In January 2014, Mexico Cooks! spent week in Oaxaca. One afternoon, three of us wolfed down a kilo of carne asada (grilled thinly sliced beef) plus various side dishes in the devilishly wonderful Pasillo de Humo inside Mercado 20 de Noviembre in the state capital.
In Zaachila, Oaxaca, we visited an outdoor market. These jitomates riñon (kidney shaped tomatoes) are all but unknown outside the state. Nonetheless, this tomato is identical in all but size to the coeurs-de-boeuf tomato in France. Exported from Mexico to France in the 1840s, the jitomate riñon has evolved into an icon in that faraway country.
France's coeurs-de-boeuf tomatoes have evolved to a fruit much larger than its Mexican ancestor. These French tomatoes were at the Marché d'Aligre in Paris, 2012.
Invited to attend Mesamérica's third annual big-deal festival of gastronomy--held just around the corner from our home in Mexico City--we spent time backstage interviewing illustrious chefs and eating as many gringas (flour tortillas, lightly toasted and piled with melting cheese, carne de cerdo al pastor [marinated pork meat roasted to order on a vertical spit], pineapple, cilantro, and guacamole) as we could.
Just in case you've never seen the trompo (rotating meat-filled vertical spit) for tacos al pastor and gringas, here's one we saw in Mexico City's Centro Histórico. As customers order, the pastorero (cook) turns the spit so that the meat roasts. See the gas fire behind the meat? As the outer edges of the pork sizzle and crisp, the pastorero flicks small slices of the meat into a lightly grilled corn tortilla. Then he uses a long knife to flip a slice of roasted pineapple into your taco. Trust me, you haven't lived till you've eaten tacos al pastor on one of Mexico City's nearly 1800 streets.
Early in 2014, we were invited to have cena (late supper) with the owners of Mexico City's Restaurant Palominos, which specializes in Sonoran beef, some of the finest in the world. Our friend Ricardo is gnawing the bone of an enormous Sonoran beef cut called "tomahawk". Eight of us ate until we could literally not eat another bite--be sure to take a look at the restaurant website to see the menu. We ate at least one of everything!
We admit that we had not eaten Spanish chiles padrón until 2014, and we further admit that now we are addicted to them. Quickly fry a dozen or so of these very mildly spicy, sweet and tender small chiles until the skin blisters a bit. I use a heavy skillet and two tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Then pop a chile in your mouth, pulling off the stem between your teeth and discarding it. I bet you can't eat just one!
2014 was otherwise known as "The Year of Jing Teng". Mexico Cooks! has taken countless groups for guided tours of this restaurant's menu, where we eat Hong Kong style dim sum (Chinese dumplings) and other delicious items. The dish in the photograph is Jing Teng-style Singapore noodles with chicken, shrimp, and roast pork.
Mercado Roma, an upscale market with enormous appeal to twenty-something hipsters and foodies with plenty of pocket money, opened its doors in trendy Colonia Roma Sur in 2014.
As in every year since we moved to Mexico City, I spent a lot of time in the state of Michoacán. Here's a fish dish bobbing with chiles manzano, cooking over a wood fire at the 12th Encuentro de Cocineras Tradicionales de Michoacán (Festival of Michoacán's Traditional Cooks), October 2014.
Michoacán's corundas (pyramid-shaped tamales steamed in corn leaves) as served at a press conference for an event in Mexico City.
We were back in Oaxaca in September 2014, where we loved this wheelbarrow filled with mamey, sweet and tropical. The mamey, sold all over Mexico, is about 6" to 7" long and 3" across the midpoint. It's brown and slightly fuzzy on the outside; the soft, ripe flesh is the brilliant red-orange color in the photo. Eat it with a spoon or out of hand, or blend it into your morning licuado (smoothy); the flavor is a little like a baked sweet potato.
Thanksgiving turkey, delivered by bicycle! This fresh-never-frozen bird weighed in at about 22 pounds and the deliveryman said he had five just like it in the red basket. This particular turkey was destined for our neighbor's oven; the one he delivered to us weighed a bit more than 13 kilos. That's 28.5 pounds, for the metrically challenged.
Imelda in a pensive mood. Purépecha child, 2014.
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