Around the time of New York's version of hell—the fourteenth snowstorm of last winter—I realized I could see my entire vascular system through my skin and had nearly lost my mind for lack of sun. There was only one thing to do: impulsively buy a ticket to Mexico City. It felt like the right move. I even convinced my Spanish-speaking friend to do the same. I started dreaming of vitamin D and began to incessantly talk about all the tacos I could and would eat the minute I landed: carnitas, cochinita pibil, barbacoa, and whatever else Mexico wanted to graciously allow me to devour.
I ate exactly one taco during my stay in Mexico.
There were too many other incredible things to eat instead around Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Chiapas; a universe I didn't realize existed, the same one I ponder as I type this sentence: Why don't we all just move to Mexico? Even though Mexico is a real, physical space, it has been seared into my memory as a culinary utopia; an endless summer where delicious and life-changing food is at your fingertips. The only way to prove that it wasn't just a figment of my weary winter brain is with visual evidence, to help you when you end up there.
Grilled cactus strip and french fry taco, with hot sauce at the Sunday market near Alameda Central (Mexico City).
A tlyacoyo, made of corn dough, filled with a thin layer of fava bean or cheese, and topped with salsa, cheese, and lettuce at the Sunday market near Alameda Central (Mexico City).
Empanadas filled with potato, from a market stand near Alameda Central (Mexico City).
The chile relleno that changed my life, or at least set the example for a good chile relleno: cooked just enough for a crispy outside, but not so much that the cheese inside melts and congeals at the Mercado Sonora (Mexico City).
A hamburguesa made of a super thin beef patty cooked to a crisp on a griddle with butter, topped with seared ham, cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise on a giant squishy sesame seed bun at a cluster of stands at the corner of Pedro Moreno and Av. Insurgentes (San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas).
Late night-only hamburguesa stands line the church square in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.
On the beach in Puerto Angelito, tell Augustín how many oysters you want and he'll go pull them out of the ocean, shuck them on the rocks, and serve them with lime and hot sauce right then and there (at Playa Manzanillo in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca).
Oh, and, you're welcome.
Janelle Jones is a Brooklyn-based photographer. For more of her work, pay her a visit here.
This piece originally appeared on MUNCHIES on July 31, 2014.