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Food Rules in Mexico


caroline
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Some weeks ago, I ran across a cartoon by Calderón in the newspaper Reforma. The point had to do with the long legal case involving Mexico City's mayor which was of consuming interest (sorry) in Mexico but not in the rest of the world.

But the examples were drawn from food. It seemed to me an interesting and amusing insight into what the cartoonist assumed his readers would eat. The point is that each rule is broken all the time. A rough translation and no pictures.

Chiles en nogada should not be capeados (cooked in batter)

Donuts should not be dunked.

Hot dogs should not have ketchup.

Spaghetti should not be cut.

Sushi should not have cream cheese.

Hot chocolate should not be made with milk.

Paella should not come with "everything."

Beer should not be served in frozen mugs.

Carne asada should not be well cooked.

Esquites (corn kernels) should not be served with mayonaise.

One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

Well, the sushi's certainly a lost cause. Mexican sushi without queso crema is almost unthinkable!

Rachel

Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I agree with all of the above! I told my Japanese stepmother about the sushi with cream cheese situation; her first response was "what's that?"...when I told her it is what my father likes on his bagel, she was absolutely HORRIFIED! I think she may never come to Mexico...

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Some weeks ago, I ran across a cartoon by Calderón in the newspaper Reforma.  The point had to do with the long legal case involving Mexico City's mayor which was of consuming interest (sorry) in Mexico but not in the rest of the world.

But the examples were drawn from food.  It seemed to me an interesting and amusing insight into what the cartoonist assumed his readers would eat.  The point is that each rule is broken all the time. A rough translation and no pictures.

Chiles en nogada should not be capeados (cooked in batter)

Donuts should not be dunked.

Hot dogs should not have ketchup.

Spaghetti should not be cut.

Sushi should not have cream cheese.

Hot chocolate should not be made with milk.

Paella should not come with "everything."

Beer should not be served in frozen mugs.

Carne asada should not be well cooked.

Esquites (corn kernels) should not be served with mayonaise.

One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

Well, the sushi's certainly a lost cause. Mexican sushi without queso crema is almost unthinkable!

Rachel

Okay to serve lager in frozen glass but not for stout, Belgian or ale.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

I got a real kick out of this one. My objection to Mexican food (second to the hotness) is that they serve not TWO starches but THREE at a time: beans, rice and tortillas. But perhaps they don't do this so much in Mexico?

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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My objection to Mexican food (second to the hotness) is that they serve not TWO starches but THREE at a time: beans, rice and tortillas. But perhaps they don't do this so much in Mexico?

Where and what have you been eating?

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One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

I got a real kick out of this one. My objection to Mexican food (second to the hotness) is that they serve not TWO starches but THREE at a time: beans, rice and tortillas. But perhaps they don't do this so much in Mexico?

Sounds like you've been eating at Taco Bell, mi amor....

Most Mexican food is neither "hot" nor is it always necesarily accompanied by "rice, beans and tortillas"...stick with us here and you'll learn about the richness and complexity of Mexican cuisine.

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Sounds like you've been eating at Taco Bell, mi amor....

Most Mexican food is neither "hot" nor is it always necesarily accompanied by "rice, beans and tortillas"...stick with us here and you'll learn about the richness and complexity of Mexican cuisine.

Oh, my! Having my taste in food and my culinary knowledge disparaged in one posting deserves a reply. :raz:

Although I don't eat there, ironically Taco Bell is one place you can get (so-called) Mexican Food without rice and beans.

These are instances of my experience with Mexican Food:

1. I've been to Mexico twice. While it's true that not all food is hot, you can never trust that some sneaky hot food won't be lurking among the tame ones. I'm very sensitive to spicy heat, so what seems bland to others can be painful to me.

Come to think of it, I object to the flavor of chilies as well as the heat. Pick up any Mexican cookbook, Rick Bayless or whomever, and just count the recipes that include chilies. The majority, I'll bet.

2. My daughter's MIL cooks a lot of Mexican food. She once had a job as a cook for Mexican ranch hands, and presumably cooked to suit them. Rice with chiles and tomatoes, refried beans, enchiladas feature largely. My daughter cooks Mexican food almost weekly. Just this week she made a Mexican beef dish with Mexican spices she bought at a Mexican grocery in Arizona, and had first eaten at the home of native Mexicans. (This was a special celebratory dish the family made in honor of my daughter's visiting family and her in-laws.) They all loved it, I hated it.

