I've begun work on my book about Tapatio food culture. There's so much to say and so many things to taste that I hardly know where to begin. The question I get asked most often about my travels in Mexico is: How many times did you get sick? The answer to that question is: once. and it wasn’t unwashed lettuce, poorly preserved meat, or ice cubes made from tainted water. No, it was something much more powerful than all of those things combined - my three year old son. He gets diseases that make your average CNN in Africa Special Edition: Looking at Sick People, segment of the nightly news seem tame by comparison. I am a highly adventurous eater and have consumed food from a wide variety of sources and so many of them are wonderful - don’t let yourself be scared out of eating in Mexico.
You should take some reasonable precautions, but these are the same precautions that Mexicans living in Mexico take - in other words, use your head. The people who live in Mexico do not drink water from the tap if they can help it. If you’re at all nervous, don’t even use it to brush your teeth. In Mexican homes, 5 liter bottles of water are delivered via local truck services and set into wire contraptions that allow for easy pouring. A 5 liter bottle of water costs around 11 pesos, approximately the equivalent of one US dollar.
I use tap water for washing dishes, even for washing out baby bottles, taking showers and any other non-drinking activities. I have brushed my teeth with local water but feel more comfortable using purified water. My husband brushes his teeth with water from the sink and he has never gotten sick. And although he is from Mexico, it has been ten years since he has lived here and so any advantage his body might have had from being accustomed to local bacteria is long gone. My now four year old son is nearly suicidal in his desire to drink water from sources I wouldn’t use to wash my cats paws in and he too has never gotten the famed Montezuma’s revenge. I think, maybe, Montezuma is finally at peace.