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A Torta Ahogada is a Mexican sandwich made in crispy bread, filled with pork and drowned in tomato and chili sauce which is especially well-known in the city of Guadalajara. It is most commonly sold by street food vendors but can also be ordered in some sit-down restaurants. Variations in the fillings and the spiciness of the sauce are found from vendor to vendor.
Guadalajara is situated in the Western Mexican province of Jalisco and is the second most populous city in the country. The cuisine of Mexico has strong Spanish influences due to its history with Spain. Mexico is well-known for its spicy dishes with lots of use of chili and the Torta Ahogada is no exception.
Traditionally the bread used to make Torta Ahogada is a birote which is a large sourdough roll specific to Guadalajara which has a very crispy crust. This thick crust allows the Torta Ahogada to be drowned in the sauce without falling into pieces. The roll is sliced in half and filled with shredded pork, either roasted or fried. Some cooks add various other fillings such as beans, cheese, onions or avocado.
The element that separates the Torta Ahogada from its other sandwich counterparts is the next, essential step in the recipe. The entire roll is then drenched in a tomato and chili sauce made from Chiles de Arbol, which are extremely hot chili peppers. The recipe for the sauce differs from chef to chef but generally includes plenty of chili, garlic, tomato, vinegar and spices.
When ordering a Torta Ahogada from either a restaurant or street vendor, one can order it either half-drowned or fully-drowned, with various accompaniments. Half-drowned refers to one that has just been dipped in the sauce and fully-drowned it comes sitting in the sauce. Regardless of which one is ordered, it tends to be a tasty and messy affair. Visitors to Guadalajara are encouraged to try this delicious dish, almost as a rite of passage. A milder version is made by some chefs, which is drowned in a less spicy tomato sauce.
Another traditional dish for which Guadalajara is well-known is Birria, a spicy stew usually made of lamb or goat, or a combination of both. It is made with chili and various other spices and usually slow cooked and served with tortillas. Chopped onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime is usually put over the stew before serving.