My very dear friend Ali, requested I write about the food in Mexico. She's a foodie, and that's one of the ways to her heart. Naturally, I agreed.
I will begin with items that are fast becoming staples in our "pantry". (This is by no means a comprehensive list.) I have begun asking the locals what this or that is, and how to prepare it. We want to eat what is locally available. Not only because it's more affordable, but Rick and I simply love discovering a culture through food. This is one of the joys of voyaging.
- Fresh tortillas from the Tortilleria. The ones we bought today, were still hot. The tortillas we buy in Canada do not compare. Period. You have two options: Corn (maiz) or flour (harina) tortillas. Corn is cheaper.. Harina is a Baja specialty in particular, but you find it everywhere. In Baja, we were also introduced to sweet tortillas, I think they're called tortillas con mantequilla (can we say buttery goodness?) Kalel made us some when we were in Bahia Tortugas.
- There are tortilla chips, and then there are totopos. In Mexico, forget tortilla chips. Totopos are delicious chips. Dip in salsa and it's a match made in heaven.
- Then there is green salsa. Yes, we can buy the same salsa in Canada. Herdez has a great green salsa. It's pretty liquid, (Mexicans tend to prefer their sauces more liquid than creamy or chunky it seems.) Green salsa has long been a staple on our boat. Of course, fresh salsa is in a different category altogether.
- Beans (frijoles) come in many forms. We're still discovering their potential. You have beans with breakfast (eggs and salsa), or with rice and meat or fish, or in quesadillas... The options are endless. A cheap, tasty protein.
- Spices. We are just beginning to include them. One is called Chili con limon, you can add it to melons, oranges, cucumbers, mangos, watermelon, papaya, jimaca, sliced avocado, apple, coconut, and pineapple. It adds a spicy, tangy flavour to fruit. The other spice we found out about is called Achiote - it is made from ground anatto seeds. Mixed with other ingredients it becomes a paste you can brush on fish, poultry, meat, etc. (Achiote is also used to make mole sauce.)
- We have just discovered chayote. A pear-shaped squash, that can be sauteed, eaten raw in a salad, or prepared as a sweet dessert. I love Chef Pikin. Here, he gives a lesson on two ways to prepare chayote.
|Flor de Jamaica|
- Agua de Jamaica - We drank it for the first time at the little quesadilla place called La Silla Roja. It's basically hibiscus tea. (You steep it in boiling water. After 5 minutes, you add a little sugar, and let it sit for 4 hours or overnight. Strain it and voila.) You can drink it hot or cold. It's lovely cold with a splash of lime. Agua de tamarindo, an earthy and tangy beverage, is very good as well. A little more labour intensive, we haven't yet prepared it ourselves. (It's made with tamarind pods.)
This is just the tip of the iceberg, I'm sure the topic will be revisited as we experiment and discover - in our own galley as well as the little taco stands we like to frequent.
Mast Update: Today on Dock 5: Sunshine, saw dust (brightwork prep), humming grinder (the scarphing has begun), cheerful conversations across boats, a midday beer (me), a rum and pineapple juice with the riff-raff across the dock (Rick), music, heat, barefoot work zone (only here...), sweat, sunglasses, dinner invite. This is the work dock. Cheaper. Noisier. Friendly.