April 19, 2019

No TEX-MEX served!! I'm often asked by visitors on the island " Where can I get the BEST Mexican food?" I smile and explain that if you are looking for three cheese enchiladas made of flour tortillas and covered with sauce and cheese, you've come to the wrong place! For one thing cheese is very expensive here on an island that largely supports itself with the fishing trade, only second to tourism.... well it's not enchilada heaven. Sorry to burst your bubble!

True Mexican food on this island is fresh lobster, shrimp, red snapper, grouper, lion fish and octopus prepared simply with a few fresh, raw, local ingredients that are presented as if a kaleidoscope was consulted. Typical sauces are simply made from choices of the abundance of dried peppers found at the Mercado’s. The local beachfront eateries offer a nice variety of grilled or fried versions of these... and of course a grilled lobs...

March 13, 2019

Tamales (or tamal, spanish singular) have been served for HUNDREDS of years in Mexico. Mesoamerican families served this “wrapped food” to the Spaniards during their visits to Mexico. Corn played an important role in the Mayan religious culture, so consequently eating corn tamales was a sacred part of their lives.                                                                            

On this island, tamales are made of masa harina, ground corn flour, that is mixed with lard, oil or water to make a dough. They are typical...

February 20, 2019

As promised, let me introduce you to my favorite, family owned coconut cart on the island. This cart is parked daily at the north end of a pedestrian only street, in a space that is rented on a monthly basis. This practical, handmade cart serves about 40 coconuts every day to the parched tourists, who have spent a little too much time on the beach, or to the passerby’s that just want to try this tropical treat. Coconuts, cherished for their vitamin packed water and nutritious meat, have long been a staple in tropical locations. Picked from the coconut palm tree, these fresh young, green coconuts offer a sweet, nutty and satisfying taste.

Walk or drive up in your moto/golf cart to this centrally located coconut cart and Hule (dad), Monica (mom), Keyla (daughter) or David (son) will open you a young, cold coconut packed with nutrients. These family members are all machete experts and with...

February 13, 2019

The turquoise waters surrounding this island, no doubt boast a variety of fresh fish. Sport fisherman arrive to challenge the sea with catches of blue and white marlin, sailfish, some tuna species and mahi mahi (dorado). Not a fisherwoman, I must stick to my knowledge of the fresh catch that makes its way to my table. Typically consists of snapper (pargo), grouper (mero or abadejo), hogfish (sometimes called hog snapper, but NOT a snapper) and now appearing … lionfish.

All these fish find their way to the island’s restaurants. A long time snapper fan, I now enjoy the delicate, yet succulent taste of the hogfish. With the overfishing of snapper and grouper, hogfish is readily available. The hogfish has a bright orange to coral color, with bright red eyes and a long snout for burrowing in the sand to hunt for food. Lion fish, a less common choice, but equally delightful, is slowly becoming...

February 6, 2019

On this island paradise, portable eateries are certainly not a new thing. For years, some local families have created delicious food in their small cocinas, not just for personal consumption, but for sale in a food cart. Not to be confused with a food truck, these small carts are usually pushed into El Centro to a designated parking area on the street. Some carts have been modified to include two wheels and a seat, using an old bicycle, for much easier transportation. Regardless of its mobility method, these carts seem to have a spot that is “theirs”. Some cart vendors are constantly moving to places that tourists and locals might be gathering.

One of the smaller side streets boast a local torta (sandwich) street vendor that seems to be a crowd pleaser for many locals. The local islanders gather around this tiny cart and load up their tortas with, what I assume is pork or chorizo and then...

November 28, 2018

I’ve been on a lettuce kick lately… in Texas and Isla. The island grocery has had some lovely, fresh varieties and I have indulged, as well as at my favorite eateries. Yes, I eat salads, fruits and veggies in Mexico… and I TOTALLY understand those that choose not to enjoy the greens. At our casa, I wash our veggies in MICRODYN, which is designed to kill bacteria on these plants. I’m pretty diligent about it.

Most restaurants on the island advertise proper cleaning of produce, but if they don’t, I ask. If I’m not satisfied with their answer, I choose something else. In other words, I use good judgement. I make my own decisions.  I have never had any issues eating whatever I choose. BUT, I also drink LOTS of fresh, bottled water. With our hot weather and extremely high humidity, consuming water is #1 in my book. I also believe it keeps my body healthy and clean of the “bad stuff." 

When...

October 24, 2018

As the Texas weather changes to Fall and Texans return to outdoor living and cooking, I began to focus on the similarities of the two cultures that I am lucky enough to know, live and embrace. On the island of Isla Mujeres, in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula in the country of Mexico, the practice of outdoor living never changes. Families gather on the patio around a small grill as a daily practice of food preparation and comradery.  Conversations are jolly and focus is on the individuals at hand. The young and the elderly, all present for the sheer joy of cooking and conversation.

In Texas it is much the same. Maybe not necessarily out of the need of the grill, but perhaps for the joy of laughter and discussions of the latest matters at hand. A rejoining to the simple things, like the joy of talking to a person, rather than to reading a text or an INSTAGRAM posted by so...

October 17, 2018

After years of trying to determine a lifestyle for my husband and I, that was healthy, delicious and completely satisfying, we have determined that the PALEO LIFESTYLE fits our needs perfectly. I experimented with a few paleo recipes, tweaked them to our needs and one day I found myself switching from a kitchen full of flours and carbs to a completely paleo kitchen. This grain-free, dairy-free (yes, no cheese), sugar-free (added cane or processed sugar) was no longer an experiment in our lives, but a lifestyle we both enjoyed and craved. Gluten flours were replaced with nut flours and cashew cheese now occupies the once milk-based cheese drawer and a sugar bowl no longer exists. Severe... yes! Did we look back… no!!!

I think the ability to still create breads that are delicious and satisfying (yes.. I bake now), as well as the ability to still have fresh fruit (limited) in our diet, made...

September 19, 2018

This past weekend we celebrated Mexican Independence Day in Isla. Día de la Independencia is a national holiday in Mexico celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain’s rule and also serves as a way to honor the ones who fought and died for its independence. 

The elaborate celebrations actually began on Saturday, September 15th, the day prior to Independence Day. National leaders around the country reenact El Grito de Dolores or the Cry of Dolores, given by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 15th, 1810, urging the citizens to revolt and band together to gain Mexico’s freedom from Spanish rule. His plea worked and the masses organized and began the Mexican War of Independence. In 1821, the Spaniards rule of Mexico ended and Mexico had successfully gained its independence! September 16th is now celebrated annually, as the beginning of that freedom and celebrated with gusto!

Motos, bicycl...

August 29, 2018

As the turquoise tide rolled in this past week, it brought with it my dearest friend of forty years and her charming, twenty-something daughter. When guests arrive, the rhythms of my daily life change, as I focus my gaze on sharing the rich spectrum of activities, culture and food that Isla Mujeres has to offer… which can be a challenge in only a few days. As expected, my friend and I giggled like teenagers, as we reminisced about times gone by and the unforgettable memories that our two families have made together over the years. Her daughter, my goddaughter, filled with a wonderful old, bohemian soul, laughed as hard as we did, and interjected new perspectives on our old ones. She is an aspiring young chef in Houston, with a keen eye on the paleo lifestyle also, defying the imagination in her all paleo kitchen and keeping me on my toes in the cocina!  Follow her on Instagram, @stower!!...

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