3. I've eaten at many Mexican restaurants, from chains to tiny holes-in-the-wall where "everyone who eats there is Mexican" and "it's run by Mexicans who don't speak English". Same old, same old. (I have not been the person who picked the restaurant, ever.)

The only upscale Mexican restaurants I've eaten at were in Mexico. The two recipes I brought back with me from there are: Caesar salad, made at tableside, back before it became ubiquitos, and a dessert of ice cream and fruit covered with a sugary meringue and baked in a metal champagne saucer.

I'm sure there are some other Mexican dishes I would like, but finding them no longer appeals to me. On the other hand, if you want to persuade me, I'll gladly accept an invitation to dinner. :wink:

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I think it may have less to do with practice in (say) say the US than the deep-rooted Mexican belief that it is detrimental to health to drink very cold drinks especially on hot days or when you are hot.

When I studied voice, one of my teachers was adamant about not drinking cold liquids - very bad for the throat. It is now engrained, I always ask for water, no ice.

And as an aside, I've always found it interesting in Mexico, that they will not go for a swim if it is even slightly cool outside. They say it is very bad for the health.

We've booked hotels solely for the advantage of a pool. For us, December is balmy most places in Mexico. We dive right into the empty pool with many of the service staff watching the crazy foreigners. :laugh:

Edited by shelora (log)
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Sounds like you've been eating at Taco Bell, mi amor....

Most Mexican food is neither "hot" nor is it always necesarily accompanied by "rice, beans and tortillas"...stick with us here and you'll learn about the richness and complexity of Mexican cuisine.

Oh, my! Having my taste in food and my culinary knowledge disparaged in one posting deserves a reply. :raz:

Although I don't eat there, ironically Taco Bell is one place you can get (so-called) Mexican Food without rice and beans.

These are instances of my experience with Mexican Food:

1. I've been to Mexico twice. While it's true that not all food is hot, you can never trust that some sneaky hot food won't be lurking among the tame ones. I'm very sensitive to spicy heat, so what seems bland to others can be painful to me.

Come to think of it, I object to the flavor of chilies as well as the heat. Pick up any Mexican cookbook, Rick Bayless or whomever, and just count the recipes that include chilies. The majority, I'll bet.

2. My daughter's MIL cooks a lot of Mexican food. She once had a job as a cook for Mexican ranch hands, and presumably cooked to suit them. Rice with chiles and tomatoes, refried beans, enchiladas feature largely. My daughter cooks Mexican food almost weekly. Just this week she made a Mexican beef dish with Mexican spices she bought at a Mexican grocery in Arizona, and had first eaten at the home of native Mexicans. (This was a special celebratory dish the family made in honor of my daughter's visiting family and her in-laws.) They all loved it, I hated it.

3. I've eaten at many Mexican restaurants, from chains to tiny holes-in-the-wall where "everyone who eats there is Mexican" and "it's run by Mexicans who don't speak English". Same old, same old. (I have not been the person who picked the restaurant, ever.)

The only upscale Mexican restaurants I've eaten at were in Mexico. The two recipes I brought back with me from there are: Caesar salad, made at tableside, back before it became ubiquitos, and a dessert of ice cream and fruit covered with a sugary meringue and baked in a metal champagne saucer.

I'm sure there are some other Mexican dishes I would like, but finding them no longer appeals to me. On the other hand, if you want to persuade me, I'll gladly accept an invitation to dinner. :wink:

Well, if you don't like it, you don't like it, but I'll have to mis-quote the great Duke Ellington when I say "there are only two kinds of food: good food and bad food".

If you DO come to Mexico again, try some of the restaurants that we have discussed here, such as Izote...maybe you can be converted!

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Hot chocolate should not be made with milk.

Ever since my very first visit to Mexico, thirty-five years ago, I've preferred my hot chocolate made with water. But that shouldn't have surprised me. When it comes to candy choices, I also prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

Actually, my favorite is strong hot chocolate made with water, and a big dollop of whipped cream on top. Sipping that dark, hot chocolate up through the sweet milky cream is my idea of heaven in a cup.

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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  • 2 weeks later...

One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

I got a real kick out of this one. My objection to Mexican food (second to the hotness) is that they serve not TWO starches but THREE at a time: beans, rice and tortillas. But perhaps they don't do this so much in Mexico?

