“A soup like this is not the work of one man. It is the result of a constantly refined tradition. There are nearly a thousand years of history in this soup.”
Willa Cather, ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ (1927)
Welcome to our August Food Issue!
Food! Is there anything more basic and necessary to each of us. I love food because I love stories – pick any ingredient, trace its journey and you will have the story of the world.
Take for instance this month’s cover of ice pops, maybe to you they are popsicles or maybe they are paletas. Most of us in Canada and the US grew up with popsicles. Foodie folklore has it that the popsicle was invented by 11-year old Frank Epperson in 1905 when he accidentally left a glass of powdered soda and water with a mixing stick in it on his porch during a cold night. It seems like such an obvious thing but we need to remember that home freezers weren’t even introduced onto the market until 1913. When Epperson’s popsicle was patented and marketed in 1923 just 35% of American homes even had electricity! The double stick popsicle most of us grew up with was introduced during the depression as a gimmick to give customers more for their money. I loved that feeling of breaking a popsicle on the edge of the counter or a doorframe- the thump thump sound is such a strong memory. The two-stick variety was discontinued in 1986 after moms complained it was too messy. Continue reading Editor’s Letter
By Brooke Gazer
One of my favorite events in our small seaside resort is the “Encuentro de Cocineros Huatulco” (meeting of cooks). On the last Sunday of each month, restaurants and a few independent chefs come together to offer a taste of what they do best. The chefs choose a different theme each month and Huatulco´s residents and visitors are invited to come and sample their creations. You could be treated to a wide selection of pastas, or you might sample tamales… and who knew there could be so many different fillings? Continue reading Encuentro de Cocineros
By Carole Reedy
Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley aren’t the only popular attractions in Peru these days. The country that boasts 3,000 potato varieties is fast becoming a food and restaurant destination. Continue reading Foodies Are Flocking To Peru: The Man Behind It All
By Jane Bauer
Hi ‘The Eye’ Readers!
I am so psyched to tell you about our new food magazine ‘Bite’! ‘The Eye’ just put out its 70th issue and over the years we have had such a great response to the articles which focus on real information by real people and not the puff-advertorial pieces we see in a lot of tourist-area magazines. We aim to explore the positive and often-overlooked aspects of Mexico and to enhance people’s appreciation of what a culturally fascinating and beautiful place this country is. Continue reading Bite Magazine
By Kary Vannice
I’m going to tell you what I hope is a shocking statistic:
In Mexico, 37% of all food produced in-country goes to waste. That equates to over 10 million tons of food each year!Let me put that into a more quantifiable and important context. That’s enough food to feed seven million Mexicans yearly.
Before you start wondering what’s wrong with Mexico, let me assure you, Mexico is not alone in this. Globally, nearly one-third of all food produced is never consumed.
“Food waste,” according to the UN, is: “losses resulting from the decision to discard food that still has value and is mainly associated with the conduct of the wholesalers and retailers, retail food services, and consumers.”
When experts calculate food waste in terms of US dollars wasted or lost, in so-called “first world” countries the number is $680 Billion! In developing countries, like Mexico, that number is less than half, $310 Billion, but still a huge number. Continue reading Food Waste
- Masa: More than just for tortillas! I love corn masa dumplings in mole de olla, the texture is similar to a matzoh ball dumpling. They are often called ‘chochoyotes’ and unlike matzoh contain a good amount of pork fat (asiento).
- Huitlacoche: While these corn smut mushrooms are often pureed to a paste and used in omelets and empanadas, my favorite way to eat them is sauteed whole and fresh, with guajillo chile and almonds. I like to serve them on toasted baguette and topped with queso fresco for a yummy appetizer. Don’t use canned huitlacoche- it will make you think you don’t like it:)
- Hoja Santa (Latin name Piper auritum): This fragrant leaf is a key ingredient in mole Amarillo, lending an anise flavor to the silky sauce. However, the leaf is also a great addition to salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce.
