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Regional differences in Mexican food.


jhlurie
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Can someone with an appropriate background speak about the regional differences in Mexican food?

I know some, but I'd like to hear some expert info on this.

I know very little indeed, but hopefully once I get back from Playa I'll have a better idea. I'm staying with a friend who's living with a nice restaurant-owning Mexican boy, which I'm hoping will mean that I'll get a guided tour of real Mexican food. (Hopefully he won't be so used to cooking for tourists that he starts giving me the "you won't like that" treatment...)

At the very least, I want to learn how to make tamales well enough to duplicate them back in the UK!

Miss J

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i am NOT an expert

but I have traveled in Guerrero, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Jalisco states, as well as Mexico City.

as for regional differences, first of all, i have never eaten anything anywhere in mexico that resembled standard "american mexican" fare.  i eat differently in mexico, too, cooked food only, and i drink lots of bottled soda [and beer].

enchiladas are pretty common, but otherwise you don't see the same kinds of foods as you find on "mexican" restaurant menus.  i usually start with soup, often a very hot steamy brothy chicken-based vegetable soup, but in my favorite town of patzcuaro, in michoacan, the specialty is sopa de tarasco, a hearty tomato based thick soup flavored with ancho peppers and finished off with dollops of fresh mexican crema.  if i'm still hungry i order a piece of cooked meat or an omelette.  i never eat seafood but i will eat farmed trout.  as far as i am concerned the best thing about mexican cuisine--assuming that this is ubiquitous, and perhaps it is not--is the basket of hot steaming soft corn tortillas that accompanies EVERYTHING.  depending on where you are, the tortillas have probably been hand patted and cooked individually on a wide flat griddle that looks like a garbage can lid.  a fresh hot tortilla sprinkled with some course salt is one of the simplest and most divine foods in the world, and it has been sustaining millions of people for a long time.

mexican hot chocolate is also heavenly--flavored with cinnamon and served frothing.  it's not fair to compare it to, say, french hot chocolate, either, cause it's a different animal.  it rocks my world.

in guadalajara i found a bakery selling flax seed cookies.  my husband and i bought a dozen of them and then had to go back and buy more--and they were HUGE cookies.  I have no idea how to make them--they were sorta sugar cookie like, dense and crumbly and full of thousands of flax seeds, which added the moist delicious crunch.  i dream about those cookies.

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  • 3 months later...

Yea!!  After suffering through the "South of the Border" thread, I'm happy to find some folks talking about the FOOD!

I, also, am no expert on Mexican food.  And unless you're Dianne Kennedy or Rick Bayless, I claim no one who's posting here is an expert either.  

I've travelled there a few times and here's my take.  Mexico is a very complex country with many many regions and many influences (the tourist beach-cities don't count!).  The result is a rich tapestry of cultures and therefore food.  It's a hard country to generalize.

The two areas I'm most familar with are the South and the Yucatan.  The food in Yucatan is wonderful with a heavy emphasis on seafood, which is usually prepared modestly with fresh seasonings.  And of course, is always served with hot corn tortillas and limes.  Mexican food law: Limes make EVERYTHING better.  Taste whatever is in front of you and, even if it's muy delicioso, it'll be better once you squeeze that mexican lime on it.

Oaxaca in the south is by far my favorito.  Birthplace of mole, nectar of the Mayan gods.  Yes, there are many variations on mole (Puebla, near Mexico City is the other pillar of mole), but my soul melts after a taste of Oaxacan black mole.  Pour it on a leather shoe and I'll clean my plate.

True interior Mexican food still bewilders me with its complexity and I'm just scratching the surface.  I'd love to see what others' experiences have been.

Best.

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KK--

Very few posts here.

I share your passion.  I love the food and I love the culture equally--my husband and I travel in Central and South America every year.

My great sadness is the health risk involved.  My husband just found out he contracted malaria in the Amazon last year.  Not that it's a food-borne illness....but nonetheless.