I was just thinking about this "Mexican" habit a few days ago when I was deciding weather or not to get bread to go with dinner....spaghetti...now before the low carb mental assualt this would have been a no brainer....of course you serve bread with macaroni....at least in NJ.....and yes in my house tomato sauce is a vegetable

tracey

Edited by rooftop1000 (log)

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

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Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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  • 3 weeks later...

One starch should not be accompanied by another (torta guajalota or torta stuffed with tamal)

I got a real kick out of this one. My objection to Mexican food (second to the hotness) is that they serve not TWO starches but THREE at a time: beans, rice and tortillas. But perhaps they don't do this so much in Mexico?

I believe that combinations of rice, beans, and tortillas constitute a complete protein. In a country where animal protein is not always affordable, or consumed in the proportions to other dietary items as here in the US, there must be other dietary sources of complete proteins, or terrible health consequences result.

In fact, in most dietary regimens beans are considered a protein rather than a starch, and I believe you will find that a corn tortilla also contains protein and fiber, with little fat, and no processed sugars and starches. That leaves only the rice with the high Glycemic Index.

There are several excellent nutrition books available that will lay all of this out in more technical ways for you.

The plate of beans and tortillas, but not always rice, is typically rounded off with greens of some sort, and salsas. Chiles bring much to the plate other than heat: stimulation of gastric juices, flavor, aroma, and Vitamins A and C. It is, all in all, a very healthful diet. The problem comes in when you fry everything , and do it up with sour cream, flour tortillas, and yellow cheese.

And yes, they do do this so much in Mexico.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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The plate of beans and tortillas, but not always rice, is typically rounded off with greens of some sort, and salsas.  Chiles bring much to the plate other than heat:  stimulation of gastric juices, flavor, aroma, and Vitamins A and C.  It is, all in all, a very healthful diet.  The problem comes in when you fry everything , and do it up with sour cream, flour tortillas, and yellow cheese.

And yes, they do do this so much in Mexico.

Thanks for setting the record straight Theabroma. Just beautiful.

I've missed you on this forum.

Welcome back.

s

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I've thought about this some more, and would like to add a couple of thoughts and observastions:

First, I work with 'ethinic' foods out of great personal interest - something other than pot roast and mashed potatoes has always gotten me curious and excited. But the more I work, taste, travel, research, the more I realize that most of us have our notions of what constitutes food typical of a country and its cultures is formed by what we have access to here at home. Either our interpretation, or the traditional dish prepared by a native of the culture, but in a location where the usual ingredients are not available, and desire for the foods of home outstrips the willingness to wait until they can find the culturally appropriate, or 'real' ingredients to make it with. For example: bell peppers in place of chiles poblanos (yes, m'dear, they haven't been readily available all that long (and I say that living in Texas, and having lived on the border for 2 years); cream cheese or jack in place of queso menonita/chihuahua; flour tortillas in places where they are rarely used, even in Northern Mexico, because adequate corn tortillas were not available; yellow cheese, Kraft slices, and Velveeta (especially Velveeta w/Rotel tomatoes ... most Americans would not be able to locate chile con queso on a Mexican menu, and if they ordered queso fundido - which is the original - they would likely send it back because it wouldn't comport with their notion of chile con queso. I know this: I grew up on Velveeta and Rotel queso. And, what's more, I like it. I now know that it is a make do because the chiles and the cheeses used for the 'original' were not available until recently in this country.

A lot of what we think of as 'ethnic' food is really the foods or cuisines of the financially and politically fortunate or elite of the country or culture in question, AND NOT THE FOODS OF THE MARKET STALLS, AND IN THE DAY LABORERS OR PEASANTS COOKPOTS (edited to try and clarify). That is the only form of cooking that contemplates such a thing as a chef, or specially trained person, to elaborate and promulgate it. It is, nine times out of ten, the only cuisine which is widely written about. And that is often true even today. The written records - ancient or contemporary, ethnographic piece or cookbook - is largely devoted to these dishes and not those of 'the people.' Since it is these records which provide the majority of us with our access to learning about a particular cuisine, it further skews our view of what is 'authentic' xyz cooking.

And third, we are not a nation known for its excellence in training its citizens in the basics of nutrition ... the real thing, with the role of carbs, proteins, fats, vitimins, trace minerals, etc., plus intake, timing of meals, physical activitiy expenditures, etc. Add to that the fact that we have more or less honestly come by some powerfully skewed notions of what constitutes the foods of a particular culture or ethnic group, we are perhaps clogging on top of a souffle to pronounce that food 'too starchy', too fatty, etc.'

