This is the story of how I introduced pambazos to a German guy. We had been walking all morning shopping for clothes in downtown and had ended in the Sullivan tianguis, where we knew we’d find more clothes and shoes for Erick, my little cousin who was visiting from Sinaloa. It was warm; a beautiful spring day that the jacarandas embellished with their purple flowers. Comida time announced itself with the rumble of bellies. Markus, my cousin’s German husband, was the first one to voice his need for food. When we asked him what he wanted he didn’t hesitate. He wanted tortas, Mexican sandwiches.
I didn’t know any tortas place around the area. We decided to walk around the market to try to find them, but we were unsuccessful. We’d stop at other stalls and ask Markus if he wanted to try something else, quesadillas, sopes or maybe flautas. But he was fixated. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t going to yield.
Then I saw them in their radiant beauty. They were carefully piled up on the counter looking proud and … Orange. I pointed them out to my cousin Zury and said, they’re not exactly tortas, but they’re a kind of sandwich. She agreed with me and explained to Markus what they were. He didn’t look 100% convinced, but I guess hunger had weakened his will to keep fighting us. We sat down to eat and at the end of the meal Markus gave us his verdict: best food ever!
The Humble Pambazos
You can find pambazos in the streets of many Mexican cities. They are different from region to region. But they all have something in common. They’re made with white bread that is soaked in a red gualillo pepper sauce and then filled and toasted on the griddle before being served.
The bread for the pambazos, also called pambazo, is different from other Mexican white breads. It doesn’t have a crispy crust and it’s made with eggs, lard and flour. Usually it’s not used as a dinner roll because it’s tough and dry, which allows it to retain its shaped while it’s being soaked in the sauce. You might find it at bakeries, but most of it is made for special deliveries for restaurants and street vendors.
In Mexico City pambazos are filled typically with papas con chorizo (potatoes with chorizo), lettuce, cream and cheese. However, you can find a lot more fillings nowadays. At that particular place where we ate last weekend you can order your pambazos filled with beef.
Pambazo is one of my new favorite street foods. For some reason I didn’t eat a lot of them when I was growing up. It was until recently that I started consuming them more often. Even though I don’t share Markus’s opinion that they’re the best food ever, they’re pretty dang good. Especially after walking for hours without much food in your stomach.