FROM FUSSY TO FOODIE: How I became a Culinary Food Guide
By @Aleyn Merchand, a food tour guide at Puebla de Ensueño
Remember when you were a teenager? Were you a fussy eater? I sure was!
My mom and I migrated to Chicago when I was 6, and just before I turned 16, she suddenly moved us back to Puebla, Mexico. My culture shock was especially evident in the food. In the States I basically stuck to school lunches and the basics of Mexican food: red rice, beans, and some variety of meat with vegetables stew. Nothing exciting. On my first visit to a Mexican market with my sister, I almost threw up at the sight of chickens being plucked, cut, and stacked into breasts, thighs, drumsticks, gizzards, and so on.
In Puebla, I ate my mom’s or sister’s home-cooked meals most of the time, yet it still took my stomach a good 3 months to learn how to digest authentic Mexican cooking. But even past that initial stage, I was still a willful, unadventurous eater. It wasn’t until my late 20s, when I started dating my husband, that I was introduced to maguey worms, ant larvae, pulque, all kinds of innards from heart to brains, and my now personal favorite, Huitlacoche (not a week goes by that I don’t make it at home in quesadillas or in a creamy soup).
And the more I tasted, the more adventurous I became. I’ve racked up frequent-foodie miles by tasting local dishes in several countries: duck sweetbreads, and mussels in white wine in France, Roman-style tripe, a cow stomach sandwich called Lampredotto in Florence, and squid ink pasta in Venice, blood sausage in Germany, and tongue tacos at a street stall after a night of partying in Mexico.
A self-taught cook and self-proclaimed foodie, I now run food tours in Puebla, where I navigate the market like a pro and encourage tourists to try anything from crickets with lime, to crispy pork skin fresh out of the deep fryer.
Take one of our Culinary Tours and I promise you´ll love the food and the fun stories I can share with you!