Do not forget that fat in abundance came with the Conquest; it was not available in the New World prior to that point in time. The Asian diet, based on a starchy staple - why doesn't anyone ever slam the Chinese or Japanese as they slam the Mexicans for eating so much starch??? - with vegetables, some of which are also starchy, or high on the Glycemic Index, and animal protein in condiment portions, is usually looked to by dietitians and nutrition researchers as a salutary model diet. Yet it is starchy. It is those of us in the West, and principally here in the US, who are having a problem.

I think that we need better information. I think that we really need to learn about the foods and cooking techniques that characterize ethnic cuisines. Before they were beset with MickeyD's, CocaCola, and the trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup flood of biblical proportions which they bring.

theabroma

Edited by theabroma (log)

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Either our interpretation, or the traditional dish prepared by a native of the culture, but in a location where the usual ingredients are not available, and desire for the foods of home outstrips the willingness to wait until they can find the culturally appropriate, or 'real' ingredients to make it with.

This is the reason that I haven't made that unusual mole recipe you sent me, that is taped to my kitchen cupboard. I'll find those chilcoztlis when I'm in Oaxaca this December.

I prefer exploring the original recipe first, before substituting chilies.

But now that I've said that and again reread your post, substituting ingredients happens a lot in "authentic" Mexican kitchens, no?

Thickening types of moles for example. If stale bread isn't available, I've heard of some women using animal crackers.

Are you saying that a recipe pre-conquest would be the most traditional?

A lot of what we think of as 'ethnic' food is really the foods or cuisines of the financially and politically fortunate or elite of the country or culture in question. That is the only form of cooking that contemplates such a thing as a chef, or specially trained person, to elaborate and promulgate it. It is, nine times out of ten, the only cuisine which is widely written about. And that is often true even today. The written records - ancient or contemporary, ethnographic piece or cookbook - is largely devoted to these dishes and not those of 'the people.' Since it is these records which provide the majority of us with our access to learning about a particular cuisine, it further skews our view of what is 'authentic' xyz cooking.

I'm not sure I understand this, Thea. Can you site an example of an 'ethnic' food that is of the financially or politically fortunate?

Shelora

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...and Velveeta (especially Velveeta w/Rotel tomatoes ... most Americans would not be able to locate chile con queso on a Mexican menu, and if they ordered queso fundido - which is the original - they would likely send it back because it wouldn't comport with their notion of chile con queso.  I know this:  I grew up on Velveeta and Rotel queso.  And, what's more, I like it.  I now know that it is a make do because the chiles and the cheeses used for the 'original' were not available until recently in this country.

This provided a truly surreal moment for my daughter and me while dining at a restaurant in Mexico.

At the next table were four ladies on holiday from Texas. As much as I hate to feed negative stereotypes, my daughter and I could hardly manage to stiffle our giggles while one of the woman engaged in this exchange with the waiter:

"Don't y'all have queso? I don't see it on the menu."

"Cheese? Si, senora, we have cheese. What kind of cheese do you want."

"No, not just cheese. Melted cheese. With, um, you know, tomatoes and chiles and stuff."

"Melted cheese? With chiles? We have queso fundido -- flameado."

"I never heard of that. Does it come in a little bowl?"

"Uh, bowl? No, Senora, um...it comes in a...I don't know how to say it..." He asks for help from another passing waiter. "A skillet. Little."

"Skillet? No, no, that's not what we want. We want queso, chile con queso....you know, with Velveeta and RoTel."

"Velveeta and RoTel?"

"Yes. It's Mexican. All the Mexican restaurants in Texas have it."

My daughter and I watched his face closely as he considered this.

"Well, Senora, I am sorry, but I have never been to Texas, y don't know of this, but we don't have it. Can I get you something else?"

"No. (Sigh.) We'll just order lunch."

"Okay," he said, clearly relieved, snapping to attention and returning his pad and pen to the ready position. "What would you like?"

"You know, y'all really should have chile con queso. It's very easy. You just melt Velveeta and RoTel tomatoes. You should tell your chef all about it. I'm sure you'd sell a lot of it."

And, sadly, since we were sitting poolside at a large resort in Playa del Carmen, I'm sure she's right.

