Thursday, July 17, 2008

New World Food Order

Guy: So Zola's previous post "Vision Quest..." inspired me to try a dish I happened upon in Mexico City when I was there on a rock mission a couple of years back. It was actually the masa cake gorditas that inspired me. 2 winters ago, Mudhoney were lucky enough to open up for Pearl Jam on a number of South and Central American dates, the final one being at the Armadillo dome in Mexico City. PJ were very accommodating and kind to us, and in fact allowed us to tape this show on their recording system. It later became Mudhoney's Live Mud live in Mexico city album.

Whilst on this trip, Mark, my friend Jim and I took a trip to the Presidential palace on our day off. The palace is located next to an Aztec ruin and a magnificent basilica. The palace itself contains the epic fresco mural by Diego Rivera that depicts the history of the Mexican nation. The whole central plaza is awash with street vendors of all kinds. Of course my favorites were the food vendors. Undeterred by Mark and Jim's fearful warnings about the street food, I ploughed into some blue corn gorditas topped with Nopales and Queso Fresca. Nopales is cactus, a local staple in the Mexico city area. The dish is often referred to as nopalitos, the diminutive for cactus. Zola's gorditas reminded me of this dish, so I was off to our local Carniceria for some Nopales and Chicharron. Our local carniceria is located where Boren hits Rainier Ave. It's an unassuming little front that opens on to a large and well stocked Mexican market. The friendly and helpful manager provided a few tips as he whipped out 5 large fresh nopales leaves from his walk -in. 
So, here's how it's done. The gorditas are essentially Zola's previous recipe with a little extra salt and a couple of large pinches of sugar, no further explanation needed. 
The black beans were made with 1 can of black beans, 1 small can of Salsa Verde Picante and some onion powder. Stew this in a pot until hot and add 6 to 8 one inch pieces of chicharron seco (porn rinds)(Zola: I think it's safe to assume Guy intended to write pork rinds but I'm enjoying the typo too much to correct it). Stew until the texture of the pork rinds are soft. 
Now for the Nopales. Mine were bought de-spiked but if yours are not, get those spikes off or your in for an 'Arrowing meal! The raw nopales are very easy to slice with a sharp knife, I did mine in 1/4 inch strips as I remembered from Mexico city. Next stew them at a low boil with some garlic and salt in a shallow pot of water, for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can check them from time to time, their texture when ready should be that of a firm perfectly cooked green bean.  Next drain the Nopalitos, chop some more fresh garlic and add to a pan with some olive oil on a medium high heat. saute the cactus for a short time till it is well coated in olive oil.
The next stage is the plating, I topped our rather substantial gorditas half and half with bean and nopales. Then added some queso fresca on top. best method is to gouge and scape the cheese of the block with a fork. The plate is then garnished with tomatoes and avocados. 
There  you have new foods from the new world! Don't forget to locate your local carniceria for your authentic ingredients, Bon Provecho.  


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