Fast Slow Food

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately.  I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately. I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Our philosophy

 

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.

 

Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

 

We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.

I  used to be a serious foodie, but after years of meals that required days of preparation, dinners out made from difficult to pronounce ingredients, let alone state their country of origin, my tongue numbed. The finest meal ceased to please; I’d had too much of a good thing.

I cleansed my palate with simplicity.  A tortilla with lime and salt. A potato baked with an egg in it, the creamy yolk stirred into its steaming flesh.

This is one of my favorite simple, fast food recipes, and I think, the best way to eat chicharron.

Chicarron Tacos vsvevg.com

Chicharron Taco

Chicharron

Tortilla

Salsa(I like salsa fresca)

Avocado

Mush a slice of avocado in a warm tortilla, top with a few pieces of chicharron and salsa. This is the hard part–wait for about a minute, just enough for the chicharron to absorb the salsa a little, but not so long the tortilla gets cold. Munch, make another.

 

My chicharron came courtesy of my friend George Anna Clark’s farm, Rancho La Troje, a pastured pig ranch near Puente de Ixtla. Her practices exemplify the premises of  the slow food philosophy. All of the animals are pastured the entirety of their lives, the butchering is done on site, sparing the pigs undue stress. The land is cultivated to meet the thier needs with various grains, legumes and native species, using healthful farming practices. She’s my hero.

Help support free range animal farming, visit and like George Anna’s  face book page. If you are in the Cuernavaca area look for her  bimonthly adds on CuernAds for the date and location of her Wednesday visits to sell pastured pork, organic oranges and limes.

Visit the slow food chapter in your area for  help finding great resources like Rancho La Troje.

Eat slow! Probecho!

What’s your favorite fast/slow food?

 

 

 

 

Buying Local

 

Dona Celia and Don Pedro sell fresh vegetables in La Tigra on Wednesdays.

Dona Celia and Don Pedro sell fresh vegetables in La Tigra on Wednesdays.

Our greengrocer, Dona Celia  never tires of explaining to ladies shopping at her cart that I buy Méxican food when I’m in México and American food when I’m in the US. My fellow shoppers smile and give me that “Gringa Loca” nod that all of La Tigra seems to have adopted regarding my curious habits.  Occasionally they ask why, and the Dona jumps in and explains, it’s fresher, better for local economies, and requires less gasoline. That’s the reason that befuddles them…less gasoline? Again, the nod.

Though I can’t resist Dijon mustard and Kalamata olives when I visit Tepotzlan , I do make an effort not to stray from Méxican products, produced as locally as possible. I’m fortunate to have eggs, milk, meat and cheese available from La Tigra producers, and I have a few favorite Méxican packaged products, a soy sauce made in Galeana, only 30 miles away, Valle Rodondo Box wine (for just 45 pesos!), and MO olive oil.

Recently, I added this exciting product to the nacionales list, Oso Negro Gin!  Yes, Mexican Gin! We are very excited. It’s not Hendricks , but it’s tasty and more important, it’s something different. We’re short on variety in these parts. Mexican tonic is also available, and I’ve concocted a passable Rose’s lime. Gimlet anyone?

Salud!

Salud!

 

 

Black Bear Gimlet

I cup sugar, melted in one cup water

Limes

Gin

A pinch of salt, and splash of sparkling water.

 

Pour 4 ozs gin in a shaker with ice, add 2 oz simple syrup and 2-3 teaspoons lime juice, a piece of lime and a pinch of salt. Shake the bejeezus out of it and pour into a martini glass. I leave in some of the ice because it’s so hot here, then add a splash of sparkling water and stir gently.

Salud!

 

 

 

How I Lost Ten Pounds…Eating Chicharron

Chicharron in the Tehuitztla market.

Chicharron in the Tehuitztla market.

Like many American women I used to be obsessed with my weight. When I moved to Mexico I lost ten pounds in six months. My diet changed from sushi, organic everything, lean meats, and mountains of salad, to beans, tortillas, sweet rolls, and caldos and moles full of lard.

My lifestyle went from a walk every day, hours on my feet waiting tables and frequent sessions of Latin dance, to laying in bed reading, sitting around the table bullshitting while eating meals of multiple carbs, and cursory gardening attempts.

I’ve effortlessly kept these ten pounds off for eight years. Though my lifestyle now is healthier that when I first arrived in Mexico, I resumed the walks and eat more vegetables, I’m not as active as I was in Chicago. When I travel to the states for a month I usually gain five pounds, and when I return to Mexico my body dutifully drops it, effortlessly, with no modification of my regular diet of beans, tortillas, Chiliquiles, cheese, eggs, whole milk and…Chicharron.

Though this seems inexplicable, the explanation is simple– I used to eat too much. Even the “healthiest” food will make you fat if you eat more than you need. Now I have no convenience food, I can’t order carry out, we seldom dine out, and I don’t have snacks, no chips, crackers, or baby carrots with “light” ranch dressing.  I eat two meals a day, and it’s plenty. I eat anything I want, I never think of fat or calories; and my weight is perfect for my age and frame. This is not health or dieting advice, just a testimony.

