Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mexican Food For The Soul And Stomach

Some time ago, I received by registered mail, all the way from Mexico, a giant pictorial cookbook called 'Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook' (recipes by Susanna Palazuelos).  It was sent by a family friend who had visited India and with whom I had several enjoyable conversations on food.  This book is part of a series of 'The Beautiful Cookbooks' that run along the lines of the Time Life food books but they are less academic, more glossy and picture-filled.  This does not mean that they lack content - they are replete with information on the geography and history of a country and how these relate to its culinary trends.

This book contains a range of recipes, classic and contemporary.  It makes for good reading and even better experimenting (inevitably I cannot find several of the ingredients mentioned so I need to periodically substitute or delete some).  The style of narration is relaxed, lively with a touch of humour and the pages are filled with the colours of Mexico - vivid blues, greens, whites, yellows, browns - as much a feast for the eyes and mind as for the stomach!

I quote below some descriptions of Mexican food and drink that are mentioned in the book:

"Atole made from the treasured cacao bean was reserved only for the noblemen of Moctezuma's court, who drank it from special gold ceremonial cups.  The women  were served their atole flavoured with chia and a topping of chile.  Oaxaca is especially famed for its chocolate, which is sold in all of its markets.  It does good to pay heed to the time-proven advice "Ni amor recomenzado ni chocolate recalentado" ("Neither rekindle a love affair nor reheat chocolate")."

"Horchata is another culinary adventure, having its roots in the Arab world, where it was first made from the ground tiger nut.  Brought to the New World by the Spanish, horchata first appeared as a popular drink on the Yucatan  peninsula.  This Oxacan version uses milk instead of water and sometimes includes fruit of a local cactus for a pink colouring or a few almonds for flavour."

"The term "cocktail" is said to have originated in Mexico.  According to a widely accepted story, British naval crew used to gather to fortify themselves at a favourite tavern in Campeche.  While most liquors were drunk straight, at times, the English preferred their tot of rum mixed with other ingredients, which were then stirred with a small wooden spoon.  One day an enterprising waiter, being out of these spoons, used pieces of thin, smooth roots of a plant known as "tail of the cock" because of its peculiar shape.  The name "cock's tail" caught on and by the end of World War I these drinks were the rage of England, Europe and the U.S. nightclub set.  The best known in Mexico is the margarita, first made in a Chihuahua bar."

"Huevos "Rabo de Mestiza" - No one seems to know how it got its name, but "in rags and tatters of the daughter of a Spaniard and an Indian" is the very loose, unliteral meaning given to this hearty dish of poached eggs that dates back to the early days of the Spanish conquest."

"Jicama con Pina - This botana (snack) is a refreshing variation of the traditional Jaliscan pico de gallo ("rooster's beak") made with jicama (yam bean), oranges and chile piquin.  Since jicamas are available in the wintertime, they are a harbinger of the Christmas season.  The smallest, crispest ones are combined with candies, peanuts, tangerines, sugar cane and small toys and stuffed into pinatas."  (A pinata is a jar or pot suspended from the ceiling at festive occasions.  People take turns at being blindfolded and trying to break the pot using a stick).

2 comments:

nahidworld said...

Mexican food is a cuisine originating from Mexico. It is known for its heavy use of spices and flavorings. Mexican cuisine is a general counterpart to food, circulating around the history and other things. Mexican desserts are served after main meals. Mexican restaurants are the places that prepare the food and serve the dishes to customers. In addition, there are various Mexican food
recipes that one can follow to try replicating what the restaurants prepare. There are many Mexican drinks to consider, many of them alcoholic, because those are widely viewed as irreplaceable to the whole dining experience with this cuisine.

Daivd Lyod said...

Most of the time i prefer this type of food. Love the food here. It's fast and fresh. Their quest dip (white hot cheese sauce) is awesome with the chips n salsa. I got your all recipes and note the ingredients. Very reasonable prices. I recommend it very highly

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