One of Mexico Cooks!' first restaurant breakfasts of the New Year was at Lalo, where I ate these delicious huevos a la florentina (eggs with spinach) served on an English muffin and quite simply fabulous. This was the first of 2016's wonderful breakfasts at Lalo, but there were many to follow.
In February, 2016, Mexico Cooks! was inundated with numerous wonderful tours going all over Mexico, from home base in Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, to Oaxaca, to part of the State of Jalisco, and ending in March in rural Michoacán. This year, let me know where in Mexico YOU'D like to go--starting now, we've added parts of eastern Veracruz to your choices! This particular market stall, with its papel maché piggy mariachi, is a favorite joyous site along on of my tour routes.
I thought this little guy would be scared in the market's meat aisles--instead, he fell in love with a pig head! Two seconds after I snapped this picture, he leaned over and kissed its snout.
Tours with Mexico Cooks! aren't entirely about pig heads. In March 2016, we were with a group in San Miguel de Allende, visiting this extraordinary and very upscale shopping venue for home and garden decor. The goods are pricey, but if your wallet can stand it, you'll be carrying beautiful items back to your home.
During a week-long tour to Oaxaca, our group breakfasted on typical pan de yema (egg yolk bread) and bubbly Oaxacan hot chocolate, made with water in the traditional way.
While in Oaxaca, we learned to make Oaxaca-style mole verde (green mole), among other dishes, in the most generous, love-filled, best cooking class ever. This simple dish, rich with flavor, is now a staple on Mexico Cooks!' table at home. If you'd like to take this class, let me know and we'll schedule a tour in Oaxaca.
Another fantastic meal in Oaxaca included this gorgeous salsa, made in part with freshly roasted tomate verde (tomatillo, in English) and roasted tiny heirloom tomatoes. It looks good and it is way better than good. The photo makes me want to be there now.
Later in the spring, Mexico Cooks! toured with another group in rural Michoacán. One of the highlights of the trip was a comida (Mexico's main meal of the day) at the home of cocinera tradicional (traditional cook) Rosalba Morales. Rosy holds a bowl of charales (tiny lake fish) that she prepares according to her grandmother's recipe.
In May, Mexico Cooks! took the opportunity to take two groups of visitors to an exhibition titled Indumentaria y moda en México, 1940 – 2015, sponsored by Fomento Cultural Banamex, A.C. This stunning show of hand-made indigenous dress plus Mexican high fashion, accented by paintings of the period, was mounted by the extraordinary curator Ana Elena Mallet and her team. The pictured Tzotzil clothing from the mid-1930s, from a private collection, was hand spun, hand woven and hand sewn in Magdalenas, Chiapas.
This is a giant tamal called a zacahuil. I was fortunate to eat a portion of it in June 2016. The zacahuil, which in this case measured almost 1.5 meters in length, is made in many parts of Mexico. This one, from the part of Mexico called la huasteca potosina, (where the ancient Huastec indigenous people lived in the western part of the state of San Luis Potosí), is wrapped in papatla leaves and contains very coarsely-ground (quebrada) masa de maíz nixtamalizado (nixtamal-ized corn dough) that is patted out along the leaf. The women lay an entire butchered pig on the masa; the pig is then filled with whole raw chickens which are slathered with salsa, and the belly opening of the pig is closed. The meat, wrapped in the leaves, is roasted directly on the red-hot coals in a clay oven. The roasting takes approximately 10 to 14 hours. Normally the zacahuil shines as the star of any wedding, baptism, quinceañera (a girl's 15th birthday party), or any important feast. Believe me, it was jaw-dropping to see and jaw-dropping to eat.
This marvelous Spanish-language video shows the complete process of making the zacahuil from the Huasteca potosina. Even if you don't understand Spanish, you'll LOVE seeing the preparation of the giant tamal. If you are ever invited to eat a portion of a zachuil, be sure to say yes, thank you!
Next week, Mexico Cooks! invites you to come with us as we travel through the second half of 2016.
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