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Stuff Mexicans Like #20: La Gelatina (Jello)

10 Dec

 

Once considered (by me) to be only a special treat for extended hospital stays, Jello turns out to be the staple dessert in México. Planning a party in which Mexicans will be invited?  Your boss is coming for dinner? Someone getting married? There is only one dish that must always be present if you want to impress your Northern Latino visitors: Gelatin & Gelatin-based products.

Mexicans are so fond of Jello and the like that in Mexico one may find Gelatinerías (Jello stores) in nearly every city. Want something more fancy? Add fruit. Looking for sophistication? Pour a bit of Rompope on top. Creativity is called for? Think colorful layers. There is no end to the possibilities when gelatin is involved. Where United Statesians & Canadians may serve ice cream with each slice of cake, Mexicans serve….guess what?! Jello!

If you are watching your sugar intake due to your Diabetes or Gastritis (approximately 5 out of 5 Mexicans suffers from one or both at the same time during their lifetime), then you may want to substitute barbacoa (sheep cooked in a pit covered in Agave leaves), menudo (cow stomach lining stew), or carnitas (deep fried pork parts served with corn tortillas) in place of your delicious gelatina. All three are Mexican favorites and have more or less the same consistency as Jello.
Happy fiestas!

Mexican alternatives to gelatina that achieve the same effect in the mouth:

Barbacoa (sheep cooked under the Agave cactus in a pit) All Mexican mouths are watering at the sight of this image. 🙂

Menudo (Cow stomach lining in a spicy stew) Mmmm! Perfect for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast.

Carnitas (deep fried pork parts) I can taste the jellowy goodness now!

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Stuff Mexicans Like #18: Whiskey, Tequila, & Tecate

2 Jun

 There are certain unfallible truths that all Mexicans hold to be self-evident: La Virgen de Guadalupe is everything. Family always comes first. Everything is better with limon and chile. Futbol (soccer) is the only real sport. Seat belts are overrated. Real men drink Tecate beer.

While Corona maintains a cult-following in the states as well as among those in Mexico who do not have access to Tecate or are on a Mega Caguama budget (pronounced cahWAHmah; the Mega Caguama costs only $24 pesos for your giant 1.2 liter brown bottle), everyone knows Tecate is the only option for true red-blooded, cock-fighting, mariachi-singing Mexicans.

El Wiski

Whiskey (pronounced WEE-ski for those of you trying to improve your espanol), is the standard drink of all fresas (literally strawberries, fresa  refers to snobby, money-hungry, high-society Mexicans). Whiskey is synonymous for wealth, prestige, and power in Mexican society. A bottle or 16 are bought for the whole fresa table at upscale night clubs, like our own Mint, on Mesones here in SMA. Wiski is normally enjoyed with mineral water on the rocas or with la coca (see SML #12: La Coca).

El Tequila

Tequila, the staple beverage of Mexico made from the agave plant in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, is classic. Timeless. Mexicans abroad who want to publicize their Mexican pride drink Tequila. Wealthy high-class Mexicans drink Tequila. Poor Mexicans and nacos (low-class, uneducated Mexicans) drink Tequila. Housewives drink Tequila. 12 year-old boys drink Tequila. Singer/activist, Mexi-Tica, Chavela Vargas, reportedly drank at least one shot of Tequila everyday.

Malinchistas (sell-outs)

Many of my Mexican male friends, however, claim that Tequila makes them bravo (aggressive/violent), thus the standard replacement beverage: wiski. I don’t buy it though. When I hear the bravo argument, I interpret it as, “I have shame because I am Mexican but prefer to drink a foreign alcoholic beverage over my country’s own specialty:Tequila. The real reason I prefer Johnie Walker to Don Julio is because I am Malinchista.” (Malinchista refers to a Mexican who prefers a foreign culture over his or her own, usually due to an inferiority complex. The root word is Malinche, the Spanish name of the beautiful Aztec lover of Cortez and original sell-out/second mother of the Mexican race. She is the root of the famed Mexican word Chingada, the violated one)

Tequila is usually taken straight with sal y limon (salt & lime). It is sipped like tea, not downed into a greedy open throat, like some of my paisanos (fellow countrymen) are so fond of while on vacation in Cabo. Tequila is also popular in margaritas and palomas. Literally dove, a paloma is tequila with lime, salt, and grapefruit flavored soda, like Squirt, (or Esqueert, for those of you who are improving your espanol). Lastly, no visit to Mexico is complete without experiencing la bandera. La bandera (the flag) consists of a red, white, and green shot, just one of many drinks and recipes representing Mexican pride. In this case, you need a shot of white Tequila, a shot of fresh squeezed lime juice, and a shot of spicy bloody-mary mix. Don’t forget the salt. You take a sip of each, swirl them in your mouth, and swallow. Repeat. Yum! 

Top Shelf Tequilas

While Patron is the king of top-shelf Tequila where I come from in the states, Don Julio reigns south of the border. “Patron who?” my Mexican friends asked me when I first mentioned the big time label. Patron is a nobody in Mexico. Opening a bottle of Patron at a real Mexican fiesta would be like busting out the Taco Bell at Doña Maria’s rancho. It is not the same as the original. Not even close.

How much is too much?

“No menos de tres, no mas de seis” (no less than 3, no more than 6) is the conventional Mexican wisdom. I find, however, that this little gem of advice is only used for women, as men drink no less than 12, no more than 22. Double A, as Mexicans call it, is also quite popular for those who don’t know when to say when. This binge drinking is not, however, at all related to indigenous Mexican societies. Though Tequila was well-known and cultivated, it was punishable by death to get inebriated in Aztec culture. It was the benditos españoles (blessed Spanish) no less, who brought with them the love of excess and el machismo to the New World.

Want to get around a Mexican’s extreme manners (see SML #3: Manners) and hear what he or she really thinks? Offer him or her a drink or 5 of Wiski, Tequila, or Tecate. Los niños y los borrachos siempre dicen la verdad.”  (Children and drunks always tell the truth.) Or so goes the Mexican proverb anyway.

Salud!

Stuff Mexicans Like #7: Chile y Limón (Lime & spicy chile powder/salsa)

20 May
Mexicans, like Italians, are known for being very passionate about food, among other things. While Italian food is rich and creamy, Mexican food is known for its vibrant flavors exploding in your mouth. Two signature sabores that complement a great deal of Mexican cuisine are: the tangy lime combined with the spicy chile. After all, who doesn’t want chile y limón on their potato chips and popcorn?
Dishes & Drinks
Some common Mexican dishes and drinks that regularly receive a generous squeeze of lime and a healthy shaking or squirt of chile are as follows:
  • all fresh fruit & veggies (canteloupe, mango, apple, orange, cucumber, banana, jícama, carrots, elote (corn), etc.)
  • popcorn
  • all nuts
  • potato chips
  • fish and all seafood dishes
  • tacos of any kind
  • taquitos
  • gorditas
  • tostadas of any kind
  • potatoes cooked any way
  • guacamole
  • chicharón
  • quesadillas
  • all soups and caldos (broths/stews)
  • salads of all kinds (fruit or vegetable)
  • rice
  • chicken and all meat products
  • beans of all kinds
  • tortillas
  • totopos (tortilla chips)
  • all tequila based beverages
  • beer of any kind (michelada)
  • juice of any kind (vegetable or fruit)
  • alcohol of any kind (except creamy)
  • anything at all bland and possibly edible