The great thing about moles is that cooked meat dishes are almost always safe.  Similar to mole is the Guatamalan special stew bowl called pipian or pepian--pumpkin seeds and chocolate in this too, but the broth is thin while a mole tends to be more gravy-textured.  I still think the fresh tortilla is one of the most delightful foods on earth--hell, civilizations were built on it.

Hasta luego.

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Very few posts here.

Yes, few posts, but LOTS of "looks."  

I think everyone is interested, but no one deems themselves expert enough to comment.  I hesitate as well....but perhaps if I wade in with my humble observations, others will, too.

So again, although I'm no expert, I have noticed a few things.  Northern Mexico seems to take on a little flavor of the U.S. states that it borders.  Up around New Mexico, for example, it seems to me that the food is hotter than along the California, Arizona, or Texas borders.  Also, it seems to me that along the New Mexico border, the salsas are more powder-based, owing to the dried chilies you find up there.  In addition, I have noticed more beef dishes up north, perhaps reflecting more space in which to raise cattle.  I find that farther south, there's more chicken, goats (cabrito) and pigs....all of which require much less land to raise.

The coasts, obviously, feature lots of seafood: the wonderful Mexican shrimp cocktail (coctel de camarones) which are served in big goblets (copas) with the shrimp swimming in a flavorful tomato juice concoction and topped with avocado slices; and, of course, the delicious ceviches, which, once you get the hang of, are positively addictive. And lots of fish are served "Veracruzano" or "Tampiqueño" in the style of Veracruz or Tampico, on the Gulf coast.

There's lots of rice in interior Mexico...arroz con pollo, for example.  And, the Indian influence is felt in many areas...the famous lime soup of the Yucatan comes to mind.

Everywhere there is fruit...the Mexicans love it.  They squeeze limes on papaya, a custom I wish more North Americans would get the hang of.  It cuts the almost cloying sweetness of the papaya.  

In addition to fruit, breakfast often includes Chilaquiles...an absolutely wonderful tortilla casserole dish that Mexican housewives all over the country make, but which is not well-known elsewhere.  It's a staple in the Mexican family...my friend's "quick" recipe calls for canned salsa verde (Herdez, of course), white cheese and Fritos, and she makes it in the microwave.  They have four kids, and she makes Chilaquiles at least a couple of times a week.  She says "to make it from scratch so often would just be too much work."  

Mexicans like sweets, as do most humans, but one thing I really like about their sweet breads is that for the most part, they are not TOO sweet.  Just a nice amount to go with your morning cafe con leche.  Speaking of sweets, the Mexican caramel, Cajeta, is ubiquitous...it even comes in squeeze bottles.  That whole Mexican "dulce de leche" carmel flavor is devine.  You find it all over Mexico in things like their milk candy (similar to our pralines). The town of Morelia is famous for their candy. Saying "Morelia" to a Mexican is kind of like saying "Hershey PA" to a Norteamericano.

Mexicans are famous for their soups and stews (caldos, cocidos, sopas) and with reason.  The coasts have fabulous fish soups and stews, but there are great soups all over the country.  When I'm in Mexico, I eat as much soup as I can.  

They also eat a lot of locally-grown vegetables.  I must have fifty recipes for Mexican-style squash.

Mexicans love cheese. You see lots of it in and on various dishes. But you rarely (and I think it's more like never) see the bright yellow cheddar-type cheeses that cover "Mexican" dishes in the States. Mainly you see the white cheeses that Mexico is famous for: queso fresco, ranchero, asadero, etc. Anyone who wants to learn more about Mexican cooking should start by buying, sampling, and experimenting with some of these cheeses.

And, as someone already mentioned, the molés, which I have never gotten in a U.S. restaurant that tasted anything like the molés I've eaten in Mexico.

I hope other people are willing to wade in with their observations, even if they are incomplete or incorrect (as mine may be).  The cuisine of Mexico is a topic of endless fascination, not only for norteamericanos, but for people all over the world.  So....give it a go, folks.  If a real expert stumbles in, we'll all get lucky, but until then, we're all we've got!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The site Mexico Connect can have quite a bit of useful information.

