Can Foreigners Handle the Heat? Mexico City Debates Milder Salsas.

Gerardo Medina runs the Taquería Los Amigos, a 24-hour stand that sits at a busy intersection in an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City.

With more customers from abroad eating his tacos, he began noticing similar reactions to his pico de gallo: red faces, sweat, complaints about the spiciness.

So Mr. Medina, 30, got rid of the serrano peppers, leaving just tomatoes, onions and cilantro. While he still offers an avocado salsa with serrano and a red salsa with morita chiles and chiles de árbol, he wanted to provide a non-spicy option for international visitors unaccustomed to intense heat.

“It attracts more people,” he said.

Chiles are fundamental to Mexican cuisine and, in turn, to the country’s identity. Mexicans put them, often in the form of salsas, on everything: tacos, seafood, chips, fruit, beer and, yes, even sorbet.

“Food that isn’t spicy practically isn’t good food for the majority of Mexicans,” Isaac Palacios, 37, who lives in Mexico City, said after consuming tacos smothered in salsa.

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