El Fogon in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

El Fogon

El Fogon

Every few years we head down to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for a week of reading, relaxing, and eating authentic Mexican and Yucatecan cuisine. This was our fifth trip, and it’s always interesting to see how the town has changed. We have a few favorite restaurants that we visit each time, and we always try some new places hoping to find another favorite. On our previous visit we had lunch at El Fogon on 30th Avenue between 6th and 8th Streets and liked it so much that we had to return this time. Note the location! Our taxi driver took us to a different place named El Fogon on Constituyentes that was closed for some reason, so we ended up eating at the nearby El Jurado, which was fine but not outstanding.

Frijoles charros

Frijoles charros

A couple of days later, we made it to our El Fogon (rave reviews on Trip Advisor here). I started with the frijoles charros (cowboy beans), which are pinto beans in a rich broth with onion, garlic, and bacon. As I write this it’s nearly lunchtime and I’m starting to salivate.

2013-05-30_13-44-29_632For my main course, I had a plate of al pastor, which is marinated pork that is roasted on a vertical rotisserie until it is tender and juicy; tuck it in a tortilla with some white onion, cilantro, and lime juice and you’ll wonder why you ever bother to eat anything else. I made about seven tacos from this order, so ordinary eaters may want to share a plate. What can I say? We can’t get food like this in Bloomington!

Tacos al pastor

Tacos al pastor

Juliana exhibited more restraint and ordered just two tacos, but she was also suffering some sort of cold/flu bug. That didn’t stop her from ordering cebollas (grilled onions) for the table, and we were all glad she did.

Al pastor at El Fogon

Al pastor at El Fogon

Apparently this spit-roasting technique was introduced to Central Mexico by Lebanese immigrants who made shawarma, spit-roasted lamb (hence al pastor, “in the style of the shepherd”–thanks Wikipedia!). If you view the full image on the right, you’ll see a big chunk of pineapple on top of the pork. An enzyme in pineapple, bromelain, breaks down protein and tenderizes meat.

Well, I think that’s enough for one post. In my next post on Playa del Carmen, I’ll share pictures of tacos full of insects, so stay tuned!

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