Mexico teaches thehousekitchen lessons about cuisine and life

Despair not readers! thehousekitchen is still alive, it is merely taking a break, a little vacation in the wonderfully delicious country of Mexico. I’m down here in Oaxaca as many may already know and while I haven’t cooked anything down here, I’d like to share a bit of my perspective on the cuisine down here, that will undoubtedly follow me back up to Chicago in March. Not go go Rick Bayless on all y’all, but I’m about to go in. Hol’ up.

Historically, Mexico relies a lot on maize (aka corn, straight up) and that is just as evident as Lil John relying on the words ‘what’, ‘yeah’, and ‘ok.’ It’s not a bad thing, in fact, it’s quite tasty, and it serves as the starch that holds together a dish. Now, I’m a huge fan of the down-home style dishes up in the culturally rich city that is this piece. From tacos to tlayudas, you can see a myriad of ingredients that are shared among dishes. Onions, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, various peppers, various grilled meats, quesillo (Oaxacan cheese) and beans can be put on soft, warm corn tortillas, to totopos, to larger crispy tortillas for hearty tlayudas. Just as with any native cuisine, much of the base ingredients don’t change from dish to dish, and with Oaxacan food, it doesn’t matter at all.

Last night Wing’s Army and I headed to Super Tortas Gigantes (Super Giant Sandwiches) for some high quality goodness at barato prices. The sandwich I ordered had ham, quesillo, bacon, tomatoes, avocado, and jalepeños all on a crusty, fluffy baguette. Our favorite restaurant El Pastorcito whips up tacos al pastor that will baffle the mind with their taste. A thin shaving of pineapple compliments cilantro and onions sitting atop shwarma style cooked pork. As they say here in Oaxaca “Me likey mucho”.

Variety is the spice of life, but so are spices. If you order a beer a la michelada then get ready for a kick in the face. I ordered one on accident, although I never uttered the word michelada, the waiter brought me one anyway. I decided to try it. It’s…an acquired taste. They put lime and chili powder at the bottom of your glass along with ice and poor the beer in. Then the rim is line with chili powder. It’s an experience to say the least. It wasn’t bad, but I probably won’t order it again because I enjoy the natural refreshing sensation of a Mexican beer. Every day my anfitriona (host mom) asks me if I want more salsa and is surprised that I don’t want the spiciest stuff she puts out on the table, the stuff that causes her to get up from the table coughing because it’s so spicy.

Places like the ones mentioned above will definitely have influence in my cooking once thehousekitchen is back in thehousekitchen. One thing that I want to get across is how good quesillo is. It’s like if you took Mozzarella and then slapped it in the face and said “Levantate!”. It melts beautifully, it goes with anything sweet or savory, and it pulls apart easier than a present on Christmas morning. I need to find a good method of obtaining it whence I return.

 

peace ‘n luv,

willie

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