- Chapulines: Grasshoppers are a kitschy delicacy to try when you are in Oaxaca. They come roasted with salt and chile and are a common snack at sporting events. I like to use the chapulines in salad dressing. Blend a handful of chapulines with olive oil, honey, and salt until you get the desired consistency. Adds complex smoky and yeasty flavor to your favorite veggies.
- Nopales: This slimy cactus is incredibly versatile and healthy. For a quick immune-booster add raw nopal (spines removed) to your favorite smoothie. They are also great roasted or sauteed and added to scrambled eggs or used as a quiche or empanada filling.
Jane Bauer leads cooking classes at Chiles&Chocolate Cooking School where she shares her love of Oaxacan cooking and history.
By Deborah Van Hoewyk
The sun is going down. There’s nothing in the fridge. “I feel like Mexican,” say millions of Americans and Canadians, and their desire is readily satisfied by any number of chain restaurants offering what customers perceive to be south-of-the-border cuisine. However, when folks actually arrive in Mexico, and “Mexican” is all there is to be had, they’re often confused about what they find on their plates. Continue reading “I feel like Mexican tonight!”
This a relatively quick recipe for a Oaxacan smoked chile paste that can be used as a semi-dry rub for roasting or grilling meats, poultry, or fish. Any left-over paste can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
- 1 small-to-medium garlic bulb
- 6 smoked dried chilies, e.g., guajillos or pasillas
- ¼ pound dried shrimp
- 6 avocado leaves
- ½ cup sweet fruit vinegar (apple cider or pineapple)
- ½ cup olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- Toast the un-peeled garlic cloves on a comal (cast iron skillet is fine) over medium heat, turning frequently, until cloves are blackened slightly and the clove is soft, which will take 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the clove. Let the cloves cool, then peel.
- Preheat broiler, put chiles on a flat surface (e.g., small cookie sheet), place on top rack and broil for about 5 minutes, turning frequently. Remove and set aside.
- Move broiler rack down one level, put dried shrimp on the flat sheet, and broil for no more than 2 minutes, turning frequently. Remove and set aside.
- Toast avocado leaves on the comal over low heat for 2-3 minutes, turning once or twice—the leaves will get somewhat shiny.
Making the paste
- Put the garlic, chiles, shrimp, and avocado leaves into a food processor or blender and process until thoroughly combined.
- With the processor running, add the vinegar and enough of the oil to make a spreadable paste.
- Season with salt to taste.
The paste can be varied by adding pepitas (dry-roasted pumpkin seeds) or nuts (almonds or pecans); the paste can be extended by adding cooked black beans. Add any additional ingredients to the food processor (blender) before adding the vinegar and oil.
One way to use chintextle is to lightly coat a roasting pan or casserole with olive oil, add a layer of vertically sliced onions and put chicken thighs on top. Then thoroughly coat the chicken with the chintextle, cover and roast until chicken is just tender when pierced with a sharp knife or skewer. Remove cover and continue roasting until chintextle coating has just started to dry out.
Even though it’s usually served hot in the hot Yucatecan climate, the lime flavor keeps this soup refreshing. The lime is supposed to be “bitter lime” (citrus limetta), which you can approximate with sour (Seville) orange plus regular lime, or regular lime with grapefruit zest soaked in it. This recipe makes 6 servings.
- 9 cups chicken broth
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 scallions cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 large fresh green chile (choose your level of heat)
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 6 bitter limes juiced
- ½ whole lime
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- Crispy tortilla chips for garnish.
Making the soup
- Put the chicken broth in a stock pot and add the chicken thighs, red onion garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, thyme, and allspice to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the juice of the chicken runs clear (15 to 20 minutes).
- Remove the chicken thighs to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized strips; return to the simmering pot.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped scallions and green chile and sauté, stirring continuously, until tender (5 minutes).
- Add the chopped tomatoes and continue cooking/stirring until tomatoes are soft (5 minutes).
- Pour the vegetable mixture into the soup pot, stir, and season with salt to taste.
- When the soup returns to a simmer, add the lime juice and the half a lime. Stir again and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Remove soup from stove, take out the half-lime.
- Just before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro and sprinkle with tortilla chips.