28 Mar 2008
Title scene: Show making up quesadillas at Flores home
Then … Arline with her on camera comments
“Oh, que rica! … Oh, it is delicious!! The food in Mexico is different than the food in the United States. It tastes different. … The ingredients are different. … ‘The preparation is different. … Eating the tasty dishes is also done in a different way
Join us and see what you have been missing. The food here is not Taco Bell and it is not “Tex-Mex”. This is the real “Mex-Mex” so … come expecting to enjoy every mouthful.
Soup is simmering on the stove at a neighborhood shop. Next-door they are making tortillas that will be sold to those living nearby. Onions, peppers, and beans are ready for toppings on the tortillas.
After a trip to the market, gorditas may be made at home with a tortilla, beans, cheese, onions, and sauce. A tasty meal in themselves, gorditas may also be purchased quickly along the street. At this sidewalk grill, beef, chicken, and pork are cooking for all to see. The vendor is happy to wrap up your choice. Other good foods will tempt your taste buds as you pass. Notice the different soups, potato cakes, and a shrimp sauce Each potato cake is carefully molded by hand. A deep fat fryer is often used in food preparation. Fresh chicken is cut to order should you need to take some home for a meal.
Puebla is famous for molé poblano although molé is enjoyed throughout Mexico. Traditional molé is made up of chocolate, cinnamon, several spices, herbs, almonds and other condiments and then cooked for three days.
Walking in front of a restaurant downtown, it is common to see thin layers of tightly wrapped beef slowing rotating on a vertical spit. This young man shaves off servings to be wrapped in hot corn tortillas, making the real taco for the fortunate patrons eagerly awaiting their meal inside.
Need a fast breakfast? Breakfast stops offer a variety of foods and drinks including fresh orange juice … squeezed on the spot … a wonderful treat that only takes a few minutes at small tables set up beside the main roads.
A visit to a local market allows shoppers to find most everything they need. To the Mexicans, cactus leaves, called “nopales”, are very good. Prickly Pear cactus is used as a filler vegetable in main dishes, grilled as a side dish, or cut up with tomatoes and onions as a delicious cold salad. They may also be served as the main dish themselves; … but first the spines must be shaved off. They can be bought by the leaf or already cut up.
Going further into the market, vegetables and fruit are displayed for customers to select the items they need..
A lower cost alternative for vegetables is to shop at one of the roadside areas where over ripe produce is sold at a savings.
It is an interesting experience for an American to watch the various ways that tortillas are made. From a very small operation with hand and foot-operated machinery to electric powered larger machines, tortillas roll off the assembly line by the hundreds. This staple of the Mexican diet is a “must have” part of daily meals. Many are made with flour, but the tortillerias use only corn. Tortillas are readily available at neighborhood stores, the market, or by home delivery. Most everyone buys them fresh daily.
At this stand, Oaxaca cheese, … a white string cheese originated in Oaxaca … is sold either grated, in individually wrapped portions, or cut to your order. Notice the stacks of packaged tortillas.
A pig head is ready for purchase as well as other cuts of pork. Big vats are used to render the fat into lard. This butcher shop has whole chickens. Others sell chicken feet and gizzards. Next door, … in another meat market, … the butcher is happy to oblige those who wish a special cut of beef, at no extra cost.
At another spot in the market, fish is for sale that, … if desired, … is freshly cut, cleaned and filleted. Nearby dried fish is available as well.
Look at the large array of dried chilies in this store! Chili peppers are another staple of the Mexican diet and food is just not good without their inclusion. Notice the other varieties of dried foods such as small fish, corn, and beans available for convenient storage. Since eggs are not refrigerated in this area, they are stacked among the dried foods.
