December 18, 2009

Under the Mexican Influence

I arrived in San Miguel de Allende just in time for Day of the Dead celebrations. I came with the intention of staying two months, but I just can't bring myself to leave as planned. You'll hear this same tune from so many others; this place just gets under your skin. San Miguel has stolen my heart.

I was able to find myself a small apartment. Humble, but it has a kitchen so I have been buying frutas y verduras at the mercado and tortillas at the tortilleria. I have a little experience with Mexican food-- authentic Mexican-- thanks to a basic cookbook by Diana Kennedy, the "grand-dame" of Mexican cuisine. I have made my own tortillas for years from masa seca-- not as good as nixtamal, which I am soon to find out firsthand, but almost as good as those from the local tortilleria. I am eager to explore other ingredients.
Roasting poblanos and making rajas con crema is my first venture. Simple-- just roast, sweat, peel and seed the peppers, saute some onions and garlic (not sure garlic is authentic in this dish) and add some acuyo (also known as hoja sante) a large heart shaped herbal leaf which my new friend Ingalora has growing aplenty in her garden. It has somewhat anise-like flavor, with a hint of mint. It infuses the crema with a lovely scent and gives the mild heat of the poblanos an unusual complexity. I chopped a tomato into the sauce for a bit of colour ( again, not sure if this is authentic, but I'm Canadian, and not obliged to adhere to "tradition"- rather, enjoying the influence and going my own way with it!)
This happened to be my birthday lunch, celebrating 40some years of life and 12 days wonderful days in Mexico. Que padre!

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