When I first started this blog I was a staunch traditionalist when it came to Mexican food and cooking. I believed that to really understand it I had to use purely classic recipes and I held my nose up to those who strayed from lo tradicional. But these days, I’m over it. While I still love traditional recipes, I no longer have qualms about deviating from strictly classic Mexican fare. At the end of the day, the adjective traditional, as we apply it to Mexican cuisine, is very relative. Given the history of colonization and migration and the addition of new ingredientes, recipes and techniques over time, it’s really hard to define what´s truly traditional and what’s not. These days I prefer to embrace new interpretations of recipes and if they’re tasty, that’s really what most important.
Given that corn is the base of Mexican food it is not surprising that there are a variety of corn inspired desserts. Mexican cornbread aka pan de elote should not be confused with the savory American version. It’s prepared with fresh corn, is sweet and moist and can sometimes even have a custard like texture. Usually you’ll find women selling homemade palm sized cakes or thick triangular slices outside markets for 15 to 20 pesos a piece.
Huevos divorciados are yet another example of the the array of delicious and creative Mexican egg dishes. This breakfast gets it’s peculiar, but amazing name because the eggs are separated by refried beans and bathed in red and green salsas. It’s a classic breakfast or brunch option throughout Mexico City restaurants and fondas and while it may not be listed on the menu, usually if there is the option to order huevos al gusto that includes huevos divorciados.
Horchata is a sweet, rich agua fresca commonly prepared throughout Mexico. It was brought to Mexico by the Spanish and originates from Valencia, Spain where it was prepared with chufa or tiger nuts. While horchata has become known as a typically Mexican beverage the drink is prepared in various European countries as well as Central and South America and can be prepared with a base of barely, sesame seeds, cantaloupe seeds and/ fresh fruit. The most common version of Mexican horchata is made with rice and cinnamon.
Pay de limón is a very common dessert in Mexico. It reminds me of a 1950´s style cake that my Grandma Frances would have made. She loved making recipes with “secret” ingredients and using all sorts of canned products to cook, as did many home cooks at the time. Basically, all of the ingredients for this recipe can be bought at your local corner store, except maybe the limes. In the States these types of pies or cakes are referred to as icebox cakes and became popular during World War I because they were easy and cheap to prepare, required almost no fresh ingredients and no baking!
Sopa seca or literally translated to as dry soup is another one of my favorite Mexican comfort food dishes. I was intrigued by the dish initially because I didn’t understand what dry soup was supposed to mean, but the name made more sense once I figured out how sopa seca is prepared. The noodles are fried in oil, added to a spicy roasted tomato sauce and then baked or cooked over low heat until the noodles have absorbed the liquid.
Today is my Momma’s 69th birthday so I decided to whip her up some rajas con crema. I’m in Mexico City and she’s in Chicago, so she won’t actually get to eat them but it’s the thought that counts right? In all seriousness, my mother looooooves this dish so it always reminds me of her. The times I’ve made it back home in Chicago she’s cleaned the dish. So here’s to my Mom, the woman who instilled in me my passion for food and cooking. I love you lots and am wishing you a very happy birthday.