There is a word in Spanish slang (from my part of the Spanish speaking world, anyway) that defines a whole sub-culture of Mexican food. The word is fritanga and it usually refers to fried (frito) snacks and tasty treats sold on the streets and markets of Mexico. There is, of course, a healthier and cleaner option, the homemade fritangas. Tacos, tostadas, sopes, quesadillas, gorditas, fried bananas and other desserts are among the long list of fritangas that give Mexican markets their everlasting and inviting smell of fried food.
Eating in the markets, and sometimes on the street food booths, was for me a normal part of growing up in Mexico City. However, I do not recommend it to anybody visiting Mexico City for two reasons:
1. In recent years the health department in Mexico has been slacking and the regulations, if any, for those places are not enforced anymore. Be very careful when choosing a place to eat. I recommend following a simple rule: If it’s busy, it’s probably good. If there’s no one there, skip it.
2. Even if the place is clean, your body is not used to that kind of food and their high content of grease and other various ingredients may make you sick anyway. All regions have their own unique set of microbes in the food and water, so their is a period of adjustment for many people. This doesn’t mean you ate bad food, however. It’s just one of those fun little issues when travelling outside of your country.
It is a shame that it has become so dangerous to eat at the Mexican markets. Pablo Neruda wrote that Mexican cultures are learned through their markets.
Anyway, I decided to write about fritangas because last night I prepared tostadas and I want to share that little piece of Mexico with all of you.
A tostada is a tortilla that has been toasted or fried so that it becomes a hard corn shell. Tortilla chips, therefore, could be considered miniature tostadas. Tostadas have become very popular in the States and you can find them at your grocery store in the Mexican section. The other option would be to get corn tortillas and fry or toast them, but if you don’t have much time to cook, I recommend the first option.
The shell is usually topped with refried beans, cheese, lettuce and your choice of pork, ground beef, fish, chicken or any other kind of meat you can think of. The possibilities are really endless. When I prepare tostadas I usually top them with tinga de pollo (cooked shredded chicken).
Here is the recipe for tinga de pollo and the “building” of tostadas.
- •10 Tostadas
- •2 cups refried beans
- •½ shredded lettuce or white cabbage
- •½ cup crumbled queso fresco
- •sour cream
- •1 shredded chicken breast
- •½ white onion
- •1 garlic clove
- •1 chipotle adobado pepper
- •1-2 Roma tomatoes
- Heat oil on a shallow pan over the stove.
- Chop part of the onion and saute on pan.
- Add the shredded chicken and let it fry slightly.
- Blend tomatoes, the rest of the onion, garlic clove and chipotle pepper with just a little bit of water to make all the ingredients blend. Keep in mind that the tinga doesn't have to be too watery since it is going on top of the tostada. You should get a orangish paste in the blender jar.
- Add that mixture to the pan along with salt and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
- Once the tinga is ready you only need to "build" your tostadas and enjoy them.
This is the easiest way to put a tostada together.
First spread some refried beans on the shell
Then add some of the chicken
Followed by some cheese
And finally the sour cream
You can try these with as many different toppings as you can think of.
Your comments, suggestions and ideas are always welcomed.