Mex-Connect

Their food editor (Karen Hursh Graber) has a few articles describing particularities of some states cuisines along with recipes sometimes unique to the region:

Cuisines of Mexico articles

The site also has a sparsely populated message board that can turn up some help on occasion for specific question related to Mexican cuisine.

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

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They squeeze limes on papaya, a custom I wish more North Americans would get the hang of.  It cuts the almost cloying sweetness of the papaya.  

Jaymes, GREAT post.  It reminded me of a few things.  I haven't seen enough of the entire country to notice real regional differences--our travel has been in Jalisco, Michoacan, Taxco, DF, Guanajuato.  And my husband and I eat pretty conservatively.

But one of my favorite snacks is sliced tropical fruits, watermelon and papaya, sprinkled with CHILI.

The best breakfast is chilaquiles [i like green] with extra tortillas and a pot of chocolate caliente.  At the Mansion Iturbe in Patzcuaro, Michoacan [i love staying here--it makes me feel rich], breakfast is served with glasses of pureed mango pulp, and tiny crusty toasted pan slices with fresh mango marmalade.

A couple times I've drunk the juice out of coconuts through a straw stuck  into a macheted puncture.  My husband and I buy bananas and papayas and mangoes in the markets and eat them in our rooms, slicing into them with pocket knives.

It was really fun to read about Miss J's food adventures in Yucatan.  In 1995 my husband and I visited his brother in Panama and we ate LOTS of ceviche.  With reckless abandon, really.  That was my first trip to Latin America and I wasn't really taking food precautions.

On consecutive trips we'd eat at food kiosks in the markets and pretty much consume everything except obviously raw salads or already peeled fruits. But then on our honeymoon in Guatemala we both got giardia, and we were very sick for about two months.  It's not the little bouts of Moctezuma's Revenge that scare me.  It's the more enduring critters that enjoy symbiotic relationships with the human GI tract.

Now when we travel we don't even look at the food in open air markets.  This is very sad, but it seems prudent.  I wonder if any other readers have had experiences they'd share and also talk about how they cope with sanitation issues in developing countries?  One of the main attractions of Mexico is the food, but, alas, it can make one very sick.

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Jaymes, GREAT post...  Our travel has been in Jalisco, Michoacan, Taxco, DF, Guanajuato.  

The best breakfast is chilaquiles [i like green] with extra tortillas and a pot of chocolate caliente.  

In 1995 my husband and I visited his brother in Panama and we ate LOTS of ceviche.  

But then on our honeymoon in Guatemala we both got giardia,

I wonder if any other readers have had experiences they'd share and also talk about how they cope with sanitation issues in developing countries.

Thanks for the compliment, but you'd better not encourage me, or I might never shut up!

You have traveled to parts of Mexico that few tourists get to...and I'm curious how it happened that you have visited there, rather than the more common destinations...beaches, etc.  Did you just select those areas, or were you there for business reasons?

As for the chilaquiles...do you have recipes or would you like one?  I have two "housewife" recipes.  The ones in the cookbooks are very complicated, with chicken and a bunch of other stuff that doesn't show up in the breakfast chilaquiles that you get all over Mexico.

Ceviche in Panama...  I was lucky enough to live in Panama for four years.  Our favorite restaurant at the time was Restarante de las Americas...  They sold ceviche to go.  We would get a big glass gallon jug of it at least once a week so we always had it in the fridge.  I have a recipe that I got from a Panamian cook and I've made it several times here, but it's not as good.  For one thing, I believe in Panama they usually used Bonita fish (although it's been a long time ago and I am no longer certain that's what it was) and here, I wasn't able to get the same kind.

