Tuesday, February 09, 2010

South and back again

Haha! We are back from Mexico and beyond. We did eat fruits I did not know the name of (although we did see plenty of Washington apples), tortillas, local cheese, mole and tacos al pastor. Mmm. Tacos al pastor. Spiced pork slow-cooked on a rotisserie and then served in little yellow corn tortillas with onions, cilantro and pineapple, add green salsa. That was probably my favorite meal of the trip. Especially with a Negra modelo beer.

Overall the food was pretty good. We ate plenty of fresh fruit, tomatoes, onions, and avocado. Lots of fresh, local cheese, beans, tortillas, coconut. My only (unanswered) questions, were: what kind of oil are they cooking in, and where is this meat coming from? The grocery stores were stocked with canola and soy oil, and the taquerias (taco shops) used this oil for frying, so I'm assuming that we probably consumed our fill of those oils. As far as the meat goes, I have no idea. I read before we left that Mexico has adopted many of the US policies on animal production, including feedlots. Oaxaca state is *supposed* to rely on its local food supply more than most areas in Mexico because it has small farmers rather than large agribusiness. But after asking many people where the cows were raised and what they were fed, I gave up on a clear answer. It seemed that the cows were raised somewhere up north, and fed, more or less, cow food. The first time that I asked the dairy stall in the market what their cows were fed, I was met with such a strange look I almost gave up right there. As if there might be different things that cows eat, or that it might matter...huh.

Another oddity to me was the nonexistence of coconut oil as a cooking oil. The coconuts were so abundant on the Pacific coast that you could buy one, freshly picked and cut in half with a straw for about a dollar. It would make so much sense to make use of all these coconuts for their oil, given how healthy it is for the body, inside and out. But there was none to be found. We had brought coconut oil with us from the States and took teaspoons regularly to keep our immune systems strong while we were traveling. But that was the only coconut oil I saw.

All in all, very good food. I loved the use of chiles for spice--the dozen chiles (maybe I exaggerate...) in the black mole sauce, the different salsas at each taqueria. So good. But some of the more complex elements of cooking--like braising, stocks, and whole grains--were absent. I was especially aware of this as I was reading Julia Child's memoir while we were traveling. I believe that that woman can make anyone excited about cooking technique--bring on the sauces...!!

Last but not least, Micael and I got engaged while away (and yes--I was completely surprised!) :) So, although we have known we were already committed to each other for better or worse and for everything in between, it is now official, and officiality brings with it all sorts of new experiences, emotions and family relationships--all joyfully welcome. I can't say how much I look forward to a life with him. And with our stocks, pots, saut├ęs and gazpachos. Our first day home from Mexico we got up early (this was an incredible feat), went to the Ballard farmer's market, and bought fresh, raw cheese, a damn good french baguette, farm eggs and raw milk. We came home, ate, and although I don't remember, I imagine we got back into bed and stayed the rest of the day that way. So, here's to the man I love...and a lifetime of bumping into each other in the kitchen.

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