When I mention Mexican food, what do you think of? Tacos, burritos, mole, salsa, guacamole...? Have you tried the real thing or just the typical Tex-Mex version?
There's so much more to authentic Mexican cuisine than this. It's an inextricable part of the culture and identity of the nation, with strong historical and geographical roots. There's a mind-boggling array of regional specialities and local variations on national dishes; a tongue-tingling variety of chillies in many shapes, sizes, colours and levels of heat; a whole book dedicated to mole with pages and pages of different recipes, and so many mouth-watering flavours, with and without chilli.
I always think that one of the most exciting things about visiting a new place is being able to try the local food, which is why my first blog (from my first two years in Mexico) was themed around this topic. As the novelty of being in Mexico wore off, my enthusiasm for writing the blog petered out, sadly, but I've decided to revive it here - at least in part - and start a new, occasional series of posts on this blog all about Mexican food. So, here we go with part 1:
I didn't make the tlacoyos, just the salsa. I would sometimes buy tlacoyos from street stalls when we used to live in Guanajuato, they were quite common there but I hadn't really seen them anywhere else until the other day when I caught sight of a little packet of them in a butcher's. There's something really appealing to me about these little eye-shaped pockets of corn dough (the same used to make tortillas), filled with - in this case - potato and cheese. They're cooked on the comal with a little oil until crispy on the outside - these were already cooked when I bought them so I just heated them up in a pan with a drop of oil, then smothered them with sour cream and my homemade green salsa.
To make the salsa I toasted a few chunks of onion and a green chilli (serrano chilli) in a pan without oil and gently boiled some green tomatillos in water until they were soft. Then I blended all these ingredients together (didn't add any extra water to the mix), heated a drop of oil in a pan and fried the salsa, adding a little powdered chicken stock for seasoning. Pretty straightforward, as salsas go, and best served warm. I managed to get the level of heat just right for me; with a ratio of one chilli to about eight tomatillos I got a salsa that was only slightly hot so I could pour it on generously.
Unfortunately, my salsa wasn't really appreciated by the rest of the household! The tomatillos were pretty acidic, so not good for heartburn and indigestion sufferers. However, the acidity is what I loved about it, and the faint tang of gooseberry (tomatillos are actually not tomatoes but distant relatives of the gooseberry).
So, I hope you enjoyed this little taster of a Mexican antojito and will be tempted to come back for more...