Dog days of winter

By Colin McFadden
This post is part of a series called Mexico City 2022
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After all our tacos yesterday, we really felt like today was a day to focus on salads and personal fitness. But then we checked the news and decided “screw it, more tacos.”

After lounging around a bit (we were out until almost midnight after all!), we walked over to El Hidalguense for some breakfast barbacoa. In addition to a coronary’s worth of lamb tacos, we added some larvae tacos and a corn and cheese dish. The lamb tacos were the real star of course, but the larvae were quite good, reinforcing the old saying “anything fried in lamb fat is at least as good as just drinking lamb fat, which is pretty good.”

El Hidalguense is just a block or two from the Hipodromo which just happened to be having a dog adoption event. If the group is going to trust me to plan the itinerary, we’re going to visit the dog adoption event. Them’s the rules. We met some very good dogs, and then had some very good coffee (and pastries).

Walking back towards the apartment, we popped into the neighborhood market – ostensibly just to pick up some of the tiny local bananas we love. Oh and some passionfruit. And some dried chilis. And some candy. And some strawberries. Oh, and a 2 foot tall ceramic chicken. Markets should come with chaperones.

After dropping off our purchases, we set out for La Laguna, a sort of gallery-studio-coffeeshop-brewery-office space built in an old textile factory. Echoing our speakeasy experience from last night, there was a simple “ring bell” note scrawled on an unlabelled door. We rang the bell and nothing happened. We decided it must be closed and starting working on plan B. Luckily, we stalled long enough that the guard returned from his break and let us in!

The space is super cool – there are some businesses with office suites (design firms, architecture studios and such) as well as production facilities with serious woodworking equipment and laser cutters. As an homage to its former life as a textile mill, antique looms for lace and decorative trim were scattered throughout the complex. Then there are liminal spaces setup for art exhibitions. And finally, there’s a bar and a coffee shop. Kat enjoyed looking in the windows of the felt art studio but would have like to poke around the ceramics area had it been open. Unfortunately many of the spaces are weekday only, but we got to wander and check out the gorgeous furniture they make. It’s a space that would give health and safety regulators nightmares.

Our last destination for the day was the Parque Ecológico de Xochimilco, south of the city. Stay with me for a second – this gets a bit confusing. When the Aztecs first founded Mexico City, it was mostly a big lake. Slowly, manmade islands filled in the lake until it was mostly a system of canals. Then the canals disappeared as well. However, a few of the canals are preserved just south of the city in an area called Xochimilco.

Today, Xochimilco is known as a party destination. You show up with some friends and a lot of booze and rent a boat called a trajinera. Your driver steers you around islands and canals while you get sloshed. Food boats pull up to deliver snacks. It’s quite a scene.

Our Airbnb host instead recommended an area just north of the Xochimilco neighborhood – the Ecological Park. The ecological park is a reclamation project, aiming to clean up the environment and protect the waterways for migratory birds and other animal species. It also has trajineras, but it’s much more low key and family friendly. That seemed like more our speed. However, through a combination of Uber not knowing some of the roads in the are and some trouble understanding the driver, we first ended up at party town. It was, uhh, not for us. Luckily, we were just a short jaunt from the park. We got to see some cool birds, which Kat would describe in-depth if she were awake right now (Kat woke up – her favorite was a vermillion flycatcher). The park was filled with families having picnics, celebrating quinceaneras, or just enjoying the large trail network. Unlike the food stalls of Xochimilco, the park has a designated cafeteria. Anyone who has visited zoos and parks in the US knows that their cafeteria food is subpar at best, inedible at their worst (we’re looking at you Philadelphia Zoo). Here there was a cooking tent set up outside the seating area where women were making each order by hand with the mound of masa dough and ingredients set out before them. Win for Mexico.

We ended our day back at El Tizoncito (the taco stall which invented Al Pastor tacos in the 1960s) before wandering home (via some ice cream and a patisserie) for some rooftop cards.

4 thoughts on “Dog days of winter

  • Deb February 27, 2022 at 12:56 pm Reply

    What a wonderful day! Larva tacos???

  • Susan February 27, 2022 at 1:41 pm Reply

    I also wondered about the larva tacos. They’re just filled with lamb fat? Some of those dogs have been eating too many of them!

    • Colin McFadden February 27, 2022 at 2:00 pm Reply

      They were mealworms or some kind of larvae (maybe grasshopper?) fried in lamb fat.

  • Judy February 28, 2022 at 5:13 am Reply

    The ceramic chicken rocks !!

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