Words and Photography by: Helena Michalak
Well, it’s already happened, but Mission’s Mexican Festival at Federation Square on Sunday 15 September was absolutely pumping. This annual festival is in its second year, celebrating the Mexican Independence Day, when Mexico said bye bye to Spanish rule in 1810. The sun was out and was actually warm and I only had to wear a jumper rather than three layers. Bliss!
I thought I’d arrive after the lunch rush but discovered there was no such thing! It was a great day to be outside and thousands of others clearly felt the same way. We found ourselves shoulder to shoulder with people dancing to the tunes of Mariachi Los Romanticos at the Fed Square stage. Everyone was in a great mood, girls from Taco Bill were handing out sombreros and there were Frida Kahlo bags, Mexican shirts and spontaneous bursts of singing on the streets.
We picked up some free corn chips (thanks Mission!) and did a scout around of the area. All of the action for us was along the Yarra… Food stalls! With choices between (deep breath) Chingon Taqueria y Cantina, Chido Taco truck, Blue Corn, Santa Ana Tapas Bar, Mamasita, Taco Bill Mexican Restaurant, Touché Hombre, Los Amates, Mexico City, Mad Mex, The Black Toro, South American Barbecue, Lulo, Salsa’s, Dos Por Favor and Guzman y Gomez, how were we to decide?
Hmm… We needed a pit stop at the bar! After about a 10-15 minute wait head-bopping to the DJ pumping Mexican music, we sampled a margarita (tequila, Cointreau, lime and salt) and a Paloma (Spanish word for dove), which is tequila with grapefruit soda and mightily refreshing. Mamasita eventually won out since we’d had food from most of the places, but my friend hadn’t tried Mamasita and she was pretty keen. We were waiting in line for a good 40 minutes but it did not disappoint!
We ordered one of everything except the corn and I got my favourite Horchata (rice, vanilla and cinnamon milkshake). Now excuse me while I type out the menu and do some gushing… We ate the ‘Kids Only’ Sincronizadas – a Mexican ham and cheese toastie on flat bread, Quesadilla de Huitlacoche (corn smut, a fungus that grows on corn. We thought it was mushrooms, so I’ve forgiven myself for not knowing), Taco de Pescado (grilled fish) and Taco de Lengua (braised ox). All were delicious but I have a soft spot for fish tacos, so Taco de Pescado got my vote!
All in all it was an enjoyable afternoon out. There were a few too many people at times and it was literally hard to move between stalls, but the security was excellent. Two girls tried to push in front of us near the bar, but the security man near us was having none of it. We left as the sun started to disappear and vowed to go home and adopt the three Mexican words we’d learnt… Comer, beber and bailar! (That’s eat, drink and dance.)