent chow mein, and now they’re closed. The one Korean place that opened has horrible food and internet-trolls who lurk in the Mazatlan foodies groups to tell everyone how wonderful it is … it’s not, believe me. But they do sell a decent kimchi. Expensive, but available. I’m not going to give them any press so you’ll have to figure out who and where they are on your own 😉 Lol.

Also not easy to find are ethnic foods from Europe. I’ll submit that they aren’t all that easy to find in Seattle where I came from too – not easy, but I ‘could’ find them. Two of my favorite foods that I can’t find here are sauerkraut and white borscht. Thankfully both of these are fairly easy to prepare yourself, with just a little time and a trip to the Mercado Hidalgo in Col. Juárez.

Żurek on the left, Sauerkraut on the right

Sauerkraut is the easiest – take a head of cabbage and shred it. Weigh it, calculate 2% and add that much salt to it. Knead it until liquid starts coming out then pack it into a jar and poke it a bunch more times with a muddler or a wooden spoon. Make sure there is enough juice to cover the cabbage, cover loosely and sit in a warm spot. Tamp it down again every day, then at the end of two weeks tighten the lid and put it in the fridge to enjoy at your leisure! See – other than having to wait two weeks it’s easy! I find one medium to small head of cabbage fits perfectly in a large mayonnaise jar so you don’t even need to invest in fancy canning jars! When the jar is half eaten I start another batch.

Żurek (the Polish name for the white borscht) is a little more difficult – but still not impossible. If you haven’t had Żurek/White Borscht then you’ve missed out! There’s a restaurant called ‘Christina’s’ in the Greenpoint neighborhood of New York City that serves it twice a week (wed/sun?). It’s amazing – and if you’re staying at the YMCA down the street to save a couple of bucks, it’s very convenient! Anyway – Żurek is fermented rye flour with marjoram, garlic, allspice, bay leaves, and peppercorns. It’s pretty much that easy too – I’d write it all down, but here’s a video that’ll take you through it!

All of the spices can be found in the Mercado Hidalgo in Col. Juárez at the spice shop next to Carnicería Hermanos Carreón (the butcher with all the sausages). Yes, the butcher who tells me to WhatsApp him and he’ll let me know when he finds chamorro with the skin still on – then never does! 🙂 He still has good sausages! I’m pretty sure this is the sign above the spice shop – it’s down a narrow aisle at the edge of the mercado …

I will give kudos to the spice shop – they’ve had everything I’ve been looking for except for caraway seeds (ordered those from mercadolibre.com.mx) and the chile mixe (Pasilla de Oaxaca Chile) – AND they ordered the chile mixe (mee-hay) for me! I bought enough to last me a year! Lol. Most of their spice packets are ten pesos too – just incredible selection and prices!

So, to wrap this up – things may not be available directly here, but with a little effort you can bring the comforts of your childhood to you. It might take a little time. It might require a few trips and orders from internet suppliers. But you can do it!

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