When I first came down to visit my friend Rose Burillo in Mexico City, I couldn’t wait to try the food at her new restaurant. I jokingly said to Rose before I got here, that I could eat in her restaurant all of the time to avoid getting sick. This was something that I had heard from many people before I came here, that they arrived in Mexico, got sick on their first day and then it ruined the rest of their trip. Thankfully this did not happen to me and in the years that followed I came back multiple times, and only got ill once, which was completely my fault.
There are some simple rules to follow here in Mexico, in order to avoid getting the dreaded Moctezuma’s Revenge, which may ruin your time here.
Every grocery store, in the produce section, will sell small bottles of iodine, these are critical for washing vegetables here, and they will ensure that whatever you are preparing at home will not make you sick. The two reasons why these products will make you sick is that the earth in which they are grown can cause damage to your gut, and also the way in which produce is handled. In markets and in transport, fruit and veg is never properly handled and that means bacteria and germs. A quick iodine wash and you’ll be good to go.
Generally speaking most restaurants and bars will use ice that is made from spa water in their drinks, but not always. This is why you must always ask whether or not the ice is from tap water or spa water. The tap water in Mexico City is not potable, no matter what people will tell you. In reality the water itself is potable, but the pipes which transport the water are not. If you get ice from tap water, you will get sick.
This is not the case for all street vendors but there are man in the city which just don’t follow basic hygiene rules. This may be fine for some of the locals, but for anyone else coming to the city it is a surefire way for you to get sick. There are two ways to avoid these kinds of places, the first is to see how many people are eating there, and the second is to watch how they handle meat, respect the cold chain and avoid cross contamination. Following the crowds is generally the best way for you to avoid picking a street vendor which sells unhygienic food.
Going All In
It can be exciting to arrive here and be greeted with so many food options, but if you start trying everything and filling yourself up with foreign foods, you will have difficulties. This is why it is essential that you take things slowly and integrate the food gradually.
Most importantly, be careful with the salsa, that stuff can do damage!