Guess I have a thing for border cities. I used to live in Shenzhen, China, a city that straddles the Hong Kong border. Back when Hong Kong still stamped passports, I’d sometimes cross just to buy a drink, or to witness a public restroom that had soap, or to change the equivalent of US$2.
There’s clearly something about the atmosphere of border cities that is a lure. Partially, it’s the international aspect, but it’s also the fact that internal migration often plays a large role in the composition of a frontier town. Consequently, you can sometimes see a great variety in food in such places as Shenzhen and Tijuana, in the state of Baja California, Mexico, right across the border from the suburbs of San Diego, California. Today, we’ll check out a few different – though mostly local – meals sampled in Tijuana and its southerly neighbor of Puerto Nuevo, part of the beach resort called Rosarito.
Another thing many border cities share is notoriety (for whatever reason). Tijuana and again, Shenzhen are two oft-cited examples of this…naturally by folks living on the other side of the border. For the most part, bollocks. As in most places, don’t wander around tugging one of those gold bullion vending machines on your person, and you’ll be fine. Oh, and don’t go to the bad neighborhoods. Duh.
Let’s abruptly move on to the food:
Flautas (flutes), or tacos enrollados (rolled tacos, this time with chicken) with guacamole, grated cheese, crema, and lettuce. Starting off with an appetizer that will already leave me full. Great idea, eh?
Note to self: I need a “full meter” somewhere in this post.
¿Curious about the history of tacos al pastor? You can thank eastern Mediterranean immigrants for that picture.
Have another photo of tacos al pastor, this time, with the vitamin C- and fiber-packed jicama.
Tacos de pescado y un taco de camarones (fish tacos and a shrimp taco)–one of the primary gastronomic reasons I’ve been to Tijuana a few times. Ok, it is fried, but I compensate for that fact by walking to and fro the border crossing…
Dessert time. The bricks flecked with (and without) pecans are called jamoncillo (de leche), aka Mexican fudge. As that stuff isn’t commonly found in New York – and due to a request from a friend across the border – I tried some. I’d buy it again, if only I weren’t so full from everything else. Yawn, such a cliché refrain.
In Madrid, you might eat churros with hot chocolate, but in Tijuana, you eat them standing behind traffic-choked lanes bound for San Diego. These way-too-sweets are another reason I like crossing the border, and as an added bonus, they were encanelados, filled with cinnamon cream.
In short, Tijuana isn’t as bad as you want it to be. Just look at the food!
See anything you like? Have you visited Tijuana/Baja California?