Sanitation in underdeveloped countries...  I don't tell many folks this because they are often derisive, but this is what works for me.  When I first arrive into the country, I go immediately to one of the big, fancy, tourist hotels to eat.  I know that their income is dependent upon not getting foreigners sick.  I eat there at least two or three times the first day or two, chatting up the staff, especially the portly ones.  THEN, I begin to pick their brains about other good places to visit, eat, sightsee, etc.  This technique has never failed me, and I've been invited into homes, gone to family parties and celebrations, and even one wedding, with my new friends from the hotel.  If I'm in a big city, I do much the same thing by immediately taking the "City Tour."  I see a lot of things really fast, in an hour or two, and have a guide to chat up.  Other than these two tips for making new friends of the locals, I follow the usual advice...  Try to eat in places that are obviously clean, reputable.  Avoid food stalls.  Unless I am in well-known restaurant, I don't eat anything uncooked that has a large surface area to wash...like lettuce.  I don't drink anything that has irregularly-shaped ice cubes that look as though they've been chipped off of a large block sitting out back in the alleyway.  Even in the largest and fanciest of restaurants, I never eat any kind of ground meat.... absolutely no hamburgers by the pool no matter how luxurious the hotel nor how good the hamburgers look or smell.  You had mentioned that you avoid fish in Mexico...  I confess I do just the opposite, at least when I am in coastal areas.  It seems to me that the fish is invariably fresh, just off the boats.

This has worked for me and I have visited and lived in lots of underdeveloped countries, both in America and the Far East.  I just try to use common sense...but I sure will not give up the experience of trying new things.  Even though I have munched on extremely exotic items (Creamed Chicken Testicles comes to mind), I have never gotten sick.

Giardia...  By contrast, my youngest boy contracted Giardia while we were living in Panama City, Florida....so there you go.  You never know.

Love your posts, StellaB.  I look for your name all over eGullet.  Keep them coming.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thanks for the compliment, but you'd better not encourage me, or I might never shut up!

PLEASE don't shut up!

Yes, I'd like a chilaquile recipe.  My husband and I have all of Bayless's books and one called A Cook's Tour of Mexico [Nancy Zaslavsky].  So far I've only made a chorizo stew from this one.  My husband and a friend of his have gotten into salsa and mole making in past years.  Our freezer is full of ancho pastes and whatnot.  The best by far is tomatillo salsa [which is what I prefer in my chilaquiles].  We have even grown tomatillos in recent years, but with mixed success.  M & J were on a kick for a while and came up with a great potato & tomatillo dish:  layer sliced raw potatoes in a greased casserole, pour tomatillo salsa generously over all, then add a good amount of heavy cream ["crema" is better if available], crumble asadero cheese over all, then bake til bubbling.  I recommend.

Anyway, my husband and I just have a mutual passion for Latin America.  How can I explain it?  Neither of us speaks Spanish as well as we ought, and we have decided that next May, and we mean it this time, we are going to a language school in Cuenca, Ecuador.

I am an ESL teacher and I used to work with adults, mostly young men from Mexico in later years, and I loved them passionately.  The first time my husband and I visited Mexico, I cried as we landed, I was so moved to be there.  Before we go I always do a little reading up--Mexico is not the place to go and be totally spontaneous, though I do love to travel this way.  Our frist trip together we HAD to go see El Museo del Mumia in Guanajuato; in addition I had read about this little funky Michoacan town, Patzcuaro--it is by far our favorite place, though my husband has also been to Oaxaca and loves it and that's our next destination.  Our last trip to Guadalajara was not my favorite, but my husband really valued the Huichol museum and shop north of the city.  We collect folk art--I guess you could say it's our primary interest, but we also just love BEING there.  It's so hard to explain, unless you're one of us--I just love the colors, the music, the people, the food, everything.

Since 1998 my husband has been taking college students to Ecuador to learn about "societies in transition" with a heavy emphasis on "nontraditional medicine", ie SHAMANISM.  Now we are both passionate addicts of Ecuador.  The other day I found a website advertsiing properties for sale in Ecuador.  We could buy a house for about 15K--maybe not a great house, but a house.  I have this nagging desire--this would be the best place to retire.

