Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comida Mexicana: Some Basics

A few years ago one of my Mexican friends gave me cooking lessons once a week. We practiced the staples, rice and tortillas, each week and she taught me a new main dish. The recipes I'll share here are more authentic than the food served in Mexican restaurants. Mexican recipes can also vary depending on what part of Mexico the cook is from.

Some common ingredients in Mexican food many seem strange or confusing to Americans. How manyt different types of chiles or quesos (cheeses) can you name? There are probably a few more than you would think. For most recipes, the chiles needed are not interchangable.

There is also a big difference between tomatoes and tomatillos. Tomatillos are from the berry family and have a papery, husk-like covering. Most grocery stores stock these in the same area as tomatoes. These are used in green salsas and guacamole. To prepare them, you peel away the husk and wash them well in warm water to get rid of the sticky residue. (The sticky residue will give the food a bitter taste.)

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