Eastside 101: Elotes

Okay kids, lets lower those voices, class is about to begin. Ahem. Thank you all for showing up to yet another lesson in the Eastside 101 lecture series, an online extension program of the UGTWHTUPAY4 university. For those of you that have been taking notes, this series was started some time ago over at blogging.la as a way to shine some light on the life of those on the Eastside, that seemingly invisible place just on the other side of the river. Though the original mission of this series seems to have served its purpose (namely, defending the definition of the term Eastside) I still have a few insights and tips to share with all of you that might be interested. I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t unintentionally give away some secrets!

Oh yeah, the subject this time is Elotes!

It’s either bells or horns. When you feel just a bit peckish, you somehow focus on the sounds of an ambulante going by, in this case it was the constant squeezing of a bike horn, which now that I think about it, I haven’t seen on a bike in a long time. I prefer it when they yell out their product (“Paletas, que ricas paletas!” “Tamales! Champurrado!”) but you eventually learn the walking patterns of your preferred vendor. This guy was new to me, but he conveniently showed up at the laundromat when I was needing a bite to eat.

“Que vende?”

“Raspados, Elotes, y Chicharron.” The chicharron was the wheat based fried food (no pork in it) but I went with the elote, the food of my people. And the food of cheapos as well. “Un elote, con todo.”

In the pic above, the elotero is pounding a holding stick into the corn, assuming you can see thru blue coolers like I can.

When I was in High School, we used to laugh at these corn concoctions, especially cuz of the mayonesa. Mayonnaise on a corn? That’s disgusting! But eventually, I tried one and it turned out I liked it, I guess my days of snide jokes against these corns were over. I’ll manage. After the holding stick, the next step is a solid layering of that mayonesa. Recoil in disgust. That other dude in the pic was telling the elotero “he’s gonna steal your secret recipe!” Jaja, that was pretty funny.

And then a solid bath of grated queso cotija, aka “queso de pata”. It certainly smells like feet, but that aged cheese is much more delectable than your friends feet. I’m just assuming.

I was talking a bit with the “he’s stealing your recipe” guy and I missed taking the picture of the Parkay margarine pouring, basically about three solid rows of margarine on top of that mayo-cheese layer. And here you can see the expert application of chile powder onto the elote, that last bit of spiciness is what ties the whole thing together. I assume he puts the corn down in that spot just to avoid any wind gusts, chile powder isn’t cheap.

How much did this power cob cost? A simple dollar.

Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh or retch, the idea of this street food is kinda atrocious. But once you bite into the sweet tender corn, slathered in all those oils and chile, the flavor combinations just prove that somebody thought this shit out. It’s not something you’d make at home, but this concoction of taste and sustenance is assuredly worth that lonely dollar you have in the pocket. I was gonna take a picture of the kernel-less cob but I forgot. Please forgive me.

This post is dedicated to Corny Joe, that lover of hot corn that practically begged me to do this review. I hope it’s to his liking. Good luck in Eureka vato.

Click here for a link to all the Eastside 101 posts.

14 thoughts on “Eastside 101: Elotes

  1. Ha ha that is too funny I used to be prejudice against this corn concoction as well until I tried it and liked it. It’s also good to see other people agreeing that that queso is (queso de pata) for sure! but yeah it’s good still

  2. I would love it if more vendors sold esquites, corn kernels simmered in a limey, buttery, chile sauce and served in a cup. They are completely addicting.
    Oh yeah, you have to eat those elotes outside cause they are so damn messy. The best way to eat them is to sit on your porch steps, hunched over, so the butter and lime juice won’t drip down your shirt. Then when you’re done, toss the corn cob over the fence to your neighbors yard. 😉

  3. um… its hard to type as i’m trying not to f up my keyboard with my drool!!!
    the elote man on my street used to have one of those clown horns but i think it was too much and he must have gotten some complaints since he now rolls with a bell.

    keep the lessons a coming EL CHAVO

  4. My heart just skipped a beat. I love esquites. Most vendors that sell corn will make it into an esquite if you ask them to. I love that you can get anything from elotes, raspados, chicharrones, tacos and of course churros.

  5. Yes, it’s perfect, El Chavo. Thanks.

    I once had a favorite corn-on-the-cob lady. She tried for a glamorous approach, but….well, she sold corn on the cob. That was a heavy chain wrapped around her neck. Her corn was good, though.

    Stop by if you’re ever up north. I’ll treat you to some white trash cooking.

  6. “the idea of this street food is kinda atrocious”? I have to disagree. I will eat street food anywhere anytime. In Papua New Guinea I once ate something in the outdoor market that I was sure was going to give me dysentery only because I knew I might never be able to try it again ever. It totally gave me dysentery.

    Strangely, I’ve found some street food to be safer in general than some of the food in restaurants when traveling. At least you can see it being made, and there is nothing safer to eat in the world then something grilled/fried to death. In East Africa I chose Nyama Choma, literally grilled meat, about every day along with fried potatoes because there is very little one can do to mess that up.

    As far as elotes go, the only thing that might make me retch would be warm mayonnaise. How long has that been sitting out in the sun? I’ll take mine sin mayonesa, gracias.

  7. Salty,
    The “atrocious” is basically directed at that mayo you can do without, it certainly isn’t being kept cool in any way. Yet, I still get it con todo, I bet I’ll pay the price someday. Otherwise, street food is where it’s at!

  8. i love elote. almost anyway it comes. but there’s something about con todo that makes it all a little foul. last time i had one, it seriously made me ill. i like things a little simpler. a little butter, con chile y limon, maybe un poquito queso, and i’m in hog heaven.

  9. They totally got me into putting mayo onto my corn at home, but I re-Americanize it by using the softer American corn, a little mayo, Kraft “Parmesan” cheese food product, and Tapatio instead of whatever’s in that powder.


  11. the fool that sells that shit on my block always wakes me up at 10 pm with that horn he honks next time i am going to call the cops

  12. I am pregnant and all I want is ELOTES and I can’t find any street vendors were I live! I’ve circled schools and catholic churches!!! can’t we get one up in West LA! please =)

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