There is one sound and one sound alone that draws me back to the Mexico of my childhood.... the sound of an old fashioned tricycle horn; not the little bell that any aul bicycle has, but the ones that are like a small trumpet with a round plastic end, that when squeezed, produces the loud, sweet sound of Elotes calling you out into the street, the bewitching sound of that horn draws you out as much as the sound of the music from the ice-cream van did when you were little. If ever was doubt that Pavlov (with his salivating dog) was right, this should serve as irrefutable proof to his theory.
And then you hear the call from the man himself, from el senor de los elotes, who rides the tricycle throught the streets fitted specially with a huge basket with a precariously installed gas tank and a burner (health and safety need not apply)... elotes, compre sus elotes (corn, buy your corn) alternating his loud, simple sale pitch with a few rings from the horn in the tricycle.
Elotes are tender, young corn in the cob that have been boiled in water in big galvanized buckets and that are widely sold on Mexican streets. Traditionally, they are taken out of the hot water (you choose which one you want) and they are prepared by the man himself with your choice of toppings. In Monterrey, my hometown, we do lime, mayonnaise and chili powder. Some street vendors offer a liquid version of the chili powder, which is made with real red chili powder and lime juice, usually extremelly hot. Some offer crema fresca (fresh cream) and even dry cheese.
El senor de los elotes is an important part of every housing estate. You gotta trust yours, he (women have more sense than to do this work) has to be clean (as clean as a man riding a tricycle in the scorching heat, with a gas tank and a massive bucket of boiling water with 200 elotes in it can be). His toppings need to be in clean, plastic containers with lids and invariably, if you get one elote from him and you don't get sick, he's trust worthy. You establish a relationship with him and him alone and, in time, the horn will ring, you'll come out and he'll say 'same as usual miss?'
Fill a heavy pot three-quarters full with water. Add the corn making sure the water well covers them and bring them to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook them covered for 20 minutes.
When the corn is cooked, take one using kitchen togs and insert a corn in the cob holder or a wooden stick. Brush it with plenty of mayonnaise and followed by a generous sprinkle of chili and lime powder. If you are opting to add some lemon or lime juice, a few squeezes are added at the end.