Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food in Mexico – This Week's Offerings

I have been a fan of Mexican food since my college days. The only Mexican food in town at that time was served at Taco Grande, similar to Taco Bell. Mexican food, to us college kids who didn't know better, was hard-shell tacos, burritos, nachos, and taco salad. While these were delicious (and cheap!), I had no idea there was a whole world of wonderful food waiting to be sampled.

When I moved to Dallas after my college graduation, I found a Mexican restaurant on almost every street. The food was similar to Taco Grande, but there were a few more choices…like fajitas, chimichangas, flautas, enchiladas, and sopapillas. I thought I was eating the traditional foods that Mexicans eat in Mexico.

Then, my husband and I moved to Mexico and I discovered that traditional Mexican food is not at all what I thought it was. There is far more variety and far more exotic foods than I ever imagined.

One traditional food that we love is Sopa Azteca or Tortilla Soup. This is a hearty, spicy soup that is often served in restaurants as the first course of the comida corrida (meal-of-the-day), but is really a meal in itself.

Tamales are another traditional food that we enjoy. The size, shape, and ingredients vary from region to region throughout Mexico. Some people say that the Mexican state of Oaxaca has the best tamales in the world.

Food in Mexico – Ingredients that may be unfamiliar

Ancho chile – This is a Poblano chile that has been dried. These can be fried in oil or ground into powder. Removing the veins and seeds before using will reduce the amount of heat they give the dish.

Queso asadero – This is a mild white or light yellow cheese that melts well. It is sometimes called Oaxaca cheese, as it is believed to have originated in that state. If this cheese is not available in your area, you can substitute Muenster or Monterey Jack cheese.

Queso adobera – This is a fresh cheese similar to Queso asadero or Oaxaca cheese, but is soaked in an adobo chile marinade. This marinade usually consists of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices.

Crema – Sometimes called Queso crema, this is not cheese but a heavy cream similar to crème fraiche, a soured cream that is thicker and less sour than the sour cream you may use on baked potatoes.

Food in Mexico – General Recipe and Regional Recipe

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