1. You know that “con todo” (with everything) doesn’t always mean the same thing.
- An elote or esquite “con todo” includes lime, mayonnaise, salt, cheese, and chili powder.
- A taco al pastor “con todo” includes cilantro, onion, and pineapple.
- A torta “con todo” includes avocado, tomato, onion, refried beans, mayonnaise, pickled green chilis, and maybe a little bit of extra salsa.
- A pozole “con todo” includes oregano, sliced radish, onion, and lettuce.
- A pambazo “con todo” includes sour cream, cheese, lettuce and salsa.
- A chicharron preparado “con todo” includes lettuce, cueritos (that’s actually pickled pig skin), sour cream, Valentina salsa, grated cheese, avocado, tomato, and whatever your local vendor thinks goes along with all that.
When in doubt, you’re always free to ask: “What is con todo?”
2. You know that tortillas must be at the center of the table…
And you know you should never leave them uncovered. The device that contains the tortillas, commonly called tortillero, might present itself in the form of a kitchen towel — which in this case will be called a napkin — some Tupperware specialized accessory, or just the piece of brown paper that tortilla vendors will kindly give you — for an extra peso — when you leave your napkin at home.
3. And you know they’re the perfect substitute for your whole cutlery set.
Maybe you don’t usually practice this… in public, but you’re perfectly aware of the protocol required to leaving a dish clean using just a tortilla.
4. But you know there are situations when using a tortilla will be considered a sin.
What kind of lunatic would even consider accompanying pozole with tortillas? Pozole is the main reason why tostadas actually exist. And there’s also the practical impossibility of finding an open tortillería during Pozole Day… err, I mean Independence Day.
5. You have a love-hate relationship with soup.
The variety of soups in Mexico is huge, but Mexican moms have a strange fixation with one particular kind: sopa aguada. A plate of sopa aguada immediately reminds you of your childhood… and of you and your mom quarreling about the soup.
6. If your favorite salsa is present, you’re gonna use it…
It doesn’t matter that your main dish is as hot as the flames of hell already, you’ll go for the extra spiciness just for the sake of flavor.
7. And if things get out of hand…
You can always turn the heat down with extra beans or sour cream — elements that are always present in Mexican meals. A piece of advice: The beans can also be quite hot.
8. And talking about necessary elements at the table…
Limes should never be forgotten. If they’re not on the table, you can always find some in the bottom drawer of the fridge next to the red tomatoes, the onions, and those old cilantro leaves.
9. You remember the time when you stained your favorite shirt with mole…
And it never came out.
10. You know there’s something mystical about the salt.
Beware of wasting or dropping the salt, and never try to place it directly in the hand of someone else at the table. You know there are always a few pairs of superstitious eyes secretly judging you for your frivolousness. Your personal beliefs don’t matter here. If you’re in a table with enough Mexicans, you’ll treat the salt with the metaphysical respect it deserves… as a matter of etiquette.
11. One of every two fruits you consume will be covered in chili.
There are few Mexicans in this world who would eat an orange as it is, given the opportunity to completely cover it in Tajín chili.
12. You don’t understand how people from other countries have managed to survive for so long without Oaxaca cheese.
Neither can you figure out why quesadillas aren’t a worldwide phenomenon. You can always substitute Oaxaca with some other cheese that melts and tastes nice… but this will always be seen as a substitution, right?
13. And talking about quesadillas…
You know that a quesadilla will never achieve its full potential unless it has some epazote.
14. And you are seriously concerned about people who have never eaten a real taco.
Completely misunderstood and underestimated outside of Mexico, the taco is a central element of our everyday diet. From the salt tacos your mom used to give you when you were a little kid, to the strange stew tacos from Doña Maru that helped you survive through college. The variety is astonishing since everything that fits inside a tortilla — and they do come in different sizes — can be transformed into a taco.
15. And it doesn’t matter how satisfied you’re at the end of a meal…
You’ll always leave some room for a cafecito.
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