Upon arrival, guests in this home are served “horchata”, … a cinnamon and rice milk drink; … and jamaica, … a hibiscus flower tea. Coming next are “chalupas”, … made up of tortillas covered with sauce, pork, and onion. The main course of soup, called “pozole” (pah sole ee), is set out on the table and assembling instructions given. Beginning with an individual bowl of the base of chicken or pork broth cooked with hominy and spices, guests add chopped radishes, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, ground hot pepper, squeeze half a lime over the whole mixture, and, … finally, … add more hot pepper
This room … with its dirt floor … is filled with good food and fellowship. Our hostess served us a stew. The beef and spices had been simmering on the stove for some time making it very tender. Small whole white potatoes, pieces of corn on the cob, and cut up nopales were added to the beef and broth. Fresh tortillas were also served. As guests, we brought a carrot cake for dessert. What a delightful time we had enjoying the good food and the thoughtfulness of Mario, Lourdes and their three children.
If you are hungry for American food, do not despair. “Burger King” and “McDonalds” have found their way here. At the huge modern Angelopolis (an-hel-ahp oh lis) Mall, a food court has a wide variety of Mexican and American dishes. People of all ages enjoy the food. Restaurants, small and large, offer drinks, breakfast, snacks or a full meal.
The Flores family has operated their small restaurant and tortilleria for 15 years. One side of the room is filled with a huge grill and tortilla press. A large table is close by where fresh quesadillas and gorditas are served. Your choice of “atole”, a warm drink made from corn, or a soft drink accompanies the meal. Grandmother tells us that she taught her daughter and three granddaughters to operate this small business in their home. Watching the ladies work is enjoyable in itself. Each quietly does her job. Mom has the “masa” or cornmeal dough “setting” in a large container until it is the right consistency. When it is ready, she or one of her daughters takes some of the dough over to the tortilla press, … squeezes off just the right amount, … places it in the press, … uses her foot to operate the machine … and quickly has a perfect tortilla to place on the hot grill. Another daughter helps in making sure that the grill is ready for the tortillas. When the tortilla is on the grill, sliced mushrooms, Oaxaca cheese, an herb leaf only found here, a little salt, and a special sauce are placed on one half. The tortilla is folded turned as it cooks. The result is a scrumptious quesadilla with a taste all its own. When making gorditas, a spoonful of beans is placed in the tortilla dough before pressing. In addition to the restaurant, neighborhood people come here to buy tortillas. This small shop sells hundreds of tortillas a day. Guests are treated with warmth and care and your visit to Puebla will not be complete without meeting the Flores family and tasting their excellent food.
About 5 hours from Puebla and high in the Sierra Madre Mountains is the town of Huautla de Jimenez. A visit to the market in this town is a great experience. In this city, … crowded with people and vehicles, … are stands set up along the side of the road. In many stands, vendors sell peppers and vegetables. The Mazateco people of the area buy and sell other items here as well. Unlike the markets in Puebla, few vendors are set up to sell already prepared food. Most choose to bring their own food when coming here for a day of shopping.
Sweet rolls, …freshly made at a small bakery, … are very tempting. Grinding a coarse powered sugar, this boy is getting it ready to make a glaze to go on the hot bread. Preparing the dough, rolling, cutting and then placing in the big wood fired oven for baking is a long process. The racks of cooked pastries will be delivered for sale to restaurants and street vendors.
A dinner at the trout farm is a must when visiting the village of San Antonio. Our gracious hosts own the trout farm on the edge of town. Manuel and Magdalena have a restaurant in their home as well. The trout are caught, cleaned and readied for cooking. The sides are cut to allow the spices to better flavor the fish. In the kitchen, Magdalena also dips the fish in a salsa before spreading sauce on foil, adding some herb leaves and placing the whole trout on the foil. Sliced onion is spread on the trout, more sauce is added, the foil is sealed around the trout and it is placed in a heavy pan for cooking. While the trout is cooking, sauces are made for other dishes. Time and effort are necessary to make a serving of these small peas. This type of “pea” comes off a tree. Some grow it for a cash crop and it is readily available in the market. Meanwhile, out on the covered porch we are seated at a long table. The aroma coming from the kitchen has everyone’s mouth watering. When the moment arrived to open the foil, we all agreed that the trout looked wonderful. Tasting was even better!
The food in Mexico is indeed delicious but … more important … is the time spent around the table with Mexicans and others while enjoying the food.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the area around Puebla, Mexico and enjoy the food and fellowship. You too will exclaim, “Oh, que rica!”
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