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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...and Velveeta (especially Velveeta w/Rotel tomatoes ... most Americans would not be able to locate chile con queso on a Mexican menu, and if they ordered queso fundido - which is the original - they would likely send it back because it wouldn't comport with their notion of chile con queso.  I know this:  I grew up on Velveeta and Rotel queso.  And, what's more, I like it.  I now know that it is a make do because the chiles and the cheeses used for the 'original' were not available until recently in this country.

This provided a truly surreal moment for my daughter and me while dining at a restaurant in Mexico.

At the next table were four ladies on holiday from Texas. As much as I hate to feed negative stereotypes, my daughter and I could hardly manage to stiffle our giggles while one of the woman engaged in this exchange with the waiter:

"Don't y'all have queso? I don't see it on the menu."

"Cheese? Si, senora, we have cheese. What kind of cheese do you want."

"No, not just cheese. Melted cheese. With, um, you know, tomatoes and chiles and stuff."

"Melted cheese? With chiles? We have queso fundido -- flameado."

"I never heard of that. Does it come in a little bowl?"

"Uh, bowl? No, Senora, um...it comes in a...I don't know how to say it..." He asks for help from another passing waiter. "A skillet. Little."

"Skillet? No, no, that's not what we want. We want queso, chile con queso....you know, with Velveeta and RoTel."

"Velveeta and RoTel?"

"Yes. It's Mexican. All the Mexican restaurants in Texas have it."

My daughter and I watched his face closely as he considered this.

"Well, Senora, I am sorry, but I have never been to Texas, y don't know of this, but we don't have it. Can I get you something else?"

"No. (Sigh.) We'll just order lunch."

"Okay," he said, clearly relieved, snapping to attention and returning his pad and pen to the ready position. "What would you like?"

"You know, y'all really should have chile con queso. It's very easy. You just melt Velveeta and RoTel tomatoes. You should tell your chef all about it. I'm sure you'd sell a lot of it."

And, sadly, since we were sitting poolside at a large resort in Playa del Carmen, I'm sure she's right.

The waiter handled that so gracefully. Reading that story made me first repulsed, then nauseous followed by a wave of sadness. Sigh!

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Either our interpretation, or the traditional dish prepared by a native of the culture, but in a location where the usual ingredients are not available, and desire for the foods of home outstrips the willingness to wait until they can find the culturally appropriate, or 'real' ingredients to make it with.

This is the reason that I haven't made that unusual mole recipe you sent me, that is taped to my kitchen cupboard. I'll find those chilcoztlis when I'm in Oaxaca this December.

I prefer exploring the original recipe first, before substituting chilies.

But now that I've said that and again reread your post, substituting ingredients happens a lot in "authentic" Mexican kitchens, no?

Thickening types of moles for example. If stale bread isn't available, I've heard of some women using animal crackers.

Are you saying that a recipe pre-conquest would be the most traditional?

A lot of what we think of as 'ethnic' food is really the foods or cuisines of the financially and politically fortunate or elite of the country or culture in question. That is the only form of cooking that contemplates such a thing as a chef, or specially trained person, to elaborate and promulgate it. It is, nine times out of ten, the only cuisine which is widely written about. And that is often true even today. The written records - ancient or contemporary, ethnographic piece or cookbook - is largely devoted to these dishes and not those of 'the people.' Since it is these records which provide the majority of us with our access to learning about a particular cuisine, it further skews our view of what is 'authentic' xyz cooking.

I'm not sure I understand this, Thea. Can you site an example of an 'ethnic' food that is of the financially or politically fortunate?

Shelora

Girl, this is going to be one messy post!!!

Re: the concept of 'traditional'

I think there was a thread where this was vigorously debated ... and I think it was a while back in the Mx forum.

Before jumping headfirst into it, I'd like to ask for some agreement on how we define 'traditional.' Because by now, and certainly in South Texas, RoTel and Velveeta among the MexAm population in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is traditional.

Then, there is 'TexMex restaurant for gringos' notions of what Mexican food is all about' traditional - pain me though it does to say it, El Chico and El Fenix (from the '20's TxMx food chains here in Dallas) are traditional TxMx.

Then there is traditional for the Colonial Period in Mexico ... I think mole poblano and chiles en nogada fit this definition.

And then there is traditional among very rural populations who stay close to the area of their and their ancestors birthplace, and who struggle w/Spanish even more than I do, because they still all speak the local indigenous tongue.

And then there is traditional according to the codices and to the writings of the various chronistas, and of course of Sahagun in the Florentine Codex, all of that somewhat supported and clarified by archaeological finds, radio carbon dating, and coprolite analysis.

j And I think there are other layers of 'traditional' for which a solid argument for inclusion could be brought.