Anyway, when we are in the rainforest we are always served a sort of "ceviche"--it is ususally [FRESH] heart of palm and tomato finely minced and marinated in a little vinegar and sugar.  It is so good.  The raw marinated seafoods and camarones coctels are among my favorite foods on earth, but alas I can't overcome my fear.  Your tips on how to get the cleanest food are excellent--it sounds like you are very at ease with the language, too.  I am not at all derisive of your method--you are smart.  I've seen stupid tourists doing really stupid things in my travels and I've seen them pay dearly for it.  What's the point?  

Good point about the giardia, too.  I think the risks exist everywhere, but I've had the worst maladies in the second and third world.  So I try to be open-minded and cautious and still enjoy myself.  Since we are returning to Ecuador so often and getting to know any number of local people better and better, I find we are eating much more adventurously, not to mention deliciously.  I posted on the South America board about eating armadillo and drinking chicha in the hut of some Shuar people, but the post got lost.  Oh, well.

Thanks for your tips!

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Yes, I'd like a chilaquile recipe.  

Anyway, my husband and I just have a mutual passion for Latin America.  The first time my husband and I visited Mexico, I cried as we landed, I was so moved to be there.  It's so hard to explain, unless you're one of us--I just love the colors, the music, the people, the food, everything.

Yes, I too love Mexico and the Mexican people.  And I love it all:  the energy of the border towns, the international flavor and "fiesta atmosphere" of the beach resorts, the history of the colonial cities, the majesty of DF, the pride of the Yucatecans...  All of it.. bright colors, garish designs, haggling in the marketplace, the music, the language, the paper flowers.  Todos.  ¿Maybe there's something to this "reincarnation" stuff, verdad, Beautiful Star?

I got my recipe for chilaquiles from a Mexican friend, a housewife, in Querétaro.  My daughter went for a visit a while back and, although I had asked for the recipe many times, got the typical "home cooking recipe" answer: "Oh, just a little of this and a little of that.  I can no say exactamente, it is the recipe de mi mamá y mi abuelita (little grandmother)."  

I told my daughter she was to go into Lita's kitchen and not

come back out until she knew how to make them.  

StellaB, I am including here an excerpt from an email my daughter sent to me during her stay in Querétaro.  I am including it because of your fondness for Mexico...I think you will enjoy my daughter's impression of Mexican grandmothers:  

"Mom, I am staying at Jaime's mother's house that is close to downtown Querétaro.  She is wonderful....and calls me 'mija.'  I love that.  I want to be a Mexican grandmother. They hug on you and kiss your cheeks, and make such good food and call everyone Mi Amor, or Mi Vida or Mija. It is so cute!"

So, anyway, mi amiga Lita, has four children.  The family eats chilaquiles for breakfast at least three or four mornings a week, so Lita has to be able to make it fast.  And she does.  This is how she does it:  

CHILAQUILES:

Salsa verde (tomatilla sauce); torn tortilla chips (Lita uses Fritos and told me not to laugh before I tried it and I didn't and I did and she's right, they work just fine); queso manchego (or asadero, or ranchero, or fresco, or any other Mexican white cheese that you like); and sour cream.  

In bottom of microwaveable dish, spread a little tomatilla sauce, then layer of Fritos, then more sauce, then sour cream, then "bastante queso."  Repeat, until dish is full or ingredients are all used up, finishing with cheese.  Microwave one minute, or till chilaquiles are heated through and cheese is melted.  You'll probably have to experiment a time or two in order to get all of the proportions just right.

TOMATILLO SAUCE:  (Stellabella, you said you make your own, so you proably don't need this recipe but here it is just in case.  I should also add that Lita often just buys Herdéz brand Salsa Verde in the small cans if she is pressed for time.)

