Day 29: Comida Libre (Tlayuda fight)

Overland miles: 2837 Tacocount: 48 Days without Tea: 0

Prawns for Breakfast never got to go to La Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) on account of our previously discussed illness, which was a shame as some fellow travellers captivatingly described a scene of pure mayhem: pumped up, furiously angry participants hurling abuse and several heavy objects around the ring – and that is just the spectators. But if there’s one street fight we know a thing or two about, it’s a street-food fight, and so in this blog we bring you perhaps the first ever written account of Comida Libre, the completely fictional sport of Mexican Snackdown! This thrilling battle for snack supremacy is between the mighty Tlayuda from two Mexican cities, Mexico DF and Oaxaca. Tlayuda comprises a deep-fried, corn-based tostada resembling a giant popadom for the base, smothered with the quintessential accompaniment of frijoles (refried beans) and loaded with lethal lechuga (lettuce), searing salsas and any number other tongue-slamming regional toppings. This promises to be an awesome fight to the last mouthful between two titans of the street food scene!

Tlayudas: take your places. Unmask the snacks!

In the red corner: Mexico DF Tlayuda, assembled and raised on the mean street corner of Bosque de Chapultepec.

Tlayuda stall (left), Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City

The contender:

Ka-pow!!

In the green corner: Oaxacan Sencillo Tlayuda, hailing from the famous 20 Septiembre market just south of the Zócalo.

Food stall, 20 Septiembre market, Oaxaca City

The contender:

Ka-zaaam!

Luchar!!

Partida una / Base: An early challenge from Oaxaca Tlayuda. A monstrous crisp disk of 30 centimetres diameter, holding up to 200g of meat and other toppings, it piles into Mexico DF Tlayuda with serious intent. But Mexico City’s finest holds in there with a firm texture and a curiously nutty depth to each bite. It takes the round confidently on taste. Ooof, this is shaping up to be a thrilling fight.

Partida dos / Grapple: It’s all out warfare in the ring now, with no-one, especially the eaters, knowing where to land their blows – or chops! The fans have thrown their cutlery away in confusion as both of these beast require both hands to hold them down. Oaxaca Sencillo looks like it has more versatility in this round as it can be folded in half when fried and eaten like a calzone, but in this fight it needs to be pulled apart in sloppy sections to consume, and the load goes everywhere in the process. It seems like Mexico DF knows what it’s doing with a narrower width to aid consumption, and again that tight base holds up for a satisfying chow down. Seconds out and Oaxaca’s really on the ropes!

Partida tres / Load: Mexico DF piles in again, sensing victory, and it’s got aces up its sleeve with a layer of peppers on the lettuce, accompanied by a fine salsa verde topping and some dry cheese tasting like Parmesan to compliment the nutty flavour of the base. It’s a simple and effective formula. But where’s the beef? Oaxaca’s got three different kinds of meat topping to choose from, and utilises a slightly spicy enchiladas de cerdo (pork) to impressive effect. Whamm! It confidently takes its opponent down. It’s still 2-1 to Mexico City though.

Partida cuatro / Taste: The all important round for both contenders now, and Mexico DF is starting to look like it’s running out of steam. Its taste is spicy and richly rounded out by the flavours in the base, but it’s dry and relying too heavily on the salsa. Boom! Oaxaca City takes it down with its sensuously stringy Oaxacan cheese: what a dairy belt from the blue!

Ultima Partida / Snackisfaction: It’s all to play for in the final round, with overall satisfaction the key quality to take the title and it could go either way… Oaxaca showed all it had with its cheesy, meaty load, but it’s a lumbering monster of a snack, and hard to handle. Mexico DF is pretty and light: it rallies late in the battle and proves its mettle with a delightfully zingy aftertaste, leaving the PFB crew with that crucial desire to go back for more. It’s the winner! What a fantastic fight that was. Stay tuned for more street food battles to come readers!

Clare holds aloft the victorious Tlayuda

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