Life and Travel in Puebla, Mexico

Tag Archives: Mexican food

When you first come to Puebla, you may find yourself confused as to when you can find your favorite street foods actually being sold, and why certain products at the store seem to be called the same thing even if they are completely different. If language is failing you, or the quesadilla lady is never there whenever you have a hankering, then here are a few tips:

  1. Quesadillas, tamales, and gorditas: Since these are all considered breakfast foods, you won’t find them after 11am or noon. Arrive later than that and you’ll discover that your favorite vendor is scraping off his/her grill and packing up the gas tank. Tamales are available as early as 4am outside the clubs in Cholula, or 7am in most areas, while quesadillas and gorditas pop up around 9am-ish.

Side Note: Your quesadilla will not necessarily come with cheese. The word itself refers to a folded tortilla with some sort of filling. See this discussion from the magazine Chilango.

A torta de tamal, or tamale in a sandwich. Only available until roughly 11am!

A torta de tamal, or tamale in a sandwich. Only available until roughly 11am!

2. Halls: “Why do people here always have sore throats? They eat Halls like there’s no tomorrow!,” you might be thinking. Or, as my mom said when I offered her one, “No, thanks, I’m fine. Is your throat hurting?” Actually, Halls are used as breath mints in Mexico, and you’ll find them in every flavor you can think of. I even once found limited-edition “Paloma” (tequila with grapefruit soda) flavor.

Limited Beer and Lime Flavor. I told you there are some weird flavors! (From be-side.blogspot.com)

Limited Edition Beer and Lime Flavor. I told you there are some weird flavors! (From be-side.blogspot.com)

3. Jamón: Why, you wonder, does “jamón de pavo” exist? How can a lunchmeat be turkey and ham at the same time? The thing is, “jamón,” which you probably learned as “ham,” is just the generic word for “lunchmeat.” So you  can buy “turkey ham,” “turkey breast ham,” “pork ham,” and so on.

A big block of good ole

A big block of good ole “turkey ham.”

4. Carne: Speaking of meat, “carne” is another word you should know how to use. It does refer to meat in general, and you can request “carne de puerco” (pork), “carne de res” (beef), etc. However, most people use it only for red meats. If you’re a vegetarian but all you tell someone is that you don’t eat “carne,” then you’ll be served a healthy portion of chicken!

5. Calabaza vs. Calabacita: “Squash” and “little squash” are not quite what they seem. “Calabaza” refers to large squashes in general, sometimes pumpkin, while “calabacita” is actually “zucchini.”

Calabacitas.

Calabacitas.

Calabaza.

Calabaza.

6. Galletas saladas y dulces: Yes, “galletas” refers to both cookies and crackers. If you’re looking for some Ritz, get “galletas saladas,” and if you want Chips Ahoy, then ask for just “galletas.”

Galletas Saladas. This is like the Mexican version of Ritz (which is also sold here).

Galletas Saladas. This is like the Mexican version of Ritz (which is also sold here).

I hope that helps to clear up some of your confusion about the food here!