A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Having been living in the Netherlands for almost two years now, one of the things I miss the most from home is food, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Food is such an important aspect of our identity as it creates and sustains very strong ties to our heritage and traditions, independently of where we are from. As a Mexican, I think this is particularly true, as we truly love and value our rich, complex and delicious cuisine, which was even recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.
While the Netherlands offers tasty delicacies such as cheese and haring, and Leiden has loads of great restaurants, I’m sad to say that the city does not offer great options of Mexican food. The only really good Mexican restaurants I’ve tried in my time in this country are either in The Hague (KUA) or Amsterdam (Los Pilones), and unfortunately they are above my budget for me to go and enjoy some tacos with real corn tortillas as often as I would like.
So my solution has been to cook Mexican food from home. This can be a challenge, as so many of the ingredients needed are quite uncommon here. I have been fortunate enough that I’ve been able to go back to Mexico a couple of times to see my family, and every time I return, half of my suitcase is full of salsas, canned beans, spicy candy, mezcal and other goodies.
But, as my supplies tend to dwindle at a fast rate, this has proven not to be enough, so I have been exploring and finding places where I can get the ingredients I need, many times with the help of a wonderful Facebook group of fellow Mexicans living in the Netherlands.
Here are some recommendations of places in Leiden where to get authentic ingredients to cook delicious Mexican dishes:
For fresh produce, there is a somewhat new euro stall at the Saturday Market that sells very good quality avocados (8 for 1€!) and sometimes they also have poblano peppers, which are excellent to make chiles rellenos or rajas con crema.
For a wider and more specialized variety of Mexican ingredients such as corn flower (to make tortillas or tamales), different kind of mole sauces, zucchini flowers, cuitlacoche fungus, and many other delicacies there are two Mexican owned and run online shops which I recommend: Mexicaanse Winkel and Deli Mexico.
I hope this post has made you crave some good Mexican food and inspired you to get some ingredients and cook it yourselves. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, share your results, and buen provecho!