Magazine article Sunset

Fresh from Morelia

Magazine article Sunset

Fresh from Morelia

Article excerpt

A trip to a Mexican fruit gazpacho stand, plus the recipe that's made it famous

A busy street corner in Mexico might not seem the likeliest place for fast food that's both nutritious and tasty, but in the colonial city of Morelia, in Michoacan, one vendor has proved that what's rapido can also be saludable y sabroso.

"We're called the Fruit City," says Marco Ruiz, a Morelia street vendor who works at the colorful streetside eatery owned by his uncle, Efrain Tinoco. "We have food traditions here that you can't find in other parts of Michoacan." Ruiz, a 19-year-old university student, is part of Tinoco's extended family, which for 23 years has earned its reputation as the premier fruit gazpacho vendor in the city.

Tinoco's pristine stand sits at the downtown intersection of four streets: Calle Andres, Quintana Roo, Madero Poniente, and Avenida Francisco I. From early morning to early evening, every day of the week, giggling schoolkids, impatient taxi drivers, and cell phone-toting business types line up to taste the Tinoco handiwork.

"People like my uncle's gazpacho because the pieces are cut very small, and because he goes to the mercado each morning to buy only perfect fruits," says Ruiz. "And we're always happy to make complicated mixtures, depending on what the customer wants."

What people find when they line up at the stand are workers in elbow-length sanitary gloves, wiping their razor-sharp knives and spotless cutting boards with purified water, and flailing away at fruits so fresh that the entire corner smells like a field of ripe strawberries. There's a Zen-like quality to the never-ending thwack, thwack, thwack of knives against the boards.

Efrain Tinoco's basic fruit gazpacho consists of finely chopped pineapple, mango, and jicama, fresh-squeezed lime and orange juice, a splash of hot sauce, and spoonfuls of crumbled white queso anejo (also called anejado or cotija) sprinkled on top. …

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