I am joined by a friend who lives in Mexico City, and we sit at a small comedor on a busy street corner. She orders for both of us in a stream of rapid-fire Spanish: Tortas Ahogadas, a Guadalajaran sandwich of succulent pork and fried onions enrobed in a salty, crusty Birote bread, the whole thing immersed in fiery tomato sauce; then Carne En Su Jugo, thinly sliced beef simmered with chile, tomatillo, and pork fat and served with delicate white beans in a jus spiced thickly with cumin. We drink citrusy tequila cut and freshly pressed orange juice out of clay mugs and watch the sky lose its color.
It is rainy season, and before long water is pouring through cracks in the awning above. Customers scurry indoors to safety, and in just a few minutes we are nearly alone on the sidewalk, save for a dripping street performer with a trumpet and a small amp strapped to his motorcycle. After a few more minutes, the rain stops and the sun comes out again. It is uncharacteristically dry for Mexico City this time of year, and in nearly a month in the country I will not see rain again.
We linger over steaming mugs: Café de Olla — black coffee brewed with cinnamon and raw cane sugar, and Carajillo — a Spanish cocktail made from espresso and a sweet, citrusy vanilla liqueur called Licor 43.