So, pick your tradition!

Thickening:

If you have ever made a salsa with a dried chile that was toasted/roasted/fried, and then soaked and ground, you will have noticed that a day or two in the refrigerator that salsa will have thickened, and taken on a certain glossiness indicative of the gelling of starch molecules. If you make a simple mole de olla, or a coloradito, and cook the ground chile paste, you know that it thickens. If you toast, grind, and add the seeds of that chile to the mole and continue to cook it you know that it really thickens. The same happens with pumpkinseeds and, to some extent, peanuts. I think that this, along with thickening with little bolitas of masa, were techniques known widely pre-Conquest.

I think that when sesame seeds, walnuts, and almonds showed up along with wheat flour, their use as thickeners in the European and Arab/Ottoman kiitchens segued in flawlessly with the prior knowledge of the thickening power of corn tortillas, masa, pepitas, and seeds. I also think that the rest of the incredients -

everything from raisins to olives to capers, wheat breads, pork, etc found a home in the native kitchen, rather than supplanting it. Deserts, candied fruits, milk fudges, things like that were non indigenous items that took root in the New World, but I do think that the basics of the cusine and its techniques were developed and elaborated long before the Conquest. Otherwise, the foods and the techniques of the cultures represented by the Conquest, would likely have totally overwhelmed and nearly eradicated the traditional up to 1519. This is quickly stated, and my thoughts. Would love comment, input, argument, etc. Much, much more needs to be understood about this process in general and in particular.

So. The mole amarillo is unlikely to be a post-Conquest invention. The simple blend of poached fowl, chiles, onion perhaps (xonacatl, native onion) and the pureed of hoja santa is perfectly in the native larder, and an elegant expression of it. A mole poblano, fully developed as we know it, it not tradtional prior to the conquest, but the essence of it is: the poached, shredded fowl, the chiles, pepitas, tomates/jitomates, tortilla, spices (Mx. oregano, xonacatl onions, etc, cacao). When you consider that moles are traditonal preparations, and they vary from region to region and chile combo to chile combo, it is not such a leap to see how a little tweaking in the kitchen could result in mole Poblano. In truth, it may have, in the form we know it, been developed in the Sta Rosa Convent in Puebla ... certainly that kitchen alone is capable of inspiring such glory ... but Sta. Rosa nuns did NOT INVENT mole. And mole poblano is not the only exquisite mole worth eating and rhapsodizing.

My suggestion: pick your tradition. I say make the mole amarillo with chilcoztlis and make it with guajillos. Which do you like better and why? The former may be the most 'traditional' but the latter may be the tastier.

I think a discussion of traditional is necessary for many reasons. And one of those reasons for me is to better know and understand how things might have been. Another is to help people realize that Mx food does not begin and end with beige vinyl rounds stuffed with chili and onions, and topped with Kraft singles. Beyond that, it becomes tyrannical, 'more traditional than thou' (ie: better, classier, hipper), and a block to any true understanding and appreciation.

As for ethnic food that is financially or politically fortunate - I went back into my original post and edited it in an attempt to clarify what I meant. I did not articulate my thoughts at all well. Let me try again!

Maybe any discussion of food needs to begin like a big-time commercial Contract for Purchase and Sale (I once worked with developers and commercial real estate attys). The first section which begins on page i and runs to page sin fin, is nothing more than a dictionary of what all those words in the contract are supposed to mean within the 'four corners' of only that contract.

So, what is ethnic?: I need to be aware that when I mention ethnic cuisine, there is a whole big world out there looking at me and my mashed potatoes, and my chicken fried steak (I'm a Texan of Southern ancestry, dammit!), my meatloaf, my wedge o'iceberg w/1000 Island dressing, my cornbread in buttermilk, and my oreos and glass of milk, and nattering on about me and my ethnic food. It's not ethnic! It's what I eat!!!! Well, the shoe fits.

So given that rant, I think it is fair to say that most of us would think of Turkish food, for example, as 'ethnic.' And we normally think of quaint things: doner kebab, eggplant stews, vegetable salads, vibrant with olive oil and lemon. If we're lucky enough to have visited Turkey, or had Turkish friends, or lived in an area blessed with some good Turkish restaurants, we may know Hunkar Begendi, or Imam Bayildi, etc. We would also probably either refer to or think of that as ethnic food. Now, think of coq au vin, or boeuf bourguignon, poulet normande, cassoulet. I think it is a stretch for us to think of those as ethnic.

