After my family moved to the states, many of our summer holidays were spent in Mexico. I looked forward to those summers in Mexico with mixed feelings. The bad part was that I had to leave my American friends behind. But the good part was that I got to see my extended family. My family is blessed with a huge number of people. All very loving and caring people. It was great catching up with all of our tias, tios, and primos (aunties, uncles and cousins). So really the good always outweighed the bad.
Another really great thing about those summers in Mexico was the freedom that my siblings and I were allowed. Our small Mexican hometown is safe, crime is virtually unheard of. That same freedom was not one given to us in our American hometown. Largely because you need a car to go anywhere in the states, and in our small town your legs take you everywhere. Our legs would take us from one end of town visiting a tia down the other end to simply hangout at the plaza, the town’s main square.
We always took the early morning flight down to Mexico. I remember that every night before our flight I would lay awake with anticipation. I wanted the night to hurry up and finish so we could go see our familia. When sleep finally took over my body I would have wonderful dreams. Those dreams always seemed to be about the food that I was going to eat in my town.
I would dream of paletas or Mexican frozen popsicles. Paletas are mostly made with fruits, unlike the more common dairy based ones many of you are familiar with. There was one in particular I always dreamt of, paleta de chile. Oh, my mouth waters just writing this. I would also dream of these hard candy lollipops flavored with mango and chile. The other thing I would also dream about was the crunchy street snacks that, you guessed it, had chile on them. I guess this is living up to the stereotype of everything Mexican having chile on it. But I assure you not everything does, this is just what I craved.
One of those crunchy street snacks I have always craved is palomitas con salsa , or popcorn with hot sauce. Usually we bought them from street vendors that walked around our town or from the local corner market. It was great, the palomitas were filled inside a plastic bag. Then you could choose what you wanted on them. Of course I wanted chile or hot sauce on mine. The hot sauce was poured over the palomitas, as much or little as you wanted.
I loved that freedom of just walking and talking to my cousin or aunt while stuffing my face with palomitas con salsa . But the best part was waiting until you got to the bottom. To some the idea of soggy popcorn may seem unappetizing. To me the soggy popcorn swimming in hot sauce at the bottom of the bag was the best part. So spicy but ay que bueno !
This favorite snack does not require a recipe. All you need is freshly popped, unflavored, popcorn and hot sauce of your choice. You could use anything from Valentina hot sauce, Cholula hot sauce, Tapatio hot sauce to your favorite Mexican hot sauce brand. I like to add some hot sauce, eat the covered popcorn and add more hot sauce as I work my way to the bottom. If you don’t fancy soggy popcorn then you could also use chile powder. Lastly if you would like to add another flavor to the palomitas squeeze some lime over them, yes it is good!
Those Mexican summer holidays were the best ones of my life. Ones I would not have traded for anything. The food, the freedom, the climate, the sights, and catching up with loved ones are all cherished memories.
How about you, do you have a childhood favorite snack?
If any of you are interested in the snacks I spoke about, these are it. The first is a great recipe book for Mexican paletas, as well as other recipes. The second is the spicy lollipops and the last are Duritos which are flour based snacks that are fried. Check them out 🙂
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…