Can You Pass the Beef Tongue?
In the summer months, one of the main things my family does is travel. We try to take at least one big trip together once a year, to bond and reconnect. I’ll be honest, it’s much easier to travel when it’s just my wife and me, but I like exploring new places with my kids. Being somewhere different really brings the family together. My favorite trip I’ve ever been on was going down to Mexico City with my family.
The Best Part of a Vacation
I’ve been to many different places in Mexico, but I was not aware of just how much history Mexico City holds. Mexico City was initially built by the ancient Aztecs and called “Teotihuacán.”
Their city would eventually become one of the largest and more powerful in pre-Columbian America. Centuries later, after Hernán Cortés conquered Teotihuacán in the 1500s, the Spanish built Mexico City on its ruins. There was a brief period of time in the 1860s when the French occupied Mexico City and built a ton of beautiful buildings that are still standing today.
While in Mexico City we were able to visit Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Santísima Virgen María a los cielo, which, in English, translates to the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heavens. Believe it or not, this building actually earned such an elaborate name. The Cathedral was molded after the Gothic cathedrals in Spain, with a massive wood door, ornate facades, and multiple altars. We also went to the president’s castle, Chapultepec Castle, which was built atop a tall hill and has the best views of the whole city.
I love learning about the history and the culture of the places we visit. That’s part of the reason Mexico City was such a great trip. The other reason was the food. In my family, the number one thing everyone likes to do is eat. When we start planning a trip, we spend a big chunk of time plotting out the best restaurants and cafes in the area. We’ll spend hours in a single restaurant, enjoying the food and soaking in the atmosphere.
There’s a lot of great food to be eaten in Mexico City, but my favorite meal was lengua, or beef tongue. I had some at this great restaurant, and it was phenomenal. They served the meat in some kind of sauce I don’t remember the name of, but I could have eaten it all day while the mariachi band played in the background. After dinner, we finished off our meal with spicy hot chocolate and some sweet bread. Even the bread was so different than the bread you find in the United States, and every bite was delicious.
When people talk to me about their trips, I always encourage them to get out of the hotel and find the local eateries. A lot of tourist destinations will “Americanize” their food because some people won’t eat unfamiliar foods. This is fine if you’re not an adventurous eater, but if you really want to get to know the culture and their local cuisine, you have to do a little more work. I promise it’s worth it.
Eating beef tongue might sound crazy to some people, but if you’re open to trying something new, you just might discover your new favorite dish.
–Ramiro Rodriguez, Jr.