Growing up in the California Central Valley, Tamika remembers attending the city fair and seeing people walking around, munching on the sweet and savory tastes of Mexican elote. Elote (which literally means corn on the cob in Spanish) is a common street food in Mexico, but is just as popular in the Western and Southwestern states of the U.S. It makes for great street food because of its simple ingredients and ease of portability. You use the husk as a handle to hold the corn with one hand, while you enjoy a refreshing Jarrito with the other. Never tried elote? You are in for a treat!
Food has an important role in building a country’s or region’s cultural identity. Latino foods reflect the enormous social diversity resulting from Latin America’s history of colonization and interracial marriage. Street foods are a wide range of ready-to-eat foods and beverages, prepared and sold by a vendor and consumed on the streets.
In most countries in Latin America, it is very common to find stands of food by the sidewalks, or in markets, with lines of people getting ready to place their orders. The types of food can range from finger foods for a quick snack, to more elaborate dishes that resemble a home cooked meal.
From empanadas, to tacos, stews and sandwiches, you can usually find something that will call your attention. Street foods follow local cuisine traditions, making them very unique to the country, even city, you are in.
Street foods are not only an attraction, they are a means of income for the families running their small business and, due to its low cost, they serve as a secure source of food for low- and middle- income consumers.
We are excited to be able to share a couple of traditional street food recipes with you. First up we travel to Mexico, to try their Elote. That is right, when you think of Mexico and street foods, your mind immediately goes to tacos, but Elotes are very popular, too, and make for a great snack. The corn can be cooked on the grill or boiled, and it is traditionally slathered with a mix of Mexican crema, cheese and cilantro.
There are a variety of ways to serve the Elote: whole with the stalk untouched to serve as a handle and the sauce spread all over the corn, or shaved, where the loose corn kernels are mixed with the sauce and served in a bowl. Either way, your taste buds will dance with happiness as the sweetness of the corn and the saltiness and tartness of the sauce intermix in your mouth! Here is our version of this delicious treat! Leave us a comment to let us know that you have tried it!
Street Food - Grilled Elote
To make this recipe you’ll need:
- 4 ears of corn in the husk
- ⅓ cup crumbled Cotija or Feta cheese * + extra for garnish
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup créme fraîche*
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped + extra for garnish
- ½ teaspoon Tajín**
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat your grill to 450℉. Once it is hot, place the corn, in their husks, on the grill and cover, cooking for 10 – 15 minutes.
In the meantime, combine all the remaining ingredients into a bowl. Once the corn has cooked, peel the husk away, leaving the end at the bottom of the corn. This will serve as a handle for eating the corn. Using a pastry brush, brush the corn with the sauce that you have prepared. Sprinkle with extra cheese and cilantro.
*If you don’t have créme fraîche at home, substitute for Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
**Tajín is a Mexican spice mix that you can find in most supermarkets and in Latin Grocery Stores.
- If you don’t have a grill or prefer to cook the corn another way, you can peel it and boil it for 10 to 15 minutes, until the kernels become soft and the corn turns a bright yellow.
- Add cayenne pepper or chili powder to add some heat!