Category Archives: August 2016

Cuitlacoche or Huitlacoche

By Julie Etra

This fungus, Ustilago maydis, which is parasitic on corn, has been considered part of the culinary heritage of Mexico since pre-Hispanic times. Cuitlacoche is the classic náhuatl (Aztec) word, Spanish-ized to huitlacoche since the Spaniards had a hard time with its pronunciation (this is reflected throughout Mexico, as various languages became mestizo-ized.) Cuitlacoche is derived from cuitlatl, which has been misinterpreted as meaning excrement, but actually means excrescence or outgrowth, comparative to a gall, and cochi, meaning sleep or sleeping. This is a good description of the parasitic fungi that grows in between and into the kernels of corn, impeding their development, leaving them ‘asleep’ and distorted. Continue reading Cuitlacoche or Huitlacoche

Taking the Mystery Out of Dried Chiles

By Brooke Gazer

Walking through a food market or any major grocery store in Mexico you are likely to find piles of dried chiles. A staple in Mexican cooking, they are rated from 1-5 on a hotness scale, 1 being mild. (Ultimately, pepper hotness scales are based on Scoville Heat Units, developed in 1912 by Wilbur Scoville, a chemist working for Parke Davis Pharmaceutical Company.) Dried chiles have a lower, slower burn than their fresh counterparts, and are perhaps sweeter. Continue reading Taking the Mystery Out of Dried Chiles

Mexican Soups: Sopas, Cremas, Caldos, But Not Sopes

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.01.39 PMBy Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Mexican soup, to folks north of the border, usually means tortilla soup, or as it is usually called in Mexico, sopa Azteca. Usually made from a rich chicken soup with pureed tomatoes and garnished with avocado and cheese cubes, cilantro, diced onions, and, of course, crisp fried tortilla strips, the exact flavors vary from cook to cook. Although it is a favorite throughout Mexico, the varieties of other soups are virtually infinite and vary from region to region and season to season. Continue reading Mexican Soups: Sopas, Cremas, Caldos, But Not Sopes

Our most brilliant writers give us… An Exciting Array of New Books for the Last Months of 2016

By Carole Reedy

An ample list of new books for year’s end highlights the very best of 21st century fiction writers: Javier Marias, T.C. Boyle, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwen, Dave Eggers, and Margaret Atwood, among others. Fans of fine literature will be emptying their pocketbooks to buy the latest selections, and the waiting lists at the libraries will be longer than those at the Sistine Chapel. Here are the highly anticipated novels, listed by publication date. Continue reading Our most brilliant writers give us… An Exciting Array of New Books for the Last Months of 2016

Rattlesnakes and Scorpions

By Kary Vannice

I’m a pescetarian. Sounds pretentious, I know. I try to avoid using the word, actually. But it is an accurate description of my personal eating habits. It means I don’t eat land animals. Or as I used to put it… “No feathers, no feet, no fur.” That was until this last January when I was faced with the invitation to eat rattlesnake. Continue reading Rattlesnakes and Scorpions

From Tex-Mex to Haute Cuisine: Snowbirds in Search of Mexican Memories

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.00.59 PMBy Deborah Van Hoewyk

We snowbirds don’t really leave Mexico behind when we migrate north—we’re always somehow looking for a little taste of what we left behind. Didn’t Marcel Proust—author of Remembrance of Things Past—say that “the smell and the taste of things” involuntarily and unpredictably brings back memories as if they were real? How better to conjure up Mexico than in the scents and savor of its food! Continue reading From Tex-Mex to Haute Cuisine: Snowbirds in Search of Mexican Memories

A Taco Is NOT Just A Taco, The Darling of the Mexican Culinary Scene

By Carole Reedy

Everyone loves a taco! Within and outside the country, it’s probably the single most recognized symbol of the republic. When Mexicans return from travel abroad, they rush to their favorite taco joint, even before arriving home. The first question asked by foreign visitors is “Where do we get the best tacos in the city?” Answer: Everywhere and anywhere. Continue reading A Taco Is NOT Just A Taco, The Darling of the Mexican Culinary Scene