One thing I love to eat, that would have sent me into an anxiety attack in my previous life, is chicharron. If you’re an omnivore and a bacon lover chicharron is for you.

How to buy it: If your local Latin grocery has a large meat section, as they often do, they probably make their own chicharron. Ask for a taste. I don’t recommend the prepackage product, though Dianna Kennedy says there are good ones I couldn’t tell you the brands, and often it is not pig skin, but deep fried wheat, so if you want to investigate read the package carefully.   Chicharron should be absolutely crispy and have no aluminum, or lardy flavor. It should taste salty(though there is unsalted chicharron)  and mildly meaty .  It comes without or without meat. The belly is scored and cubes of meat or fat left attached, or it is cleaned to a thin sheet of skin only. Both are delicious. If it is rendered properly it is almost pure protein.

The classic preparation is chicharron in salsa verde or chilito, though it’s not my favorite because the chicharron gets mushy and takes on a menudo (tripey) flavor. And I wonder, why lose the crunch? My solution is to make it in the traditional way for Felipe, and I eat salsa verde, beans and tortillas with a side of Chicharron.

salsa verde de molcajete

salsa verde de molcajete

 

Salsa Verde (the quick version)

1 pd. tomatillos

1 clove garlic

½ a medium onion

½ cup chopped cilantro

Serrano chili to taste, I usually use four

Salt

1-2 Tbles Vegetable oil or lard

 

Clean the tomatillos of their husks and sticky coating. Just cover in water and bring to a boil. Cook until they turn a grey green and are soft to the touch, but not breaking up. Blend them with the rest of the ingredients to the texture you prefer, I like mine a little chunky.

Heat the oil to medium high and fry the salsa for about three minutes. Add serving, or bite sized pieces of chicharron. Be careful when salting the salsa because the chicharron will release a lot of salt into it. Serve with tortillas and some stiff refried beans.

Probecho!

 

 

 

 

 

Tacos de Chili Relleno(sort of)

 

Taco de Chili Poblano vsvevg (1)This is the last in my series of vegetarian tacos . As usual I had to tweak the recipe. Generally chili poblano is charred and cut into strips, for tacos. Sometimes bathed in crema(Méxican sour cream)* for rajas in crema, or, a la Méxicana, with tomato and onion, with the poblano as the chili portion of this basic recipe. For the full blown rellenos taco, the chili is stuffed with cheese and batter fried, then wrapped in a tortilla. I am not afraid of fat, but a deep fat fried anything in a tortilla is a little heavy even for me. So because I love rellenos and portable food, I devised this slightly lighter version.
Tacos Rellenos de Queso Frito, con Salsa Ranchero
Charred, and peeled chili poblano, cut in half. Each chili will make two tacos.
Queso cincho , ar any cheese that fries well; kasseri , provolone are good choices.
Vegetable oil
Tortillas
Heat the oil, and fry the cheese until brown outside and creamy inside, warm the chili in the pan as you do this. Place the cheese in the chili and the chili in the tortilla. Eat immediately, fried cheese gets tough when it cools. Dip in salsa ranchera.
Salsa Ranchera
This recipe comes from, you guessed it, Diana Kennedy’s, The Essential Cuisines of Méxican! She mentions the debate about whether or not to broil the tomatoes; I’m with her, I prefer them broiled. This salsa is standard with Huevos Rancheros, Queso Flameado and Chilies Rellenos. It’s a good standard recipe to have in ones repertoire. It makes about a cup.
One pound roma tomatoes broiled until some of the skin is blackened
4 serrano chilies charred, I do this in a pan with oil, again to blacken the skin
1 clove garlic roughly chopped
2 Tbles vegetable oil
2 Tbles finely chopped white onion
½ tsp salt, or to taste
Blend the tomatoes, chilies and garlic until fairly smooth.
Heat the oil and fry the onion gently without browning, until translucent. Add the blended ingredients and salt and cook over a fairly brisk heat for about five minutes, stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan until the sauce is reduced a little and well-seasoned.
Probecho!

Taco de Chili Poblano vsvevg (2)
These are the links to the rest of my vegetarian taco recipes; in the case you missed one 
Tacos de Haba(fava vean)
Tacos de Nopal(cactus paddle)
Tacos de Hongo(mushroom)
Tacos Dorado(ricota)
Tacos de Papa (potato)

*I mention crema in several of these posts. You can buy Méxican style crema, but it’s overpriced. The most authentic way is to make it by adding 1 Tbles sour cream to 1 cup of unpasteurized heavy cream and let it sit in out for a couple of days. It’s pretty warm here so it doesn’t take mine more than a day usually, but be sure your crema is in a warm place, say near a pilot light. Then, pull the heavy top portion back and pour off any whey that may be at the bottom, add some salt and refrigerate.
Or, you can use regular sour cream, which is perfectly delicious. I hope you enjoyed my veggie taco series. Our next foray into the authentic cuisine of Morelos features– Chicharron!