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The Esquites Man
Although ears of corn slathered with mayo, cheese, and lime are as ubiquitous these days as bagels at a Sunday brunch, you still have to amble over to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for a good Styrofoam cupful of esquites. Literally translated, esquites means “toasted corn,” but more commonly refers to the irresistible Mexico City street snack of corn kernels sauteed in butter and lard or vegetable oil and flavored with fresh epazote, the pungent herb whose name roughly translated means “dirty skunk.” Nearly every other taco cart along Fifth Avenue from 45th to 55th Street does a sideline business in esquites, but our favorite is the version served with a flourish by Luis Garcia, who operates from a cart near 53rd Street: A quick scoop or two of esquites from a five-gallon Igloo thermos, a wooden spoonful of Hellmann’s scraped off onto the side of your cup like a cocktail twist, a sprinkling of sharp cotija cheese, a dusting of cayenne, a squirt of fresh lime juice, and, for $2, you’re on your way.
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