RV Packing – Food

       Packing for Mexico – Food for the RV

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by the cooks in the family is “What foods should we stock up on before we leave? What food do you take?”

MexicoveggiesI have heard that border authorities have confiscated large volumes of food in RV’s and that you are entitled to only bring in a reasonable amount at a time. I have not experienced this however, but have had fruit, vegetables, chicken, egg and pork products confiscated as I pass through various agriculture checks. So be reasonable. You can usually get everything you need in Mexico.

Food is an important consideration in life and when you are on the road in a foreign country, you want to ensure that you are both healthy and happy. As we all know, food just tastes better when you are camping and most of us want to ensure that our Mexican camping experience will continue that tradition.

There are a number of large supermarket chains now popping up everywhere in Mexico. For a really long trip I suggest you go to Sam’s Clubs and Wal-Mart so you can pick up items that you really miss. They even have a few shelves at these locations where they stock some items they know Canadians and Americans enjoy.

Shopping Venues – Stores and Markets

LibertadMarketFood is generally a little more expensive in Mexican supermarkets and sometime less expensive in open air markets.

Mercado Libertad in Guadalajara. Three levels of bargains

I think great food really can make a trip; I love to cook and my family likes my efforts. I am being very opinionated in the following but unabashedly I think it important:

General Discussion About Food in Mexico

Pork

In terms of quality and Gringos’ taste buds I would say pork has about the same flavor. The bacon has improved but is often still too salty. If I am in one location, I find a butcher that has smoked bacon and cuts it as per my instructions. It is the same price as packaged bacon but tastes better!

Chicken

Chicken is often more fatty – a slightly different but good flavor. It is usually very yellow and usually comes with feet and head. The yellow color is from feeding the chickens marigolds. Often these birds are really big and fat.

Check. It is often cheaper to buy chicken on an outdoor rotisserie than it is to cook it yourself.

Beef

Beef is not aged as it is in Canada and the US so it can be tough. Cuts such as steak and roasts are usually disappointing for me – either at a restaurant or on my own grill – because quite simply they are as tough as a shoe and taste significantly “different” to our taste buds.

However when you need a steak, marinate it in the mush of 1/2 a papaya. It will tenderize it naturally. If the marinade is left on too long the meat will turn to mush.

Cuts such as hamburger, ribs, or stewing beef are fine because you don’t have to be concerned about “tenderness” and the flavor is somewhat hidden by sauces and flavoring.

The exception to this rule is Sonoran Beef and beef from the Monterrey region. Both of these areas tend to have very tasty beef.

lobsterdinnerFish

Fresh lobster served on the beach at Playa Carrizalillo

Fish and shellfish is often sold right at the campsites and is extremely fresh. Fishermen drive from campsite to campsite selling various products out of an iced cooler in the back of a truck.

I have found some scallops on the Bay of Conception tough but I think it has more to do with my preparation than the scallops themselves.

Fresh snapper on both the Gulf and Pacific sides is fantastic and my gourmet son Adam said he liked it better than lobster. An amazing compliment. Dorado is found most coastal places and if you have been to Hawaii and eaten Mahi-mahi, then you have eaten Dorado.

Milk, Eggs and Butter

Milk used to be sold in bricks and it was unusual to get the plastic liters (quarts) or 4 liter (gallon) of milk. It is changing now that there are much larger supermarkets. It is still 50/50 whether you can get 2%, and if you are RVing you fridge probably can’t accommodate the large 4 liter size anyway. We always take a few bricks because if we run out of “fresh”, we can open a brick for our coffee or latte in the morning.

Eggs are great and often sold by weight rather than by count. You often just purchase a few at a time and they wrap them in a plastic bag. A delicate ride home. They are fine though and often very tasty.

Butter is often not salted. Ensure you purchase “con sal.” The brand we like is Lala.

MexicoGrainsCereals, Breads and Breakfast Foods

Most cereals and breakfast foods are sold with the familiar brands. Kellogg’s. Aunt Jemima. Beware: they do tend to be a bit sweeter than the American counterpart.

Bread sold in mini-supers are more than likely “Bimbo” or that soft white doughy stuff – that parents hate and kids love. Think Wonder bread. Bill and I buy rolls and interesting bread at bakeries and little shops.

Some Veggies in the market

Vegetables and Fruit

Supermarkets sell a good variety of vegetables and in ok shape.

fruitsMarkets are less expensive however they often don’t look all too fresh. It’s 50/50. In some areas roadside stands sell various produce and fruit. These are great and good buys. Beware of road inspection sites. Guerrero Negro on the Baja for example. They will confiscate various items as you pass into Baja California Sur.

Ken McIntyre from Pomeroy Washington writes: Under food, I would suggest you advise RV travelers to dip their fresh fruit and vegetables in “Fit” when they return from shopping. It can be purchased in many grocery stores in Mexico where tourists are common.

It is a powdered bleach that is easy to use and store. Takes about 5 minutes to soak and 15 minutes to dry (I think, it’s been awhile).

I’t’s getting more common in the US.

Food Packing Suggestions

  1. If you are a beef eater take some steaks or a roast or two with you. Hamburger you can buy nearly everywhere in Mexico.
  2. Bring some bacon but not too much. See if you like the bacon and plan accordingly for the next trip.
  3. Bring any special sauces that you love with you i.e. special canned tomato sauce to make spaghetti. Stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, meat, onions and pepper you can buy there. Bring the canned mushrooms for emergencies. In some areas and Walmarts, fresh mushrooms are plentiful.
  4. I bring oriental food stuffs because I am from Vancouver and I can’t seem to exist with out 1 meal a week of either Chinese food or Japanese food. I bring sushi wraps and wassabi. Hot and sour soup packets and oyster sauce. These little additions are fantastic with the natural regional foods we purchase in Mexico such as monster shrimp, red snapper and lobster. However even these oriental spices, sauces and condiments are popping up everywhere in Mexican Supermarkets!
  5. I also bring some hollandaise and béarnaise packets. I like making the unexpected on the road.
  6. Bring something little that is special for each person. My son likes smoked oysters. While stores often stock them, I like to make sure I have them on hand for a great moment. My daughter is a pasta nut so pulling out an Alfredo sauce is heaven….Bill likes blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup. I pack frozen blueberries and the syrup.
  7. I pack for the occasion. At Christmas I pack a frozen turkey breast. Some mincemeat. Birthday cake mixes.
  8. I pack for soul food from home. I am from Vancouver BC so I pack some little frozen packs of salmon – not just for my sushi – but also for when I meet up with a Mexican fisher who has never tasted salmon.
  9. Definitely pack the cooking utensils you love. Last trip I brought a tiny deep fry – for French fries – and a tiny cappuccino maker for those morning lattes. I used the deep fry often and the cappuccino maker nearly every day. Of course I brought pizza pans for the kids.

canned fruitsThere are many food items to be experimental with including this road-side variety of canned goods.

chickensinthemarketChickens appear to be yellow from the marigolds that they are fed.

meat marketBeef hangs in the open of a market in the town of Ometepec.

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