Spicing up Hamburg life with a few drops of habanero

When Alejandra Torres invited me to her place for dinner she brought several bottles with oils to the table. “Ale”, originally from Guadalajara, the second biggest city in Mexico, moved to Hamburg 5 years ago. She told me to put only a few drops of the habanero oil on my food – if I dared. “It’s very spicy,” she warned me. “I like spicy,” I replied. I spent the whole dinner using tissue after tissue to dry my tears and my runny nose. Ale was right. “I told you … you gotta be Mexican to handle that spiciness”.

Text: Sabela García Cuesta  / Photography: Fernando Picazo 

Let’s talk about something we all love talking about: food. In Guadalajara, what do you eat after a wild night with lots of tequila drinking?

We have several dishes that are very well-known. Have you ever heard about “torta ahogada”? It’s basically a bread with pork meat that you soak into a very hot sauce. The best hangover remedy!

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Photo credits http://www.noshfolio.com

And do you still cook Mexican food after 5 years of living in Hamburg?

Absolutely. It is hard to find some of the ingredients but I have my tricks. I get tortillas, the basis of Mexican food, in restaurants. Some specific beans, corn and other stuff I can purchase at local Turkish shops. You can find also very spicy chiles, for example, the one you use for guacamole or Mexican sauces at Asian shops!

Is there any Mexican restaurant that makes you feel at home?

Yeah. Mexico Straße, for example, is really good. It’s like getting real Mexican street food but in a restaurant. The tacos are delicious. The place is loud and colorful and you hear Latin music in the background. There is another one called Comida, in downtown Hamburg. They not only have tacos but you can for instance also get a full meal with rice and steak.

How is your life in Hamburg? Do you feel somehow a bit German?

I’ve learned to appreciate the quality of life here. I am really thankful to have the opportunity to have the lifestyle I have here. What I felt is somehow I turned a bit “German” in some senses. I have a full agenda and always book my appointments in advance. I used to be more spontaneous!

Which words does a German person typically associate with Mexico? Tequila and tacos?

Actually, that would be great but most of the time what you get is “Sombrero and Siesta” (laughs)

Best Mexican film and best German film?

“Como agua para chocolate” and “Goodbye Lenin”.

How would you describe the Mexican lifestyle in comparison to the German one?

We are very spontaneous and festive. People love to party and enjoy the fact of being alive. They celebrate life. In Germany, what I like is that I feel secure and safe at all times. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Mexico. For me, it was really shocking to get used to living here, the mindset is totally the opposite. Food, times, language, the sense of family… all in all, Hamburg was a whole new world for me.

Favorite spot in Hamburg to meet friends?

I love the Alster. Any bar, restaurants or spot around there is great to meet people.

Visit the taquería Mexico Straße in Sankt Pauli. We had a fantastic time sharing guacamoles, eating tacos and sipping margaritas.