But aren't they? The Hunkar Begendi and Imam Bayildi are dishes from Ottoman Court cuisine ... and should, really be placed in with the court cuisines, and their imitations, rather in with the food from the laboring and agrarian tables. The French foods mentioned, while polished over time, are of humble origin, and not too far removed from those origins.

I am suggesting - or trying to - that we would regard many of the dishes with pride of place in, say the Ottoman Court - or the Persian Court, or the Mughal Courts of India - as ethnic foods, that is wonderful, fun, but not worthy of serious consideration. They have no place in the world of our white tablecloth tradition. They are thought not to merit it. And yet those were the dishes fed to the royal courts of those countries ... not simple bowls of porridge, but grand confections requiring great training and a sophisticated palate to prepare and to enjoy.

I think I should have shut up long ago!!! Let's try it this way: I am waiting for the day that I hear from out midst a discourse on ethnic food, which focuses on foods of France, or Italy. If foie gras had come from the Aztecs (Muscovy ducks are native to Mexico, but alas, the Aztecs were into hearts, not livers!), we'd be buying it for $US 0.89/pound.

You may take you hip waders off now!!

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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This provided a truly surreal moment for my daughter and me while dining at a restaurant in Mexico.

At the next table were four ladies on holiday from Texas.  As much as I hate to feed negative stereotypes, my daughter and I could hardly manage to stiffle our giggles while one of the woman engaged in this exchange with the waiter:

"Don't y'all have queso? I don't see it on the menu."

"Cheese?  Si, senora, we have cheese.  What kind of cheese do you want."

"No, not just cheese.  Melted cheese.  With, um, you know, tomatoes and chiles and stuff."

"Melted cheese?  With chiles?  We have queso fundido -- flameado."

"I never heard of that.  Does it come in a little bowl?"

"Uh, bowl?  No, Senora, um...it comes in a...I don't know how to say it..."  He asks for help from another passing waiter.  "A skillet.  Little."

"Skillet?  No, no, that's not what we want.  We want queso, chile con queso....you know, with Velveeta and RoTel."

"Velveeta and RoTel?"

"Yes.  It's Mexican.  All the Mexican restaurants in Texas have it."

My daughter and I watched his face closely as he considered this.

"Well, Senora, I am sorry, but I have never been to Texas, y don't know of this, but we don't have it.  Can I get you something else?"

"No.  (Sigh.)  We'll just order lunch."

"Okay," he said, clearly relieved, snapping to attention and returning his pad and pen to the ready position.  "What would you like?"

"You know, y'all really should have chile con queso.  It's very easy.  You just melt Velveeta and RoTel tomatoes.  You should tell your chef all about it.  I'm sure you'd sell a lot of it."

And, sadly, since we were sitting poolside at a large resort in Playa del Carmen, I'm sure she's right.

That was PRICELESS! Thank you Thank you. I laughed until I was sick. And then I got my purse and ran up to the store for a can of RoTel and a bar of Velveeta. All that calcium and Vitamin C!

Bless you, girl.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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My head hurts in a pleasant kind of way.

I just wanted to add that in the bay area, we've always had poblano chiles (almost always erroneously called pasillas) as far back as I can remember (and I'm almost 18!) We have plenty of crap but we've had chiles for quite awhile.

When I was in the Yucatan (near Jaymes' Playa del Carmen) everything was fajitas, with bell peppers. I was quite happy to discover some local chiles, with seeds I smuggled back. I should have looked for "queso" (which I've never heard of before this thread.)

Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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RE: Velveeta and Ro-Tel:

WOW, I wish I had been there! Sounds really entertaining, I tried to read it imitating a Texas accent and I can picture it so clearly... I love it, still laughing!!

Edited by sandra (log)

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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Regarding the "etnic foods" question and the affluent:

Do you think this applies to Mexican "etnic" as well though? Because most of the food that is well know to "foreigners" falls into the antojito range I would say. It's only recently that "foreigners" have come to know such dishes as mole, veracruzana, chiles en nogada, let alone a tampiquena or manchamanteles! Certainly here in London the extent of Mexican is quesadillas and tacos... until NOW that is!!! :wink:

edited b/c I can't work the quotes tonight, too much mole grease on my fingers!

Edited by sandra (log)

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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