Not too long ago I was in Roma Norte/Condesa area of Mexico City.
I was visiting a friend named Blayde who happens to live near La Viga actually but we met up in Condesa area for a drink at some bar.
It's actually been over a year and a half since I last lived in this area.
The exact time I'm not sure but it has been a bit of time.
At any rate, I decided to show up a tiny bit early to get a quick bite to eat at some street food spot before going to the bar.
The place I went to get a bite to eat at was some torta place in Roma Norte that I used to buy tortas from when I last lived here.
I specifically lived on Durango street and the street that the torta food spot is located on is just a few streets away closer towards Metro Insurgentes and basically outside some 7-11 I used to visit often.
Along this street are other street food spots also.
Others serving tortas, some tacos and so on.
Anyway, I'm standing up eating my torta with a soda in hand.
Making small talk with the torta vendor who is making small talk with me about "where you from?"
And there was one other Mexican dude standing at this specific torta spot with me eating his torta and keeping quiet to himself without saying anything.
Anyway, the day went on while I enjoyed my meal.
And then, out of nowhere, appeared some random Mexican woman with like 10 or however many other gringos.
Some short, medium brown skinned Mexican chick who arrives to the edge of the street with her group of gringo looking people.
Speaking in English.
And she began explaining away whatever about Roma Norte and this street.
One comment of hers though I found funny in the moment.
It was that of "this is where Mexicans eat their tacos."
Literally those exact words from her mouth in English.
Meanwhile, I am standing there with my torta as a non-Mexican.
The Mexican dude standing next to me has his torta.
In the food stand just one bit over, it looked like they were selling chicken but no tacos if I had to guess.
Perhaps down the street is where you'd find the taco eating Mexicans.
Well, I'm sure you could find somebody on this street eating a taco and who happened to be a Mexican.
But none of them standing next to me nor in front of her and her group.
Still, she put her hands up in the air and proclaimed that "THIS is where THE Mexicans eat their TACOS!"
The group nodded along, it seemed.
Staring down the street with wide eyes.
Others who seemed bored in their group and seemingly in need of coffee.
And I stood there -- as the non-Mexican -- eating my torta with another Mexican by my side eating his torta.
No tacos among us two folks.
She carried on.
Walking the group down the street to show them whatever else there is to see in Roma Norte.
I didn't think much of it initially outside of literally "I'm not Mexican" and "we aren't eating tacos actually."
But it was the Mexican guy next to me eating his torta too that, despite being quiet most of the time, let out a comment to the torta making dude that I was making small talk with.
Some comment he let out jokingly asking "how much did they pay to be told that?"
The torta guy went along with it and continued on saying something about how "we've been getting a lot more gringos for a while now" in Spanish.
Obviously, with me being the foreigner in the small group of ours, I was brought into the discussion but it wasn't much of a discussion.
Small chit chat from there.
Aren't we all just zoo animals?
"Here is where the Mexicans eat their tacos"
To be honest, I had never seen that happen before in Roma Norte or any part of CDMX.
Some tourism group being brought around to show other foreigners where "the locals" eat their food.
I have heard some Mexicans complain of this happening but never saw it until that day.
Complaining they do anyway as, in the words of some, it "makes them feel like part of a zoo."
You know -- here's the little Mexicans eating their tacos. Take your pictures!
And, to be fair, there is some inequality there.
Your average Mexican doesn't have as much money as your average American to go to the other country, take that tour and be shown where "the locals" eat to take a pic of.
Though, to be fair, I don't think it's the worst thing in the world.
A bit comical perhaps.
After all, I'm sure it happens in other important cities around the world beyond Mexico.
Just might be the inferiority complex speaking from the Mexican who complains about it.
I doubt these gringos in that tour saw us (them minus me or with me?) as zoo animals.
Probably just wanted a tour of Roma Norte and that's it.
Find out where to get a good bite of "authentic" Mexican food that so many foreigners want with their limited time in the city.
And, like I said, it happens in other touristy areas around the world.
That emphasis on some city tour to find out where "the authentic" food is.
Where do "the locals" eat their "authentic" food that we tourists spend thousands of dollars in flights and hotels to visit?
Which, in of itself, is funny to imagine.
I wouldn't travel to Mexico City just to get this "authentic" tour or whatever the hell that was.
The tortas we were having were OK.
Not thousands of dollars worth spending money on to travel to see.
And, like I said, they were not even tacos!
At any rate, I don't see any harm.
It happens in most touristy areas and people do want to see what is "authentic."
Though, on that note, sometimes what you see in places like Roma Norte is deemed "not authentic" enough because it is too touristy and/or too materially comfortable.
Some folks I have seen try to offer these tours to "non touristy areas" in whatever part of the city to get that "authentic" taste in Tepito or wherever.
Personally, I think that's dumb.
Why isn't Roma Norte not authentic?
They even say "oh, it's not REAL Mexico" like I wrote here.
How is it not REAL Mexico if it's in Mexico City?
I honestly think their simple minds do nothing more than equate poor with authenticity.
Which is retarded.
And that's coming from someone who has spent a good bit of time outside of those nicer areas like Roma Norte.
Anyway, it is what it is.
It's nothing more than a simple detail to life abroad where you might notice these folks -- perhaps in a zoo like way as some would say -- treat tourism like the above.
"This is where the Mexicans eat their tacos."
And, for those who live here long term, being caught in such a scenario while eating your non-tacos can feel a tiny bit weird.
"Why yes, this is me -- the Mexican -- eating my non-taco. Let me pose eating for the camera for you!"
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Thanks for reading.
Brilliant. Next time I eat a torta, I’m going to imagine a group of tourists watching me looking for authenticity. Cheers!