1 tsp or so cooking oil (just enough to cover botton of saucepan)

6 or so whole tomatillos, paper skins removed  

jalepeños, or other chile peppers, to desired "pica"

water to cover

Put tomatillos and chiles in saucepan and water, just to barely cover.  Bring to boil and cook just till tomatillos are soft (not too long, don't want them "mushy").  Put tomatillos and peppers (do not discard cooking water) into blender or food processor along with:

2 small cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup chopped onion

"handful" cilantro

2 tsp "caldo de pollo" (which I interpret to mean powdered chicken boullion, but I don't know for sure...should have asked, but never did...that's what I add and it comes out fine)

Blend in food processor very well.  Add cooking water to reach desired "sauce" consistancy...you want it fairly liquid, but flavorful and not "watered-down" tasting, so use your own judgment.

Buena suerte, Stellabella and let me know how it turns out.  

PS-if you try this tomatilla sauce and you like yours better, I'd like that recipe.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Put tomatillos and chiles in saucepan and cover with water.  

Whoops - should have made it clearer that you want water JUST BARELY to cover.  You're going to use it later, so you don't want too much.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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¿Maybe there's something to this "reincarnation" stuff, verdad, Beautiful Star?

I often wonder about this myself.  These days I get weepy when I eat in Central American restaurants--they've all become hybrids in the Atlanta area--serving various favorite Salvadorean/Mexican dishes, for example.  Before spending time in Mexico I never gave a second thought to the lone male diners at the corner booth staring dazedly into space, drunk, perhaps.  Now I read a loneliness/longing/homesickness into those empty stares.  I think the average American totally misses this.  These people often give up a great deal to be here, in the land of opportunity...  No...I won't get up on this soap box right now.

Your daughter's email is wonderful and I thank you for sharing that!  Is she studying?  How wonderful that the family shares a passion for Mexico.

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Jaymes and Stellabella, I am interested in these green sauces.

The one I make was taught to me by a Mexican lady, Victoria, and is quite similar to the recipe you posted, Jaymes, but with more cilantro and less onion, and no boiling of anything, ingredients bunged into the blender with maybe a little water to facilitate matters and let 'er rip.

Victoria insisted on not too much onion in any of her sauces, considering it a diluting agent in excess.  A very refined cook she was, turning out very refined food.  I have seen another Mexican lady from the same village as Victoria use chicken base in seemingly unlikely places, (cactus salad, for instance), but Victoria did not include it in her green sauce.

Priscilla

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Okay, Stellabella, Priscilla and I need your green sauce recipe post haste (or should I say, muy pronto).

StellaB - I tried your husband's potatoes...  They were really good!  Have you had a chance to whip up some chilaquiles?

My daughter was not studying, just visiting friends whom I had met through Rotary Club.... the Rotary Club of Querétaro was our Sister Club.  

She will be studying soon, though... Spanish, at the University of Salamanca, Spain, this summer.  She was born when we were living in Panamá and Spanish was the first language she heard, so she has very little accent.  She is a teacher at a small private school here in Austin, and has received a stipend from the school to begin work on her master's degree with this program in Salamanca.  She will start teaching Spanish at her school this fall.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The site Mexico Connect can have quite a bit of useful information.

The site also has a sparsely populated message board that can turn up some help on occasion for specific question related to Mexican cuisine.

Thanks for the website info.  I checked it out and it's really great!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The one I make was taught to me by a Mexican lady, Victoria, and is quite similar to the recipe you posted, Jaymes, but with more cilantro and less onion,

Well, WHOOPS again!  (In addition to "Spellcheck," I need "Idiotcheck.")  

I just looked at that recipe for Tomatillo Sauce, and saw that I had typed in the amount of onion incorrectly.  It's not 1/C, but rather, 1/4 cup onion.  Considerably less, obviously!  I did go back and edit it to reflect the correct amount.

Stellabella - if you tried it, for goodness sake, try it again.  Obviously an entire cup of onion would overpower the tomatillos.

As for the cilantro - a "handful" which is what my friend Lita says she uses, is pretty darn subjective!  So, I imagine that's really "to taste."

