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So they ask a Jewish boy from Manhattan to write about Jewish food in Mexico? What, you think I should be nice? They call those fluffy pillows from Wendy's Kosher Bakery bagels? The corned beef sandwich at Klein's has two measly slices of dry meat in it-two! The pickles are from a jar! And the prices! You could plotz!

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Schwarma: think tacos al pastor with an accent.

Did I go into it with a bad attitude? You bet. But bubbeleh, I ended up learning something. So nu?

It turns out there is indeed a world of "Jewish Cuisine" in the land of pork and tacos, but it's not what you'd expect. Nothing to do with Barney Greengrass or the Carnegie Deli, my old haunts in New York.

Instead, I found "Piny" Tacos Kosher, which offers alambre de hígado, made with chicken liver. I tried schnitzel a la Veracruzana at Restaurante Sinai. And the shwarma in pita out at Shuky's in Tecamachalco is the best in town: think tacos al pastor with an accent.

I asked every Jewish Mexican I could find (and there are many, around 50,000 at last count) what their food memories are, what they think of as Jewish food in Mexico: I got a lot of different answers.

It turns out it all depends on where your abuelos hail from. Mine were from Russia, as were most in the eastern US. They ate gefilte fish, lox, borscht, and blintzes. But in Mexico, the original national identity of immigrant Jews is more diverse. It includes Greece, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon, Spain, and Portugal as well as Russia, Poland, and Germany.  That diversity shows-or at least used to-in the cooking.

The affable Clara Melameh, librarian at the Centro Cultural México-Israel in the Centro Histórico, is of Russian-Polish extraction like me. She claims to make the best gefilte fish in town. "Only there's no one left to eat it," she laments. "Nobody alive even knows what it is! My son went to live in Israel, and I'm divorced. I'm going to do all that work-for who?"  Invite me, Clara!

 

Hmm, I think there's a little culinary hegemony going on here touching on the Great Hummus Schism over who lays claim to shawarma, hummus, tahini, tabouleh, etc. I tend to identify that food with Levant/Mediterranean region, embraced by everyone in that region, including Christians.

I find it odd that the author associated Lebanese migrants to Mexico as being Jewish. I've always considered them to have been Christian Lebanese. This is certainly the predominant religious background of the Lebanese Diaspora in the New World. There have always been Jews in Mexico since the Conquest, but I always associated the Orthodox Ashkenazi to have come since World War II. I had friends who immigrated as recently as 1968 because their parents didn't want them to be grist for the mill of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

In any case, I feel for anyone trying to get *either* a decent tamiyah sandwich (aka falafel) or a good bagel, shmear with lox. You're just in the wrong country for that. The best bet for vegetarians and religious diets is to stick to what little Lebanese/Subcontinental food you can find in DF.

But hey, at least tortillas are unleavened! :)

Good news on the falafel front: new hole-in-the-wall place opened in November near the corner of Chilpancingo and Av México in Condesa. Best falafel I've had since NYC! They appear to only be open in the evenings.

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Hummus is by far one of those best foods when it comes to what you can do with it. I say we compromise fill a glass of water, and throw some hummus onto a torilla and a call it a day.

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I am a big time bagel boy, but love hummus too.

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nicholas.gilman's picture

I never "associated Lebanese migrants to Mexico as being Jewish."
I include Lebanon in the list of countries from which Jewish immigrants came - a handful were indeed Lebanese. I do not mean to imply that the majority of the large Lebanese community here is Jewish, it is not.

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The internet is funny, I live in Staten Island, but was raised in Buenos Aires. I was thinking about bagels in Buenos Aires, and since I have someone who moved back to Baires from NYC, she said that she was really gonna miss the bagels, I thought good bagels en el DF. Do they exist? I stumbled upon this story which was neat. Anyway, I did find a bagel chain in Mexico, http://www.losbagels.com/locations.html. Hope this helps.

Also, if anyone reading this article is thinking about going to Buenos Aires and would like some bagels, here are two places:

1 - http://elbagelazo.blogspot.com/
2 - http://www.tribecabagels.com.ar/

Martin O

I include Lebanon in the list of countries from which Jewish immigrants came - a handful were indeed Lebanese. I do not mean to imply that the majority of the large Lebanese community here is Jewish, it is not.

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Wow, I'd never even thought of Jewish Mexican food. That's certainly something I would love to give a try. Actually, I'm not really familiar with either type of cuisine. Something I'm going to have to rectify. Bev

Many of us don't know about this event. Your post is helpful in this case. it will help people know about such nobel events and will create awareness.
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certainly the predominant religious background of the Lebanese Diaspora in the New World. There have always been Jews in Mexico since the Conquest, but I always associated the Orthodox Ashkenazi to have come since World War II. I had friends who immigrated as recently as 1968 because their parents didn't want them to be grist for the mill of the Arab/Israeli conflict. online degree | life experience management degree | life experience marketing degree | manufacturing management degree | environmental management degree

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I grew up in Mexico City in a neighborhood called Tecamachalco, known for it´s large Jewish population. Mexico City has the biggest concentration of Jews in Mexico, particularly in the Polanco area and some of the neighboring colonias (neighborhoods), including the one I mentioned.

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I´m not Jewish myself but became quite familiar with the Jewish traditions since a lot of my friends growing up were Jews.
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Thanks for share! Good news on the falafel front: new hole-in-the-wall place opened in November near the corner of Chilpancingo and Av México in Condesa. Best falafel I've had since NYC! They appear to only be open in the evenings. Data Recovery Software|Guard Process|Restore Deleted Files|进程保护|Recover Deleted Pictures From Memory Card

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Kosher food to Jewish Scarfs to Haredi Orthodox men

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