The mayonnaise is yellowing in the afternoon heat. The open tub sits atop the food cart, with no ice in sight. I do the math — it’s 3:30 PM, and the elote cart has probably been open for business since noon, which means that the mayo has been exposed to the open air for three or four hours, maybe longer.
“Quires mayonesa?” the girl asks, holding up my corn on-a-stick.
I hesitate. An elote is a boiled ear of corn, crammed onto a stick, and slathered with condiments. My favorite combo is the fixings: lime juice and mayo, dusted with cheese and chile powder. After 30 years of eating elotes, somehow this is the first time I’ve noticed that the mayonnaise sits unrefrigerated, no doubt fostering a colony of bacteria the size of Mazatlan. I scrutinize the elote girl. She looks plump, healthy, and reasonably guileless. The other part of my brain, the irrational, dominant part, starts whispering about the delights of mayonnaise. Besides, it says, you have a stomach of steel and a reputation to protect. Has all that time stateside made you soft?
Read more at PoorTaste.com. Special thanks to Wick Sakit for the photos, which perfectly capture the street food experience.