Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Almost Like Being in Mexico

Last night we had heavy, but much needed, rain here.  Today is cool and drizzly, so I took a break from my gardening, and drove to the Mexican grocery store, "La Plaza", located about ten miles away on the west side of Cleveland.

I am testing out some new recipes for a Mexican dinner party that I am going to have in July.  My friend Alejandro will be coming up from Mexico at that time.  On his last visit here in October of 2014, my cousin Gail invited us to her place.  She prepared an early Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings so that Alejandro could experience our holiday feast.  It was a delicious meal, and such a kind gesture on her part.  I wanted to return the hospitality, so I have invited her and her husband to my place for a Mexican dinner while Alejandro is here.

A full Mexican dinner consists of several courses.  First there is "la sopa aguada"... the wet soup... which is like the soups that we are used to.  Second is "la sopa seca"... the dry soup... which is a rice or pasta dish.  Then comes the main course.  For that I am going to prepare my specialty, "chilaquiles".  My "chilaquiles" are not like the typical, easy to prepare dish you usually find in Mexican restaurants.  I sometimes refer to my version as "Mexican lasagna" because it consists of layers of tortillas, chicken in salsa,  Mexican "crema" (similar to our sour cream) and cheese, baked in a casserole.  Once I served it to Mexican friends, and they declared that they were "chilaquiles de lujo"... deluxe "chilaquiles".

For the first two courses, however, I wanted to try something new.  For the wet soup I am going to serve cream of "chile poblano" soup.  I found a recipe on the internet, and tried it out a couple weeks ago.  It was very good although I might have to adjust the recipe a bit.  Even though "poblanos" are a relatively mild pepper, it seems as if the ones up here are more spicy (yes, I removed the seeds and veins from the peppers).  It tasted good to me, but it might be a bit too "picante" for my guests.  So I will reduce the number of "poblanos'.

For the dry soup I wanted to try a dish that I have had in Mexico... "fideo seco al chipotle".  "Fideos" are a type of Mexican macaroni, similar to vermicelli, but shorter.  Although you can now find many Mexican food products in the larger grocery stores here, I could not find "fideos", hence the reason for my trip to the Mexican grocery store.  Yes, they had "fideos"!

Whenever I go to "La Plaza", I feel as if I am in a grocery store in Mexico City... except that it is less crowded and the aisles are wider.  And, oddly enough, you find more American products in a Mexico City store.  "La Plaza" is a specialty grocery, and most of the items sold are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.  There were a couple other "gringos" in the store, but most of the customers, and all of the staff, were Latinos, and speaking Spanish.  As I browsed the aisles I was disappointed that they no longer sell "rompope", a Mexican liqueur similar to our eggnog.   I asked the cashier, and she told me that they are now having problems importing it into the U.S.

At the back of the store are tables and a counter where you can order tacos.  So I had a lunch of three "tacos al pastor".  They weren't as good as those from my favorite "taquerías" in Mexico City, but they were tasty and more authentic than anything you would find at Taco Bell. 

Well, it's time for me to go to the kitchen and try my new recipe.  I will let you know how it turns out.

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