My experience with Mexican food started when a Tex Mex diner opened to big fanfare in Milan many years ago. Other than that bland fare and a brief introduction provided by a trip to Mexico (it was during my salad days so I lived on cheese quesadillas and beans for three weeks), my palate wasn’t trained in the Latin flavor combinations. All that changed when I started working in a professional kitchen – most restaurants in LA, no matter what kind of food is served, employ Latinos who have become skilled at preparing sushi, a mean carbonara and wienerschnitzel. But, like every culture, the food they crave and go back to over and over again, is their own.
Early in the morning, I would notice glasses of a pale pink drink being passed around until, one day, I was offered some and was told it called “liquado”, a smoothie of sort, made with milk and strawberries. Over the last 6 years, I have become an expert at deciphering the different Mexican cuisines, from Oaxaca to the Yucatan, I tasted Salvadorean pupusas and have been initiated in the art of tortilla making. I mastered enough of the basics to being able to serve a decent tacos dinner in front of the NBA Finals (Boston folks, you are currently banned from this blog) although I would really love to learn how to make tamales, which require a lot of patience.
I also discovered that chipotle, a smoke dried jalapeno pepper, is one of my favourite things in the world and I would be happy to add it to pretty much anything – pizza excluded. I particularly love chipotle salsa or pico de gallo, the recipe of which I am sharing here. Add chips, beer and a good game tonight. Fingers crossed.
CHIPOTLE PICO DE GALLO
1C Tomatoes, just ripe, diced small
4 ts Red onion
1/2 ts Red wine vinegar
Canned chipotle to taste, minced (from 1/4 to 1/2 can depending on your tolerance for spiciness)
Mix everything together and serve. I abhor cilantro and avoid it all costs but the original recipe would call for chopped cilantro, about 1/2 T to 1 T.