Her stand is smack dab between the lady selling “gorditas de nata” (small sweet puffy pancakes) and the guy who hawks all the pirated European house music cds. My elote (corn) lady sets up at Parque Revolución everyday at 5:30pm and doesn’t leave until 11:00 or until the rains chase her away. Her daughter is always there with her. Sometimes they bicker at each other like hens, but usually the two work side by side amicably. In between the blank stares of my 5:00pm class, and the oft-times painful laughter of the 7:15er, I have ten minutes to eat, relax, and enjoy the scene. The daughter roasts while Mom handles the big, steamy vat of lightly boiled corn, and fills customers cups or small styrofoam dishes with roasted or boiled corn.
I wish you could see how beautiful she is, but she preferred to not appear in any photos, but I offer a humble glimpse of her set up:
And Marco here, who opted for his corn fresh off the cob:
So the thing is, elote is one of the most common Mexican street foods you’ll find. Corn is abundant, cheap, and deeply satisfying; not to mention the perfect vehicle for a variety of toppings. If one opts for all the toppings, you’re then subject to 6 harmonious garnishes. The first three: salt, lime, and chile, are deliciously harmless . It’s the final three toppings: mayonnaise, thick Mexican cream, and crumbled cheese, that pose a pernicious threat to one’s cholesterol.
Here’s what the prepared elote looks like in its natural state:
It’s no secret that this combo is delicious. And back in the day, I admit that I would indulge in the triple threat of corn cup ecstasy back in Chicago. The creaminess was undeniable! But ultimately, not a snack you can have very often, especially since it’s not vegan-friendly in the least. Here in Guadalajara however, I take my elote with just the slightest pinches of salt, a few drops of chile, and lime, but I always, always wish I had something a little extra to dance on my tongue. So, the other day I whipped up a still very Mexican, but way more nutritious and creamy topping for roasted corn. I hope it gets you dancing too!
Grilled Elote with Avocado Cilantro Sauce
2 Ears of Fresh Corn
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
1-2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons of Finely Chopped Cilantro
1 ½ Teaspoons Chia Seed
½ Cup Coconut Milk
½ Ripe Avocado
½ Teaspoon Salt
Dash of Cayenne
This recipe is for one big serving (perfect for lunch alongside some fruit or a salad) or two smaller snack sized servings. Any of these ingredients can be omitted without endangering the final product. Have fun with the recipe and find the best balance of flavors for you! Also, notice that in the elote from the park, I was left with almost 1/4 Cup of remaining liquid at the bottom of the cup. To tackle this watery issue, this recipe calls for chia to pull all the wonderful liquid together and ensure that not a single drop of creamy coconut milk gets left behind!
Mince your garlic and set aside for 10 minutes to let it release its happy juices. Soak in lime juice to mellow sharp garlic flavor. Shuck ears of corn and sprinkle with lime juice. Roast corn on stovetop on medium heat, rotating gently until all sides are evenly roasted and blackened. Enjoy this process: the soft cacophony of crackling kernels is extremely therapeutic. Take corn off of heat and set aside to cool.
Prepare sauce by combining all remaining ingredients (avocado, coconut milk, cilantro, chia, garlic, salt, cayenne and lime) in a small bowl. Once corn has cooled enough to handle, cut off the top of the ear and invert it in another bowl, carefully cutting away all the delicious roasted kernels.
Assemble elote cup trifle style; alternating layers of corn and coconut sauce. Eat with a spoon and enjoy one of the best tastes of Mexico.