Tomatoes, chillies and a whole lot of oregano!

Another chapter comes to an end but this time it’s a Central American adventure. In late 2019 I received the cookbook “Mexico” by Rick Stein. Up to this point I enjoyed the life of Old El Paso and didn’t really stray far from this. From empanadas to fajitas Mexican food has always been tasty and spicy but I’ve always imagined it was difficult or time consuming to make. A common mistake of many I’m sure when it comes to cooking. So following the path of #currysaturday I decided to do #MexicoSunday (originally it was Monday but with after school activities for the boys even the simplest dish was difficult. 

A sample of dishes, including Finley’s favourite
A sample of dishes, plenty of fish and fresh ingredients

So how would I describe the last 20 months? Well it seems to be a blend of traditional recipes and influences from America and Spain. Recipes that are built and based on beans (lots of refried beans), corn, peppers, chillies (never knew there was so many), tomatoes and eggs! Eggs confused me but lots of fried egg dishes. 

Do I have a favourite? No. There are too many to really single out just one. I have a few that bring back really fond memories:

  • Char-grilled beef tacos: Sometimes (and apologies to any vegetarians) you just need a simple steak. And this recipe cuts it. We have done the recipe more than once as the boys love it. Lots of bowls of dips, salads and other accompaniments in the centre of the table and wraps so that you can just help yourself. This dish just screams Mexican to me. 
  • Doner tacos: So there is a theme of meat but see below. The reason for liking this dish is the same as above but it just has a variety of different flavours. The aroma it fills the house when roasting is worth the four hours of cooking. 
  • Huevos Divorciados: Good old divorced eggs. I loved this dish because of the variety you got with each mouthful. A salsa verde and salsa ranchero with cheese and fried eggs. The boys loved the ability to just pick and choose how much of each you want. 
  • Ensenada Fish Taco: Okay there is a theme to my favourite dishes. Fish that cooks quickly and again a choice of how you build your taco. Choice is surely a great thing in life. This dish introduced me to Chipotles en Adobo and the flavour and kick of it has been wonderful. 
  • Seafood Stew: Lastly but not least, a bowl of utter indulgence with fish. Love that I can get this from my local market but having a warming bowl of this on a weekend (or leftovers in the ewek) was simply a pleasure. 
  • Other stuff: Many many margaritas and homemade tortillas. Just the simplest things in life. 

Overall I have really been impressed by the diversity of food options and above all (going back to the start) how easy some of the recipes are – yet look like they have taken all day! A regular in the shopping basket of coriander and chilli will be there to stay and a personal realisation that its more than just Old El Paso! As I look back over the last 20 months I am proud of the broad range of food we have sampled and some firm favourites (as above) are here to stay. We also did a Mexican themed night with friends over. So its the end of the journey but onwards with a Far Eatern exploration next. 

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