Latin American Month...
by Kate Heyhoe
What distinguishes Tex-Mex, from New Mexico-Mex, or from California-Mex or Arizona-Mex—the Mexican cuisines of the Southwestern border states?
Each area varies in the use of favorite ingredients. Texans favor cumin (comino) and beef, New Mexicans excel in their abundant use of chiles and corn, Californians go nuts for sour cream and avocados, and Arizonans tend towards flour tortillas and dairy-rich dishes using creams and cheeses. This is not to say you won't find green chile dishes in Texas or cumin-laced sauces in California—the Mexican pantry is the same for all these regions—but each region does enjoy putting it's own personal stamp on the flavor combinations.The border cuisine varies, too, from traditional Mexican food—if there is such a thing. For in Mexico, as in the US or any other large country, regional variations exist in its own cuisine. The Yucatan plays off the tropical fruits and the traditions of its Mayan ancestors. The Oaxacans create chocolate-laced moles and crushed seeded pipian sauces, while central Mexico around Lake Patzcuaro plates up locally caught crisp fried whitefish with vinegary cabbage salads. Look at the favorite foods of indigenous peoples and the predominant crops of an area, and most likely you'll see these same elements reflected in their most prized dishes.
Whether it's north or south of the border, antojitos take center stage. Antojitos, or appetizers, range from such crispy corn masa specialties as chalupas, tacos and tostados to just about anything wrapped in a flour tortilla, and lots of other small dishes able to be eaten in just a few bites.
I can make a whole meal of just antojitos—washed down with a good Mexican beer, preferably the dark Negra Modelo or the pale Tecate, graced with a squeeze of lime. The recipes that follow are simple to make, just right for whipping together when the mood for snacks hits you. Or, do what I do, make a meal out of one or several of them together. It's food like this that turns a meal into a party—or rather, a fiesta!
Kate's Latin American Month...
Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created June 1999
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