Spanish with eggs

We are in the north of Mexico. Monterrey sits at the foot of the dusky Sierra Madre mountains (one of five, known as the ‘Mother Range’); On the other side lies Texas. This industrial Mexican city is home to big business, loved by shoppers and famed for its numerous (meat) restaurants as well as owning some world-class museums.

After an early flight, we were starving, so swiftly dropped off our bags at the hotel, and took a cab downtown to grab some breakfast. I love Mexico’s imaginative approach to the first meal of the day; in particular their various combinations of eggs. A good Desayuno menu usually begins with the promise: Huevos al gusto; eggs any style.

We were to be sorely disappointed by our first morning in Monterrey. We had been told to visit the Paseo Santa Lucia - an artificial river and walkway completed in time for the Universal Forum of Cultures, which Monterrey hosted in 2007 - but a mile down the riverwalk, nothing was open and we had to retrace our steps. The sun continued to beat down on our bare heads and no respite was forthcoming. Even Monterrey’s famous horse and carriages were conspicuously absent, just when they were most needed.

It was only after walking around for over an hour, both dripping with sweat, and with tempers fraying, that Jaime recalled that Regios (Citizens of Monterrey) don’t dine out for breakfast; preferring to eat this all important meal at home with their families. By this point, we had entered one of the city’s main shopping districts where fast food is the order of the day, and any other restaurants are scarce – even the closed ones. I was cursing under my breath, having suspected all along that Monterrey was just one big shopping mall.

This morning we were determined to dine in style.  Mexicans' legendary inventiveness with eggs also provides a useful lesson in Spanish:

Huevos Benedictine Eggs Benedict will be familiar to most of you as poached eggs and ham on a muffin, smothered in Hollandaise sauce. The Mexican twist is to serve them in a fried tortilla nest with chorizo and black beans.

Huevos Revueltos may be plain old scrambled eggs, but Huevos a la Mexicana takes eggs to new heights, scrambling them with diced tomato, onions and green chilli peppers.

Huevos Rancheros (ranch style) are fried eggs served with a spicy tomato sauce, often accompanied with corn tortillas and refried beans.

Huevos Ahogados, or drowned eggs, is less alarming than it sounds. The eggs are broken into a thin salsa and cooked in the sauce.

But my favourite must be Huevos Divorciados (divorced style):  2 fried eggs sitting atop a tortilla, separated by a wall of refried beans; one is served with red chilli sauce the other with green.

A vegetarian has to remain vigilant, though, even when ordering eggs; on one of my first visits to Mexico I saw a man tucking into what looked like scrambled eggs with some interesting additions. I asked the waiter what the dish was called. Sesos rebozados sounded innocuous enough, so I requested the same. Luckily, I was saved by a fellow diner who had heard me mention that I was vegetarian. Sesos rebozados are cow’s brains, dipped in beaten egg and fried.

Oh, and I must be careful how I use the word and when. Huevos is also slang for men’s testicles!