I try to restrain myself, really, but I’m incredibly food centric. What we eat, where it comes from, the literal flavors of an experience… after my family, it would be fair to say that my life revolves around food.
Living in Mexico this past year has meant a world of new things to try, new flavors to differentiate, new techniques to understand.
It has also meant missing old favorites. I remember in high school, when we moved to Taiwan- and said goodbye to peanut butter and cheese which was more than a “food product”. When we returned to the states, a simple sharp cheddar never tasted so good!
Before we left to go cruising, my morning routine was a latte. Jamie made it for me every morning, and I’d carry it to the ferry in a steaming travel mug. It was comfort in a cup. The familiar comfort flavors I crave now? A few bites of good dark chocolate, every now and then. (My parents sent a bar of 70% chocolate for my birthday last month. Not that I worried, but I think this is proof they truly love me). A shaved bit of reggiano on a perfectly ripe tomato slice (plenty of gorgeous tomatoes around here, but you can forget the cheese. It’s… different). Basil. Lamb. Organic anything. A childhood friend of mind has a food blog, and I like to torture myself by reading about the exquisite kitchen adventures she has with her children… the ingredients I dream about finding by accident in a Mexican tienda… usually nothing we can come close to replicating down here.
Here, though, I’ve discovered a fantastic new comfort food: chilaquiles. It’s basically stale tortillas, cooked in an enchilada sauce, usually served with topped with sunny-side up eggs (if it’s for breakfast) or shredded chicken (any other time of day). A dollop of crema (which is somewhere between crème fraiche and sour cream), a sprinkle of chopped cilantro, and you have the makings of a delicious, comfort meal. Better yet: I believe I may have hooked the whole family with this new, spicier take on comfort food.
I’m told that Mexican women are supposed to learn how to make this before they get married. It’s got to be the best way to use leftover tortillas around (and we do accumulate them sometimes- those warm, fresh pillows of masa can get stale fast).
It’s ironic: in looking for a new comfort food, I think I’ve found something I’ll be hard pressed to replicate after we’ve left Mexico. I wonder what will be next?