Mexico City is having a moment. Home to some of the world’s best restaurants, cutting-edge museums, innovative architecture, and more than 21 million people — the metropolis is bursting with energy. Cocoflosser Andrea recently adventured into the excitement, and came back with tips on what to do and see in the bustling big city.
Stroll through La Casa Azul (The Blue House), where the famously tweezer-adverse Frida Kahlo spent much of her life. The building’s cobalt-blue exterior may be dramatic, but it’s the interior that really reflects the celebrated painter’s personality. Fiercely proud of their Mexican heritage, Kahlo and her husband, the muralist Diego Rivera, filled the house with Mesoamerican sculpture, skeleton figures, masks, ex-votos, and other regional art. You can also see the mirror above Kahlo’s bed that allowed her to paint self-portraits even when she was ill.
Did you know?The couple also kept a virtual zoo, including spider monkeys (which appear in several of Kahlo’s self-portraits), an eagle named Gertrudis Caca Blanca (or Gertrude White Shit), and a parrot named Bonito, who would perform tricks for pats of butter at the table.
Set aside an afternoon to visit the ruins of Teotihuacán, the former cosmopolitan center of Mesoamerica. Located less than 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, the famed archeological site is studded with numerous pyramids, many adorned with massive sculptures of serpents whose bared teeth look like they could use a good flossing. Take in the sunset atop the Pyramid of the Sun, the world’s third largest pyramid. You’ll have to climb 248 steps, but the view of golden light glinting off of the surrounding ancient city is well worth the workout.
Did you know? Around 200 A.D., workers finished stacking the Pyramid of the Sun’s 2.8 million tons of stone and earth—all without the use of metal tools, pack animals, or the wheel.
Embrace the fighting spirit and release pent up stress at the Arena México, home of the raucous mecca of luchalibre, Mexico’s version of pro wrestling. Watch as the técnicos, the “good guys,” duke it out against the rudos, the “bad guys.” Like the WWE in the U.S., lucha libre takes a decidedly theatrical approach to wrestling, and the spectacular stunts sometimes spill outside of the ring and into the audience. Shouting is encouraged, beer is served by the liter in giant paper cups, and everyone has a great time cheering on the orchestrated chaos.
Did you know? El Santo, one of the most popular luchadors (fighters) ever, didn’t reveal his face in public for 42 years. After he died in 1984, he was buried wearing his iconic silver mask.
As the famed poet Pablo Neruda once wrote, “México está en los mercados,” or “Mexico is in its markets.” The capital is home to more than 1,000 open-air markets, where you can find a dizzying array of local specialties. The mother of them all is La Merced, whose aromatic main hall spans the size of four football fields and is filled with the scent of thousands of chiles. Ping from stall to stall, filling up on antojitos (little tastes), like flavorful tacos al pastor, blue corn quesadillas, decadent frutas en tacha(figs, bitter oranges, sweet potatoes, and other fruits preserved in syrup), and balls of dulce de leche for dessert.
Did you know? In recent years, some of the city’s upscale restaurants have begun incorporating traditional ingredients, like escamoles (ant eggs), gusanos de maguey (maguey worms), and chapulines (grasshoppers), into their dishes.
Once night falls, the music gets turned up. You can find clubs to suit any taste here—from live bands playing traditional music, like norteño and cumbia, to DJs spinning electronic hybrids, like Nortec (norteño + techno). Start the evening early with a little pre-party action known as precopeo, literally “pre-cupping,” at a friend’s house. Sip on indigenous drinks like mezcal (distilled from agave), pulque (fermented maguey sap), or tepache (made from fermented pineapple rinds). Or skip the hangover altogether and stick to refreshing aguas frescas made with hibiscus or tamarind juice.
Did you know? In Mexico City, Thursdays are also known as “little Fridays,” orjuebebes, a combination ofjueves (Thursday) andbeber (to drink).
1. Hundreds of _____ hang from trees on a chinampa (raised garden) in the heart of Mexico City’s Xochimilco canal.
2. Mexico City is _______ 10 times faster than Venice.
3. A doctor once told Diego Rivera that he was unfit for __________, a diagnosis he cheerfully accepted.
4. Tequila, mezcal, and pulque are all made from _____ ______.
5. In 2009, 39,879 people ______ at the same time in Mexico City’s main square, setting a Guinness World Record.
6. ___ ______ have a creamy consistency and a mild taste, leading some to call them Mexican caviar.
7. After the conquest of Mexico, the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, offered Hernán Cortés and his companions 50 jars of foaming _________.
8. Carlos Slim Helú, the world’s fourth richest person, has lived in the same ____-bedroom home in his native Mexico City for more than 40 years.
9. Frida Kahlo had numerous affairs with women and men, including with the Russian revolutionary, ____ ______
10. Marco Polo brought _______ from China to Europe, and then Spanish explorers introduced the party staple to Mexico.
Answers: 1. dolls 2. sinking 3. monogamy 4. agave plants 5. kissed 6. Ant larvae; or Ant eggs 7. chocolate 8. six 9. Leon Trotsky 10. piñatas
Recipe courtesy of the New York Times
1. Heat broiler. Place tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet and set about 4 inches below broiler. Roast until dark and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip over and roast on other side until tomatillos are soft and charred in spots and chiles are soft all the way through, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2. Transfer tomatillos and chiles to a blender along with juices on a baking sheet. Add cilantro sprigs, then blend to a coarse purée.
3. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, wide casserole or saucepan and add onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add a little salt, and stir in garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Turn heat to medium-high and add tomatillo purée. Cook, stirring often, until salsa thickens and leaves a canal when you run a wooden spoon down the middle. Add broth, bring to a simmer, and simmer 10 minutes or until salsa coats the back of a spoon.
5. Beat eggs in a bowl and season with a little salt. Turn heat to low and stir eggs into salsa. Add chopped cilantro and stir until eggs are set. Mixture should be creamy.
6. Stir in tortilla chips, making sure they are completely submerged, and remove from heat. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese and serve at once.
Remember how happy you felt running on the playground as a kid? In northern Mexico, members of the Tarahumara Indian tribe have learned how to keep that feeling alive for their entire lives. Their love of long-distance races and barefoot running style has attracted worldwide attention and was the subject of the documentary Goshen: Places of Refuge for the Running People, by Dana Richardson and Sarah Zentz. Earlier this year, Richardson told Competitor magazine that the Tarahumara’s “laughter while running their traditional races was not only contagious, but inspiring.” With the warm weather and longer days, this is the perfect season to rediscover the joy of running yourself. Here are four tips to help put the spring back in your step:
Among its many strengths, your smile has the power to reduce stress hormones and boost mood enhancing hormones like endorphins and serotonin. In his fascinating TED Talk, Ron Gutman, the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act, discusses some other surprising benefits of flashing your pearly whites.
British researchers found that seeing a smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as eating 2,000 bars of chocolate or receiving nearly $20,000 in cash.
In a 30-year study, researchers at U.C. Berkeley discovered that students who had wider smiles went on to have more fulfilling marriages, and a greater sense of well-being and happiness.
Researchers determined that the span of a Major League “player’s smile could actually predict the span of his life,” says Gutman. “Players who didn't smile in their pictures lived an average of only 72.9 years, where players with beaming smiles lived an average of almost 80 years.”