One of the very first places we visited in Mexico City when Jon and I moved there in 2004 was Coyoacan. Coyoacan (which means place where they have coyotes in Nahuatl) is a colonial neighborhood in the south of modern Mexico City. Coyoacan was originally a vassel state of the Aztec empire that sit on the shores of the Lake Texcoco. When Hernan Cortez conquered Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the empire, he felt in love with the beautiful town and the forest that surrounded it and settled there with his lover La Malinche.
Ever since pre-Hispanic times Coyoacan has been an important center for trade and culture. Coyoacan has been the residence to characters like Diego Rivera, Frida Khalo and Leon Trotsky. Its churches, bookstores, cafes, markets, plazas, gardens, schools, festivals, street performers, architecture, museums and history make Coyoacan one of the most beautiful, vibrant and bohemian neighborhood of Mexico City. No wonder it is considered the cultural heart of the gigantic city.
I love Coyoacan for all those reasons, but what does that have to do with food? Food is everywhere in Coyoacan. Around the main plaza there are several restaurants and cafes that serve all kinds of food. Throughout the year local, regional, national and international fesivals are held in Hidalgo square where you can sample foods from around the country and the world.
My favorite places to eat in Mexico, however, are the markets. Borges wrote that the best way to know Mexico is through its markets. That first time Jon and I visited Coyoacan we ate fried quesadillas at La Conchita market. He loved them. After that we walked to nieves el Tepozteco for ice cream (many people claim they have the best ice creams in the city) and sat next to Los Coyotes fountain to watch people walk by. That became our favorite spot to hang out.
Every once in a while I make fried quesadillas to remember those evenings. Mine don’t taste as good (must be the smog) as the ones in Coyoacan, though, and I don’t make them as often because of the “fried” factor. But they make a tasty snack or even a dinner, like these ones. Quesadillas can be filled with anything you like. Jon’s favorite filling is pollo con queso, chicken and cheese (might be the first words in Spanish he learned) so that’s what I always try to make. My favorite kinds, besides chicken, are mushroom, picadillo (when I used to eat beef) and huitlacoche.
Since this post is too long already I will leave you with the pictures of the process. The only difference between fried quesadillas and the quesadillas you might know is that these are made from tortilla masa (corn) instead of flour tortillas. This means that you should make them from scratch. Get tortilla masa at your local grocery store and follow the directions to make the mix. Another note is that queso Oaxaca, Oaxaca cheese, is the preferred cheese to make quesadillas in central and southern Mexico. This string cheese is similar to mozarella cheese. If you can’t find it you can use your favorite cheese for your quesadillas.
Update: I completely forgot that I made this recipe for Frugal Fridays. Don’t forget that every Friday we cook dinner for 4 trying to spend $10 or less. Cool concept, right?