Overland miles: 718 Tacocount: 25 Days without Tea: 0 (Clare)
Clare and I had just climbed down from the highest, hottest point of the sleepy ex-colonial mining town of Santa Rosalia, dreaming peacefully by the Sea of Cortez, in Baja Sur (the southern section of the B.C. peninsular). How the indigenous miners, pressed into urgent action by the perfidious French (described unhesitatingly in the museum we had just visited as overseeing the exploitation of the local community and its resources), managed to jump on their trains and chug down those pits in the overwhelming dry heat of the summer morning, beats us. I reckon they would have needed a decent breakfast first.
And talking of needing breakfasts, it was definitely time for ours. I have argued previously that prawns are one of the best breakfasts in the world, but what we were really in search of this morning was a good example of a typical Mexican breakfast. It turns out, as with the first meal of the day in so many countries, that we we faced with a tantalising multitude of options (perhaps not Greece where it is said that your choices extend to whether you want sugar in your coffee, and if you want a packet of 20 Malboro Reds with that).
There are, for instance, heuvos al gusto (eggs your way), and the ways are endlessly intriguing: scrambled, farmer’s, divorced (yes, that is the literal translation), in an omelette or simply fried over easy and served with the ubiquitous frijoles (re-fried kidney beans). And that’s just the dairy section. Then you have hot-cakes, pancakes, straight cakes and divine pastries, epic fish tacos of course, a staggering range of fried tortilla-based dishes from the Enchilada family (Santa Rosalia specialises in the red version, although I have been unable to track ’em down yet) and Molletes, which sound like omelettes when you order them in your terrible Spanish, but are not, so you need to be very careful to pronounce them as the Mexicans do: that is, with a ‘y’ for the double ll (Moe-yet-es. See? You’re learning already.)
Now breakfast is the most important meal of the day, people. So I figured you’d indulge me if I took a few posts (not all at once, I don’t want to batter my favourite subject to death) to introduce you to the different flavours and hues of the Mexican desayano. We will start with the only one we could afford in pricey Baja: molletes. Here they are, petal:
Now I know what you’re going to say. They’re just bacon and cheese on toast. And so they are, a kind of Mexican pizza slice with a wodge of those gosh-darn tasty frijoles slapped on top for good measure. The thing is: Baja is a very long piece of land, and bus travel between its stand-out points is almost prohibitively expensive (like getting first class trains in the UK). So, when you travel on a budget 70 per cent of which is consumed by getting to places, when you arrive you eat cheap. But I thought they were a pretty good value option: tasty and satisfying, even without a huevo on the side. I drizzled mine with a lo-fi green tomato chilli salsa that gets served with everything, and that perked things up immensely.
Clare chose the other item on the menu that met our budget requirements: French toast with maple syrup. It was kinda leftfield as an introduction to breakfasts from this region. The waiter made a great play of this being a speciality of the house on account of the cultural marriage of French and Mexican influences, despite it actually being an American dish. Anyhoo, I may have mentioned how utterly decadent maple syrup and butter is at breakfast, but the toast they came on really wasn’t ‘French’ in the appropriate sense of the word. It was a great breakfast desert-course, but as you can see, a little sad and unsatisfying as the main event:
Clare then knackered the ‘Days without Tea’ count (see the stats heading each post) by ordering her first cup of (white) tea in Mexico to go with it, but I wasn’t convinced and ordered your classic Americano (which goes perfectly with all Mexican breakfasts, ya).
And when we had polished our plates off, we headed over to the fruit stand to stock up on nutritious provisons for the 8 hour bus ride ahead to La Paz.