I’m sitting on a plastic chair on Regina street in the central historic district of Mexico City, eyeing a handwritten menu with the food of the day scribbled out — as I’ve done hundreds of times before. El Centro is the heartbeat of the biggest city in North America and is flush with a seemingly unlimited number of options for stuffing your face with delicious Mexican (and foreign) cuisine.
But despite the choices, I find myself returning, again and again, to eat at the same humble establishments that prepare a cheap, home-cooked meal in a style known as comida corrida.
Comida corrida, a Mexico City tradition, is food made by the people for the people, and over the past seven years as an expat in the capital, this comfort food of sorts has become my favorite meal.
Translated roughly as “food on the run,” it was born in the late 19th century, in the days of President Porfirio Díaz, during the city’s urban expansion. With the rise of factories in Mexico City, workers from places on the outskirts of the city — places like Mixcoac, Tacuba and Narvarte — found themselves too far from home to go there for lunch and needed something hearty, cheap and quick to eat during their lunch break. Local women began selling them homemade meals out of inns (fondas), their homes or anywhere they could set up a small restaurant.