Love this thread...it's actually about food.

Thanks, Priscilla...

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Lovely green sauce.  Yes, cilantro amount certainly varies, and I know I put in more than I was taught, looks so pretty and tastes so good, people like it.  But Victoria was strict about it being a tomatillo story, not a cilantro story, her green sauce, and it is much, much better when I do not go overboard on the cilantro.  Chiles, the sky's the limit.  Practically.

Priscilla

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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my husband is the one who makes these sauces--i am more likely to assemble the actual meal.  haven't tried the chilaquiles yet as have not been able to get tortillas yet --maybe over weekend?

anyway, the standard tomatillo salsa de la casa calls for almost EVERYTHING to be raosted.  it's incredible.  here goes:

on a lipped oiled baking sheet spread 24 large tomatillos, 3 large garlic cloves, 6 serrano peppers

roast til collapsed, cool, remove skins from garlic, stems & seeds from peppers & put in blender

add two SWEET raw onions & two bunches cilantro

pulse

eat

ahh

* here is where my husband and I will sometimes have one of our famous tifts.  i am a texture person, and he has this bizarre obsession with his Vitamix.  I think it turns everything into paste.  We have a beautiful mocajete that i prefer to use for salsas & guacamole--I actualy use the pestle to grind the ingredients together.  I like varying chunks in my salsas.  if you prefer texture don't use a blender, or at least only PULSE it.

every sept. we spend a weekend with friends in a cabin in north georgia.  a few years back one couple brought their entire habanero harvest.  during the afternoon, as we all sat around drinking beer & basking in our indolence, my husband and the male half of said couple engaged in a dueling salsas competition.  we had our mocajete, they had theirs--the race was on:

the remainder of the group assembled around the coffee table, bowls of ships positioned between every two or three persons.  we waited anxiously for each concoction.  the guys were using whatever was at hand.  the winner that day was the banana/lemon curd/pineapple/cilantro/ habanero salsa.

how does that sound?

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my husband is the one who makes these sauces--i am more likely to assemble the actual meal.  haven't tried the chilaquiles yet as have not been able to get tortillas yet --maybe over weekend?

We have a beautiful mocajete that i prefer to use for salsas & guacamole--I actualy use the pestle to grind the ingredients together.  I like varying chunks in my salsas.  if you prefer texture don't use a blender, or at least only PULSE it.

I know you're a purist, and undoubtedly won't want to try to use Fritos, or tostada chips from the store, but you might consider giving it a go anyway.  After all, if my Mexican friend, Lita, uses Fritos in her kitchen in Querétaro, that's pretty Mexican...

If I might suggest....do two runs....  one with fresh corn tortillas that you've fried, and one with Fritos...  then, please let me know if the extra step is worth the trouble.

Cannot thank you enough for your tomatilla sauce recipe...  it sounds devine...actually, beyond devine....fabulous.  I love the flavor that smoking or grilling imparts.  But I work pretty hard and have little time for extra fancy cooking steps, so am always looking for shortcuts.  I often just drop a dash or two of liquid smoke in my salsa if I don't have time to grill the peppers.  My plebian crowd can't tell the difference.

Also, and this is extremely important...  I bought a molcajete years ago, and tried to get it smooth.  I was told by several Mexican friends to grind rice in it until it was smooth, and I did grind and grind.  It firmed up my right upper arm quite nicely, but the molcajete is still rough and grainy and bits of sand wind up in my guacamole.  When I went back to those same Mexican girlfriends to ask them to explain more about it, like if I was doing it correctly, and how long should it take, they all said, "Well I don't really know because I got mine from my grandmother and my mother will leave hers to my daughter.  That's how we do it...it skips a generation."  So, none of them really have a clue.  They've just all *heard* about the rice thing, but none of them have actually done it.

