Our lucky contributor goes behind-the-scenes of barbacoa making in Mexico City.
All photos by Lydia Carey except where indicated.
In every region of Mexico, you will find barbacoa steaming on streetside stands, taking center stage at family gatherings, and being sold by the kilo to hungry market goers. Barbacoa is Mexico’s Sunday brunch, its method is as old as time immemorial, and its recipes continue to evolve at the hands of each barbacoa master, who adds his or her special touch to one of the country’s most quintessential dishes.
The origin of the word barbacoa is most likely from the West Indies, where it describes a type of grill for cooking meat. In Mexico it refers...Read More
Edam cheese. Photo: Yvwv
Yucatecan food—even that found along the so-called Riviera Maya, the coastal corridor between Cancún and Tulum—is markedly different from “Mexican food” as most of us know it, as we learned while traveling the region last week. One reason is, of course, the pronounced Mayan influence, but many more groups have left their mark on the cuisine here as well, from the British and Spanish to the Lebanese and even the Dutch. The latter’s influence can be witnessed in one enduring main ingredient—Edam cheese, called queso de bola here—and is particularly unexpected for someone who’s traveled across much of Mexico before. No one knows for sure how the cheese got...Read More
It can get you drunk three different ways and it’s not your college boyfriend — moreover, the maguey (or agave) plant is used to actually treat syphilis, not cause it. A look at the humble maguey’s role in Aztec and Mexican life, past and present.
The maguey cactus, native to Mexico, is best known for its place in alcohol, specifically tequila, but it’s also eaten in a variety of ways, used to make fabric and clothes, and taken for medicinal purposes. Not a looker, this giant, spike-covered plant somehow made its way from desert cactus to unexpected star of ancient Aztec (and later Mexican) civilization, permeating food, drink, clothing,...Read More
It’s hard to find a restaurant in Pueblo, Colorado, that doesn’t serve green chiles. This is prime pepper country, a smaller—and, some would argue, tastier—alternative to Hatch, New Mexico.
In autumn, at harvest time, the scent of roasting chiles wafts from roadside stands, supermarkets, and the annual Loaf ’N Jug Chile and Frijole Festival, which I was lucky enough to catch this September. (Among pepper enthusiasts, the preferred spelling of the capsicum fruit is chile. The dish containing meat, chile, and vegetables, like the one we tried in Denver, is chili.)
The chiles are roasted over an open flame in rotating black-wire drums, and then hosed down in a cloud of steam. It’s...Read More
Cranberries. I don’t think of them too often, unless I’m throwing a handful of dried ones into my salad. Or, you know, it’s this time of year, when cranberry sauce makes its annual appearance in the Thanksgiving spread. But cranberries are an important fruit to the U.S., not only because of their more recently publicized “superfruit” antioxidant qualities, but because they’re one of the few fruits that originated on North American soil. They were a staple in the diets of Native Americans, who passed along the wild fruit’s benefits to the Pilgrims when they arrived in the early 1600s. Cultivation of the berries began on Cape Cod in 1816; commercial harvesting followed in 1847. Today,...Read More