|Homemade Guacamole w/tostadas and queso fresco|
I cook better Mexican food than American food.
There, I said it. It's out and for what it's worth I never saw it coming. It was subtle at first. A plate of quesadillas here, a pot of posole there, with some queso fresco spinkled on in between. I've always been a good cook and baker of luscious desserts. I took over the making of chocolate chip cookies from age ten or so, and then was entrusted with the famous One Egg Cake my mom created. Supper was made by me every now and then and if asked I could whip up most anything.
I remember my Aunt Vera telling me once that if you can make a white sauce that isn't lumpy, then you're a true cook. I would whisk that creamy roux to within an inch of it's floured up life until not a lump could be found. My soups were dreamy as were the casseroles that had just the right seasonings added to them.
The sights and smells of Mexican cooking overcrowded my brain for almost a year, then bam - we headed home to Ohio. Back to Amish cooking and tuna casseroles. I experimented with different flavors back then. Mexican ingredients, authentic ones, weren't readily available so we worked with what we had. Many different variations of enchiladas were attempted. Some were successful and the ones I use today come from a very refined recipe that has been altered frequent times over the years. I am still learning.
There are days, though, that I sit and wonder what to make for supper. I realize that those days are the ones I'm not making Mexican food. There is no hesitation when chicken needs to be boiled and shredded for a spicy Tinga with onions. Stacked on a crispy tostada with cheese and a side of black beans, it's a no-brainer. Ask me to make a tuna casserole and I fold. Really, I can still make a mean tuna casserole but my heart just isn't in it. My heart is loaded with flavors of that warm land to the south. The one that can take a simple masa dough and turn it into magic brimming with beans and cheese.
That taco truck hovers every closer to my line of vision. My mind is creating the menu every day that goes by, refining it, adding to and taking away. The grill and fry station seem clear as a bell in my mind as does the meat I want to make and shred or the salsa to blend and imbue with rich goodness. The flavors are melding in my coterie of recipes until I just want to burst.
It is no surprise that my heart isn't much into American flavors anymore. I love them dearly, but my heart pounds for that spicy scald of flavor as it rushes past my taste buds and warms my stomach. I guess there is something to be said for following your stomach AND your heart. Stay tuned to where the chile trail leads me.