The Queer Anti-Guide to Snacking in Mexico City
In D.F., street food (much like queerness) is a mix of new and old. Foreigners are told not to eat it, but who cares? Come and eat as much as you can.
Mexico City is a place of intersections and tensions. In el DF, glittery millionaires’ neighborhoods like Santa Fe rub up against the slums that their existence continuously reproduces. Discourses also move to, from, and through Mexico City, as concepts migrate from south to north and viceversa, always changing as they move. It was in this place of friction, both material and theoretical, that we found each other this summer, eating a lot of street food, and thinking about the complexity of translating concepts of the “queer” into a context where the term doesn’t carry the same historical baggage as in the US.
There are many points where queerness and snacks intersect (interact, fuck…). Queer culture and snack culture are both on the fringes of what’s considered normal, legal, and healthy; they stand as invitations to hedonism and the celebration of all bodies. We decided to write this guide in order to take you on a tour through the foods and the practices that escape the fancy restaurants and academia – through the cheap, the delicious, the informal and the unregulated; through the culinary and the queer street life of this humongous city.
Street food is widely available throughout el DF, yet its distribution and the forms it takes give us a lot of information about the structures of power that condition where it can be found. Police harassment against informal vendors in el metro has increased in the past couple of years, while food truck culture has suddenly become a trend in higher income neighborhoods. Street food here – much like queerness – is therefore a mix of new and old, always mutating, always sneaking around formal commercial networks, playful in its ingenuity, and at the same time often looked down upon. Foreigners are told not to eat it, but who cares? Let’s talk about the cheap food that (allegedly) will make you sick, and the practices that the people who eat these foods enjoy. Come and eat as much as you can; this guide is for you.
Before we get started, you should note that 1 USD equals about 17 Mexican pesos right now. This means you can get almost any food on this list for a dollar or less. But don’t be fooled, that doesn’t mean we chilangos buy everything we run into because it’s all oh-so-cheap. The minimum wage here is around $4.30 per day and the average Mexican has at least one dependent. You can do the depressing math yourself, or read this article if you know Spanish and want to dig more into the issue.