In December 2009, Josh and I learned to cook in Mexico. Here's the latest installment of our story.
We arrived at our vacation destination not at 7pm on Christmas, as planned, but around 1:30am December 27th, thanks to Aeromexico. Well-fed and relieved to have arrived, we drifted off into a deep sleep, with an alarm for 8:30 and a 9:00 start time. For some reason, Maria (Jon and Estela's household helper) brought coffee to our room at 6:30 in the morning, so we thanked her and went back to sleep. Just half an hour later, Jon came in to tell us that breakfast was served - turns out in our exhaustion we'd forgotten to change the time zone on our phones. WHOOPS!
Still, everyone was quite forgiving. We beat feet to the outdoor breakfast table, not knowing what to expect. Here's what greeted us:Ham and cheese between two tortillas, with salsa verde, avocado, onion, and kiwi on the side. YUM.
But before long, eating gave way to cooking (with more eating to come, of course). We walked in to the kitchen to see an incredible spread laid out for us. It was unbelievably beautiful and inviting - and have I mentioned lately that you should visit www.mexicanhomecooking.com? Cause you should. Or you can find them on Facebook. Here's what's in store:
I'm sorry my camera and my photography skills aren't better, because that kitchen is so gorgeous and the photos don't do it justice.
On to the food! We made seven or eight recipes every day, and the first day included a couple really fun ones. We began with nopalitos, which are cactus leaves grown right on the property. They are spiny and irritating, but delicious and healthy to eat.
You start by laying a knife flat against the leaf and moving it from side to side to remove the spines, being careful to impale each of your fingers individually with the barbs. Okay, just kidding - but I recommend buying them cleaned. We made ensalada and sopa de nopalitos before moving on to the heavy lifting.
When was the last time you cooked a squash blossom? We used them several times, and lamented the, you know, seasons of Washington - gorgeous, floral produce is available year-round in Tlaxcala.
Next up? Tortas de Papas con Espinaca, or potato pancakes with spinach. Only instead of spinach we used shrimp! FLEXIBILITY, people.
Jon taught us the prep techniques while Estela ran the frying, charring, and sauteeing station at the stove. Oh, and by the way, the torta recipe is available for free on the website!
On day one, we also made an almond chicken dish with tortillas blended right into the sauce, and mushroom soup, and these incredible fried flour dough cakes with vanilla sugar pressed into them. We ate lunch with our compadres and co-students - Tim and Athena from Santa Barbara, and Robin and Diane from Sitka, Alaska - before heading out to the Xochitecatl and Cacaxtla archaeological sites for the afternoon. And at the rate I've been posting these stories, you should hear about that in midsummer.