Mexican food is probably my favorite of all world cuisines. I’m a fan of French and Thai chow and, of course, a good American steak, but Mexican food offers such incredible variety, and it’s so abundant in the Chicago area, that I find myself longing for it in a way that I never long for any other cuisine. The fresh tortillas, the beans, the grilled meat with avocado, are all elementally satisfying, as are the deep moles, tangy ceviche, and so many other regional dishes. Mexican is the one cuisine I keep going back to with renewed enthusiasm and appetite.

So as I consider possible evacuation zones, Mexico is high on our list.

Some ask, but isn’t it dangerous?  Sure, Mexico can be deadly, particularly along the border with the United States, but many parts are much safer. We’re considering a move to Merida, Yucatan, which on many metrics is much, much safer than, for instance, Chicago. It’s also a magical place where the Mayan heritage is all around you, in the food as well as the ancient buildings. For years, I’ve had next to my desk a picture of me, shot in the late 70s, walking toward the House of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltún, an archaeological zone outside Merida. As I look at it now, the picture seems to be about my future as much as my past.

One advantage of leaving our home in the U.S. in the next year or so is that we can take the time to go through mountains of stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. We can then send out items to people who can use what we might otherwise throw away. Over the past decade or so, I’ve helped clean out the homes of several deceased relatives, and there comes a point in the process when mountains of stuff just go into the dumpster with little more than a glance. There’s some value beyond monetary in what we have, and I want the remnants of my American life to go to people who value it. For instance, some old coral my crazy Floridian aunt and uncle fished out of the Gulf a half-century ago just went to our friend Marilyn Dawson, who will probably do something artistic with it; old Egyptology texts from my college teaching days are on their way to a young Islamic scholar who once toured me around Cairo, and stacks of old magazines are headed to Cook County Jail. For other items, we’re using the Facebook page entitled River Forest and Oak Park Virtual Garage Sale. If you’ve never been to this page, it’s a tremendous resource. You just post a photo of the item and buyers come by to pick it up. Very easy.

So, the current plan is that we’ll be leaving at some point in the next 12-18 months. We’re not entirely sure when we’ll be back to the USA (though probably not until at least 2020, if there’s even a country to come back to by then). I figure if I’m going to relocate to another part of the world, I might as well choose a place that serves the kind of food I may be eating for the rest of my life.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...