Dinner in Mexico

Part of our around the world trip involves food. That means that we'll have one dinner based on the food of the country we're studying. Since we are currently in Mexico, we had Mexican food tonight. As I was planning I realized this would not make tonight's dinner any more special than any other night when we have Mexican food. (I grew up in Arizona. I make a lot of Mexican food.) So I wanted to find other options from our usual taco, tostada, rice, bean, enchilada, albondiga soup, mole meals. When I was doing all my initial research, I came across a book series written for children about cooking foods from different countries. They looked interesting and possibly good resources, as they contained foods out of the typical range. A cookbook is only as good as its recipes, though, and so I was reserving judgement until I had actually made a recipe from one of them.

When I flipped through The Cooking of Mexico by Matthew Locricchio, there were the standard recipes you would expect to find, but there were also a couple of different ones. Since most of my people love shrimp, I decided to treat them to camarones al pipian, otherwise known as shrimp in pumpkin seed sauce. It went together pretty easily, but more importantly, nearly everyone loved it and ate it up. I served some yellow rice along side as well as some fresh corn tortillas that my new favorite grocery store makes in-house.

But we needed something else to go along with the shrimp. One of the folk/fairy tales we will be reading this coming week is Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition adapted by Jewell Reinhart Coburn. In the story, Domitila makes nopales, otherwise known as prickly pear cactus... they are the pads, not the fruit of the cactus. Now, I grew up surrounded by prickly pear cactus, and had eaten jelly made from the fruit, but had never eaten the pads, so I was intrigued. While my grocery store does carry fresh nopales, I decided to go the easier way and by the already prepared jarred version. I turned them into a salad with onion, chiles, red peppers, and tomatoes, with some avocado and queso fresco on top, with some lime juice squeezed over all. It looked good, but I had no idea if the masses would like it. They did. In fact, there was very little left. I chose to make a sauteed version tonight, but more common it seems is to leave all the vegetables raw. It would be a great summer salad, and will definitely be added into our meal menus.

(Picture complement of TM)

We haven't read the Cinderella story yet; that comes next week. But when we do, everyone will have a very good idea of what food the story is talking about. I always go back and forth as to what the best order is for something like this. Is it better to read about it first, and then experience it, or vice versa? In this case, we've done the experience first.


Anonymous said…
two cents: I think reading about it first is better because when they actually get to eat/make it it's more special... kind of like meeting a celebrity. If you just meet them, it's cool. But if you know who they are or read about them first it's even cooler!

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