Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Down Mexico Way

I adore Mexico, especially the food and beer. And the ocean for that matter. And obviously the hats. It was one of our first holidays as a married couple, after our honeymoon, and was the most blissful week I can ever remember. Namely because of Swine Flu. No, I didn't catch it (can you believe it, I actually escaped an illness) but Mr. G was adamant, that when the Swine Flu epidemic broke out, that not only was it all a load of rubbish, but that we must use it as an excuse to visit Mexico, the heart of the problem, as it would be empty and cheap. Ever the romantic. So, while most normal people were giving Mexico a wide berth, we packed our bags and flew in. For once, Mr. G was right. The beaches were deserted, the restaurants desperate for us to come in and the beer was free flowing. We wandered around totally empty Mayan ruins, feeling like we were having a private showing of ancient wonders, and generally were very spoilt. 

A very empty beach and restaurant. I think people heard that Mr. G was in town...

Chichen Itza in July, totally deserted!

So, my love affair with Mexico began, and even now, a quick fajita whisks me back to those heavenly days. I have been trying to learn more about Mexican cuisine, not the Tex-Mex stuff that most so called 'Mexican' restaurants sell, but authentic food from this amazing country. There is a lot to learn, and it helps if you speak Spanish (I can order a beer, that is it), and a love of chilli seems mandatory, but I have just bought a brilliant book that makes the somewhat daunting task a little easier.

The book is the Wahaca cookery book, which is by the wonderful Thomasina Miers, and follows on from her Mexican Food Made Simple book, which I also love. Wahaca is a small chain of fab Mexican cantinas, serving delicious and authentic Mexican street food and 'tapas' style dishes. It's super chilled out and perfect for a quick lunch. I adore it, so snapped up her new book the day it was published. 

I cannot praise it highly enough. the recipes are simple to follow, and although some require ingredients that your Sainbury's Local are unlikely to stock, she has pages of good suppliers, and offers up lots of alternatives. I bought a stock of dried chilli's from the South Devon Chilli Farm, which you can rehydrate in hot water so easily, and keep for ages, which make a huge difference to the flavour. See below for details. The chicken tostadas are incredible for lunch, as a starter, or I made double and used corn tortillas for a light supper. The pork pibil, Wahaca's most famous dish, is mind blowing, and the stews and salads are just as good. 

If you have any interest in Mexican food, I urge you to try this book. Her first book was fab, but this one is even better. Although avoid it if you are on a diet.....!

Wahaca - Mexican Food at Home, by Thomasina Miers, from £10.40 at Amazon

Mexian Food Made Simple, by Thomasina Miers, from £10.40 at Amazon

The South Devon Chilli Farm, online shop (although you can visit if you are in South Devon!). A huge selection of dried chillis is available, a Gift Selection (which would last for years) is £10.50. Single varieties start at £2.30

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