Mexico FAQs: Food and water

articles Immigration & Health Living, Working, Retiring
What about the water and food? Can I expect to have Moctezuma’s Revenge?
Qué me pueden decir acerca del agua y la comida en general en México? Puedo enfermarme?
Can I drink the water?
Puedo tomar agua?
Can I eat the food?
Puedo comer sin preocupación?
Is it true that shellfish and hot weather don’t mix?
Es cierto que debo evitar mariscos durante tiempos calurosos?

What about the water and food? Can I expect to have Moctezuma’s Revenge?

Did you know that Mexican nationals get sick on our water?

Bottled water is readily available throughout the country, and by law, ice must be purified. We recommend you brush your teeth in bottled water, and forget singing in the shower.

Taco stands located on most streets in Mexico may not be safe because it is difficult to know how long the food may have been sitting out or how fresh it may be. It smells wonderful, though.

If you request your meals be served hot, and avoid fresh salads (that may not have been washed in bottled water) you probably won’t experience any unnecessary problems. Many tourists get sick because they drink too much tequila.

Mexico has a wonderful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you are going to be in the country for any length of time, you will want to shop at the mercados and peel the fruits or boil vegetables.

Can I drink the water ?

The general rule is to be careful. In major hotels and restaurants, potable (drinkable) water is provided. Usually your room will have a carafe of good water. By law, all ice cubes must be made with good water.

To be safe, buy some bottled water and carry it with you.

If you like to sing in the shower, don’t. Learn to hum or sing with your mouth shut. Do not brush your teeth with tap water.

To prepare for situations where you don’t have good water available, boiling it for 40 minutes is the rule. Also the iodine drops are a good purchase. 8 drops in a gallon of water 30 minutes before drinking is a good preventative.

Basically, the flora and fauna in your stomach are not used to the water (and food) here. It will take a while to aclimatize. (about 6 months). If you stay here for 3 or more months, you will find you will go through a period of adjustment when you go home! Mexicans who travel suffer from the same maladies as you do when you come here.

See your Doctor or pharmacist before you come and get something to counteract the tummy troubles you might run into.

Can I eat the food?

On of the joys of Mexico is the food. So eating “Mexican” is part of visiting or living here.

Some basic rules of eating out:

  • The ingredients and methods of cooking are different. Your stomach will let you know! Your bowl movements will change rhythm and consistency. Don’t worry. This is part of adjusting.
  • Restaurants:
    • In first class restaurants, you are usually safe to eat whatever you want.
    • In less than first class, if it is freshly cooked, ok. Unless you know the restaurant, avoid uncooked vegetables (ie. salads).
    • Choose restaurants that seem to be favored or used by the locals.
  • Street Vendors:
    • If you want the true Mexican experience, the street Vendors or Kiosks are the way to go, HOWEVER, be careful.
    • Is it clean?
    • Eat only food prepared before your eyes. If the griddle isn’t on, don’t eat there.
    • Do the locals seem to prefer one over the other? If so, there is a reason.
    • This eating experience is more risky than a safe 5 star hotel, but if you have a good constitution and enjoy food, go for it!
  • Fresh meat, vegetables and fruit:
    • Meat:
      • Most meat in the US and Canada has color added to give that nice red look. In Mexico this is not a common practice. Dead flesh turns grayish, so don’t be put off it unless that gray has a greenish or bluish tinge, or smells “off”.
      • Cook fresh meat the day you buy it.
      • Mexicans have a much more liberal “palette” compared to the sanitized tastes of her northern neighbors. You will find many more animal parts for sale, and many different types of cuts. They also eat a wider range of animals than we do. Experiment, but do so with guidance.
    • Vegetables and Fruit:
      • Always wash, then soak in water containing 8 drops of iodine solution or 1 capful of bleach, for 30 minutes.
      • If you peel it before eating, you are safe.
      • If you cook it before eating you are safe.
      • If you want to eat it fresh, choose only unblemished items, and ALWAYS go through the wash/soak process.

Is it true that shellfish and hot weather don’t mix?

Don’t do it! Shellfish tend to spoil quickly. This is especially true when the weather is hot. Even though you love your oysters, the possible results are not worth it.

Published or Updated on: November 28, 2008
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