For tourists, the essence of foreign places is found in monuments, museums, and fine dining establishments. For travelers, it is found in the people, their day to day lives, and the idiosyncratic singularities of their culture and cuisine. For the latter breed, few things capture the spirit of a place quite like the local street food.
In Los Cabos this spirit is found in the high-pitched whistle of the camote vendor as steam escapes from the long-stemmed pipe rising from his cart’s built-in oven, alerting people for blocks around to the presence of his sweet potato treats. It is found in corn husk-wrapped tamales, and in the raspados sold on the beach, crushed ice treats drizzled with flavored syrups like rompope or frambuesa, and a favored summer poultice to be applied against the burn of tropical heat.
Image: Alejandro Linares Garcia
The carts and stands of the roving vendors are pushed, pulled, sometimes attached to bicycles, and in Cabo San Lucas are even to be found on the water, where pangas pull up to the boats so that watch-bound sailors may enjoy an afternoon treat. Fresh fruit stands tend to remain in place throughout the day, whereas chicharron sellers seem to be constantly in motion, pushing their carts, ringing their bells, and crisscrossing the city streets with bags hung on hooks like ballpark cotton candy, a small umbrella often affixed to protect their precious cargo.
Chicharrones are perhaps the most ubiquitous of all the local street treats. These fried pork rinds are available in various shapes and flavors, and are liberally bathed in Salsa Valentina, often poured from a plastic Coca-Cola bottle. Potato chips slathered in Valentina are another favorite, and if you happen to duck into a nearby cantina for a bit of shade and a cold beer, this versatile Guadalajaran salsa is also a popular condiment for palomitas de maiz (otherwise known as popcorn).