Please, Miss Stellabella, tell me that a white girl from Georgia is now going to give me the majic hint as to what I can do to get my molcajete all sanded off and smooth.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Please, Miss Stellabella, tell me that a white girl from Georgia is now going to give me the majic hint as to what I can do to get my mocajete all sanded off and smooth.

my advice is to go back to the nearest tienda and see if they have one that's already smooth!!!!!!!! :smile:

we bought one for about 8 bucks--it was that bumpy volcanic stone; then the guy who coaches my husband in salsa-making told us that we could get a better one--with a smooth surface--for about $24.  sure enough we looked again and got the nicer one for more money.  that's the only majik i can impart, i am afraid.

perhaps i am a purist.  but i think my aversion to fritos vs. raw corn tortillas is SALT.  i never thought about it til this moment, in fact.  i may try the fritos at some point.

last night i rooted through the freezer and found some roasted pepper salsa; and got some tortillas from atl. farmer's market.  now i am ready to make some chilaquiles.

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Perhaps i am a purist.  but i think my aversion to fritos vs. raw corn tortillas is SALT.  i never thought about it til this moment, in fact.  i may try the fritos at some point.

last night i rooted through the freezer and found some roasted pepper salsa; and got some tortillas from atl. farmer's market.  now i am ready to make some chilaquiles.

Yeah, I know what you mean about the Fritos...  There was just something about it that made it hard for me to break down and go with, too.....  The salt, the fact that they're so non-Mex, everything.  I had decided not to use them, but as things sometime go, it was late, I was tired, so thought what the heck.  But they turn out really good.  Of course, I have to hide the Fritos bag when I'm making them for company.  It's just kind of *embarassing*

Can hardly wait to hear how yours are.  And, the play by play account.  I sure hope they're what you're looking for.  They fit the bill for me and I'd been looking for a good, simple recipe for a long time.

Buena suerte, Amiga!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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One of the things most interesting about Mexican regional cuisine is the influence that other cultures have had on it: just as is the case in the US.

For example, a number of Mennonites settled in Northern Mexico and brought with them their methods of producing dairy products, particularly cheeses. The northern part of the country too produces more wheat so the tortillas in the north will typically be flour, rather than corn.

The Spaniards brought with them olives (and olive oil) and married them with tomatoes and chiles to form the typical ingredients that make up the sauces for dishes in the style a la Veracruz.

They brought with them sheep too and goats so cabrito finds its way onto the menu in many places.

Chocolate is native to regions of the country but Mexico is not a country where chocolate in solid form is king. You'll take your chocolate in the form of champurrado, atole o chocolate, or perhaps in a pastel. If you're going to a dulcería you'll find caramels (made with goat's milk), fruits candied in sugar and chile, nuts and nougats, but no truffles.

The range of cuisine is so broad and so fascinating that you could cook something different everyday and still not discover its depths.

¡Provecho!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I made chilaquiles Saturday night--they were a success. I used Jaymes's and several other recipes I had on hand--sorta looking at what all had in common and going from there. My husband and I made my tomatillo salsa, which is very easy and quite good at this time of year with peppers from the garden.

I cut corn tortillas into eighths and then fried them briefly in canola oil, til they were chewy. In a deep cast iron skillet I dumped the tortillas, the salsa and two cups of grated queso seco, stirred then heated in the oevn til bubbly. Served with simple salad of black beans, pepper, onion, tomato, avocado and lime juice.

No leftovers, so I guess it was a success.

Jaymes--you are absolutely right about the fritos--after I fried up the tortillas, I tasted one, then two, then three, and they do get a very salty corn flavor--fritos would work, if time were a constraint.

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Jaymes, getting the mojacete smooth: I tried rice too and it didn't work. Then a Mexican worker on my nephew's farm told me to pound up raw corn kernels cut off the cob and that worked. At least I think it did -- I had a little salsa and hot sauce business at the time and we were busy pounding away at huge quantities of roasted jalapenos and serranos and roasted garlic over a period of several months. Maybe sheer volume finally did it.

The rough ones are very beautiful -- I don't know that I've ever seen the smoother ones.

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