12.09.2012 - 26.09.2012
For me (and most of my friends), Mexican holidays are all about the food. While you can eat the dishes below during any time of the year, the foods on this list are even more popular around Mexican Independence Day (September 15-16th). Try them out on the street or get yourself invited to a party, or make the attempt in your own kitchen. This year at Casa HOY we made esquites, which were exquisite and quite successful.
Esquites/elotes – Not just corn on the cob. This typical Mexican street food is always popular, but especially so around the “grito” because everyone just happens to be mingling outside in the downtown plaza or on neighborhood street corners. Esquites are corn off the cob (on the cob it’s called elote)– coated with mayonnaise and shredded cheese, doused with lime juice and sprinkled with chile piquin (red chile flakes that can either be spicy or just tangy). The corn is boiled (or roasted) with a variety of spices and herbs, including epazote, a savory plant frequently used in Mexican cooking. I prefer it on the cob, because it’s all the more fun to make a mess of yourself.
Pozole – perfect for the slight chill in the mid-September weather, pozole is a pork or chicken based soup with hominy (giant corn kernels) in broth. Like all great Mexican food, it’s very “make you own.” You can add pork rinds, avocado, chile powder, onions, shredded cabbage lime, and cilantro. You can then eat it with tostadas (crunchy, baked tortillas) and a dollop of cream. There is red, white and green pozole, depending on the color of the chilies added, and a pozoleria (a pozole restaurant, of course) will usually have all three colors. Pozole is a dish commonly served on the weekends because it takes several hours to simmer on the stove, and there’s always so much that you must have a small party to finish it all off.
Tamales – made from corn-based dough, tamales cover any antojo (craving) you may have. “Salty” fillings include beef, mole, chicken, pork, rajas (Poblano chile strips) and pork rinds in red or green salsa, while “sweet” fillings include pineapple, raisin, chocolate and strawberry. The list goes on, but that’s what our tamale man up the street sells. Tamales wrapped in banana leaf are usually square-shaped and called “oaxaqueños,” and those wrapped in corn husk that look more like an actual ear of corn are called “de hoja.”
Papas y rajas con crema – my favorite. It can be a filling for your quesadilla at the local market, although most people eat it as a side dish at lunch. Small potatoes with strips of Poblano chile cooked in a white cream sauce is such a tasty mix of spice and salt that I’d be happy eating straight out of the frying pan. Some people get creative and toss in corn kernels to add a little color.
Pastel de elote – a sweeter, less crumbly version of corn bread. In case you haven’t noticed, corn is the staple in Mexican cooking, so why not finish off a corn-based meal with a corn dessert? Pastel de elote is made with condensed milk, milk, cinnamon, eggs and corn, giving it a thick, moist consistency.
Casa HOY esquites: