Some Mexican dishes are not popular with tourists: menudo, tripe soup, is an example.
In the typical Mexican restaurant, the hacienda-style building with colorful tiled fountains and bars, lots of reds and browns produce a gala atmosphere. Mariachi music livens the place.
Ironically the leading restaurants in Mexico City are likely to feature French menu items.
Tequila, made from one variety’ of the cactus plant, was once considered a peasant drink. Now it is one of the most popular of strong spirits in the U.S. and is the number one drink in Mexican restaurants. Mescal, also made from the cactus plant, is drunk mainly by the country people, the campesinos. Beer is the other widely popular alcoholic beverage, and is favored by many tourists as a way to avoid drinking contaminated water.
To help avoid contracting diarrhea and other food and beverage-born diseases, visitors to Mexico and most less developed nations can take these precautions:
1. Eat only food which has been thoroughly cooked and, hopefully, not contaminated by food handlers prior to service. Avoid any uncooked food, such as pork, which may harbor the trichinosis worm, which gets into the blood stream and fastens onto the muscle tissue. Meat, not completely cooked, may harbor a tape worm whose larvae can migrate through the blood stream and lodge in the brain. When this happens there is no known cure.
2. For beverages, drink only water which has been boiled for at least fifteen minutes or which has been purified by a halogen tablet according to instructions. Drink only pasteurized milk and/or well-accepted bottled drinks such as Coca-Cola. Drink beer or wine, which are self-purifying because of acidity or alcohol present.
3. If the water supply is unsafe, so too are the ice cubes made from the water.
4. Don’t forget that the water condensation on the outside of cans or bottles can be contaminated by the ice in which it has been packed. Dry them before opening and pouring.
5. To purify suspect water, use ten drops of 1 percent bleach per quart of water if the water looks clear, and twenty drops if it is cloudy. Let it stand for thirty minutes. If you don’t detect a slight chlorine odor, repeat the process. Iodine can be used for water purification. Five drops of iodine or 2 percent iodine per quart of clear water, ten drops per cloudy.
6. Eat no fruit or vegetables which have been contaminated on their surfaces when growing, or that have been contaminated by water used in cleaning. To be safe, eat only fruits which can be peeled. Avoid salads.
7. Avoid those foods in which bacteria can thrive foods such as milk products, eggs, or any protein food which is not in an acid condition.
8. Frequently and thoroughly wash your own hands. A study in Mexico revealed that 15 percent of coins and paper money had diarrhea-causing micro-organisms on them. It makes little sense to insist on peeling your own oranges if your hands are contaminated.