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Will the Real Taco Please Step Forward

 

Mexican food in the U.S. is one of the least known ethnic foods we eat. We don’t know much about it beyond tacos, burritos, and nachos. The blame goes to our eat first ask questions later harried lifestyle. We seldom ask, is that all there is to Mexican food”? My eyes were first opened back in the 1980’s when I bought a book of Mexican recipes that were nothing like the foods I had eaten for years at Mexican restaurants in Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska. These were bold new dishes with fish, and turkey in them. Chiles with names I had never heard of frequented the pages. It was so intimidating to find some of the ingredients I never cooked a single recipe from the book and lost it amongst the many moves that followed over the years. That cookbook did however open my eyes to a different aspect of Mexican food.

Baltimore is really my first experience with a wider range of Mexican dishes. Two restaurants stand out in this food voyage of discovery. The first was Fiesta Mexicana that featured street foods of Mexico City. Beef tongue tacos, strange and delicious sandwiches called tortas, amazing guacamole, and the best enchiladas I have ever had. Then came R&R Taqueria that was featured on the Diners, Dives and Drive Ins show. This was the first place I ate Mexican lamb. They slow cook a whole lamb in onions, garlic and spices then use it in taco that only costs $2.19! They also put it in other dishes like huaraches, and tortas.  I was amazed at the taste and quality of their food. They have the best beef tongue tacos I have ever had. The tilapia and shrimp dishes were amazing too. This is stuff that you just didn’t see in most Mexican restaurants up until the 1990’s in most places. It seems that slowly but surely the true variety of Mexican Cuisine is showing up on American menus and it’s about time.

While browsing my library a couple days ago I spied Simple Food, Big Flavor by Aaron Sanchez. I decided right then and there I was going in search of a wider view of Mexican food and see if I could find a healthier version. Last night I dove into that book and Rosa’s New Mexican Table, by Roberto Santibanez to come up with the following dinner. I started by making Habenero Love from Simple Food, Big Flavor. It’s a fluffy salsa mostly made from bell peppers,(red and yellow), onion and yes, habenero. It’s a special salsa that is not too hot, but full of flavor. I doubled the amount of habeneros which made the heat just about right for me. The next dish I tackled was Mushroom Quesadillas that I turned into soft tacos, but other than that I followed the recipe. I rounded it off with a Mexican Red Rice recipe I found posted on a food blog. It made for a wonderful meal that many a vegetarian would love. So my challenge to you is to explore the internet and your library to open up the possibilities of cooking quick and healthy Mexican food in your home. I think you are going to love it.

Mushroom Tacos, Mexican Red Rice

Mushroom Tacos, Mexican Red Rice

 

 

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