A tiny taste of Mexico

©mylunchanddinner

Being Mexican, I am always reluctant to eat Mexican food in any place which is not my beloved country. I’ve been always like this, specially after getting sick, by the look and flavor of the food and physically in some cases. However, about two weeks ago I was craving for something that tasted or at least looked like something made back home.  Hubby was googling places to eat because we had ran out of ideas when he came across a very interesting webpage.

©mylunchanddinner

He turned the laptop to me and said “Look! What do you think?”. I was completely excited by the photos, and asked where the place was. He said it was downtown San José, and we could go there if I wanted to give it a chance.  I wasn’t even hungry, but I suddenly felt a huge whole in my stomach, so I said: Let’s go I’m starving!

©mylunchanddinner

We got to the place really fast. Los Huaraches is decorated with photos and paintings with Mexican motif. The tables are funny to watch given they have recipients where you can see some of the most common ingredients used in our cuisine: chiles, nixtamalized blue and white corn, among other things.

Now, before I move any further I have to tell you the term Mexican food is too general. Given our country is so big and every region has it’s own climate, every state has it’s own dishes. Some are similar, but have different names, and the food is extremely different if you are at the North, South, West or East. However, there are some classic things everyone nows.

©mylunchanddinner

The waitress came to say hello, and asked what we wanted to drink. My husband asked for the watermelon “agua fresca” (natural made drink), it was fresh and sweet. I ordered my favorite, tamarind. It was really good, with the sour touch of tamarind as base, but with the sweetness of sugar that is added to make it drinkable.

We then proceeded to study the menu. It had photos of some foods, which looked really homy. Hubby decided on Enchiladas Suizas, which are chicken breast tacos covered with tomatillo-cream sauce and cheese, a gringa, flour tortilla with cheese and Trompo meat (at the capital is called Pastor). Trompo meat is pork with different spices and colour that makes it look red-orange and when made correctly is super delicious. I wanted to ask for something we call Campechanas which is the term used for a taco that combines any two types of meat, but the waitress looked clueless so I decided for the big taco with Trompo and beef.

© mylunchanddinner

The order didn’t take long before it was on our table. The enchiladas were really tasty, with the tomatillo sauce having a slight lemon flavor.  It didn’t however have any cream, which made the sauce very green. We are used to slight differences, so we didn’t mind… wait Hubby didn’t mind. I tried them and they were extremely good! His gringa was really tasty, though it was also really oily. I was too happy to care, he was kind of upset. For some reason, he is not calorie conscious latelty.

As for my big taco… it looked like a burrito, which opposite to what most of you think is not a Mexican dish. Inside it contained my choice of two meats, fresh cheese, black beans, lettuce and sour cream. It was kind of weird, but the meats tasted so good that I was happy with the result.

Overall, of what we ordered the gringa was the most similar to our food. We do have to go back again to try other stuff that looked really interesting. We were very happy with the look and taste of everything, and that we found the place. The most mexican-like food I’ve ever tried.

Hope you enjoyed reading this!

© mylunchanddinner 2012

Advertisements

Are you Mexican?

It was one of those rainy days in Portland.(if you haven’t read the keeping weird post, now it’s a good time to do it!) I decided to go shopping, another of my favorite activities. I went to a couple of stores downtown. I used to love it there! I tried on about a million things, only to buy 2 blouses and some jeans. My body is helpless I thought.  I usually have a lot of trouble buying stuff, I blame it on the genetic blend that I carry… Maybe I’ll talk about this later.

I was waiting on the line to pay when one of my Portland friends called me. I answered my cel.  It was my mexican born girlfriend. Hello! Where are you? she asked. Oh I’m just shopping, go figure. I’ll be heading for lunch after this, I said.  All of this was talked in my beloved native language.. Spanish! Once done, the guy at the register said…

The Guy: Hi miss! May I ask, are you Spanish?

Whaaaaat? I though,

Me: NO! I´m Mexican!!.

The Guy: Really? he said.

Me: Yes, really.

The Guy: Are you sure?

Are you kidding me? Do you think someone will get confused about the country they were born and raised? Not to worry I didn’t say this to the guy.

Me: Yes, I´m sure. But, you know, you have me thinking, maybe I should re-read my passport and check.

I left.  When I talked to my husband that night he was laughing so hard! This was certainly not the first time someone doubted my “Mexicanity”, but never before I had been insulted by the are you sure question…

Thinking about this, the fact that many people believe in Mexico we are all yellow cheese lovers plus I feel a whole in my stomach when someone says “I have eaten real Mexican food” (once I investigate, I usually find out they  they ate some kind of junk), I decided to share a recipe with all of you. Thus, I present you with a REAL taco stuffing that is easy to make and is really tasty. This is only one of the many things that you can make tacos with. It is my grandma’s recipe with a bit of a twist of mine…

© mylunchanddinner

Picadillo de mi abuelita

**Picadillo (which is just mexican-spanish slang for really chopped)

400 grams (1 lb) of ground beef (try it to be lean and good quaility)

1/2 small chopped onion

1 garlic clove chopped

1 medium carrot cut into small squares

1 medium potato cut into small squares

4.5 oz of tomato sauce (just plain, no italian tastes!)

2 teaspoons of oil (I usually go for extra-virgin olive oil, but any will do)

salt and pepper to taste

cumin

If you are brave enough…  1 fresh jalapeño or serrano pepper chopped

If you are not too brave… 1/2 chopped green pepper

The how…

  1. Heat a large pan to medium temperature.
  2. Add the oil and immediately the onions.  Once the onions are transparent, add the chopped garlic and cook for about a minute.
  3. Place the beef in the pan, and using a wooden spoon move the meat to separate it into small pieces (this usually takes about 5 minutes of stirring and pressing, but it won´t kill you).
  4. Season with salt and pepper  and add cumin (I use about 1/4 of a teaspoon, but you can add more or less depending on your likings).
  5. Stir until the meat starts browning.  At this point, incorporate the vegetables, pepper of your choosing and the tomato sauce and season again with salt and pepper, just to taste!
  6. Cover the pan and turn the heat to the lowest point.  Cook for about 15 minutes and you are done!

You can eat picadillo by itself or you can use corn tortillas to make tacos.  In anyway eaten we usually have it with grounded beans. If you are going to add cheese to the tacos, please for the love of God, look for some asadero cheese in the grocery store! haha…Eaten with salsa everything is better! Enjoy!!

© mylunchanddinner 2012