The Gastronomy and culture of Mexico

Mexico is known to have one of the widest and most diverse food maps in the world. Due to its large and varied territory Mexican Food is divided by regions, each with its own uniqueness and specialty dishes.

Mexican food is rich in tradition and history with a combination of native indigenous food utilizing fresh and natural ingredients. Many dishes are influenced by the Spanish culture dating back to 1492.

In the end of September 2010, Claudia was invited by the Mexican Ambassador to Algeria to represent Mexico at the Gastronomic and Cultural week showcasing Mexico at the Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden Hotel in North East Africa to celebrate the 200th anniversary of México´s Independence. Claudia will spend five days preparing a variety of Mexican delicacies for Algerian dignitaries and their guests:

We will have the news of her visit and show you the pictures from her trip to Algeria!

Visit to Alger!!

Claudia was invited few months ago to represent Mexico in the cultural and gastronomic week of Mexico in Alger Africa as the invited chef at the Sofitel Hotel in africa.

The celebration of 200 years of independence from Mexico was great, this was attended by 800 people, from different countries. This great feast was given by Ambassador Eduardo Roldan. The celebration was a great success!. This was held on Sunday 29 September at the Sofitel Algiers Hamma Garden in Alger, Algeria

After this celebration, at the Sofitel for a week there was a special week of Mexican Food in one of the restaurants of the hotel. During the week, we served delicious traditional dishes of Mexico, as a mole, pibil achiote sauce, different Mexican appetizers, fish tacos, fish a la Veracruz, Cream of habanero peppers, a great menu, serving things from all Mexico, north, central, coast and southeast.

Everyday We had the great pleasure to receive more people than we expected, being this week’s great success!

During this incredible experience I met some wonderful people of great quality, making me spend some wonderful days and supporting me a lot. With out them, it could not ever been the same!

Thak you!

Dia de los muertos!!!!

November first begins the Dia de los Muertos (also known as “Day of the Dead”) festivities with All Saints Day in which the deceased children are honored and remembered. November second All Souls Day is for the remembrance of the adult dead. Dia de los Muertos combines these days to celebrate the the deceased and enjoy their memories. Dia de los Muertos is not at all scary, spooky or somber. The spirits of the deceased are thought to pay a visit to their families during Dia de los Muertos and the families prepare an altar for them. The Altar Before Dia de los Muertos, an area of the house is cleaned up and the furniture removed to make room for the altar. The altar consists at a minimum of a covered table, and usually a few crates or boxes are added to it and covered to create open shelves and other raised display areas. The coverings used can vary from plain to vibrantly colored oil cloth. The altar is then set up with the appropriate ofrendas (offerings) for Dia de los Muertos. Ofrendas (Offerings) The offerings placed on the altar for Dia de los Muertos usually consist of a wash bowl, basin, razors, soap and other items the traveling spirit can use to clean-up after the journey. Pictures of the deceased are also placed on the altar as well as personal belongings for each person and any other offerings the deceased may enjoy such as a pack of cigarettes or a bottle of tequila. Candles are used to help light the way for the spirits as well as other decorative items such as papel picado (tissue paper cut-outs) wreaths, crosses and flowers. Certain Dia de los Muertos dishes are also placed on the altar to help feed and nourish the traveling souls. Some of these offerings also double as the four main elements of nature — earth, wind, water, and fire. These are represented by movable or light-weight items such as tissue paper cut-outs (wind,) a bowl of water, candles (fire) and food (crops, earth.) “Day of the Dead” Recipes * Sugar Skulls The most popular “Dia de los Muertos” ofrenda is Sugar Skulls. Sugar skulls are a traditional folk art from Central and Southern Mexico used to celebrate Day of the Dead. Mounds of colorful sugar skulls are sold by vendors in the village open air markets during the week preceding Day of the Dead. Increasing numbers of non-traditional colorful candies such as decorated chocolate skulls and other Halloween candies are now competing with the traditional sugar skulls, which are becoming harder and harder to find in Southern Mexico. The skulls are made of a sugar mixture that has been pressed into molds and then dried. The dried sugar skulls are decorated with icing and sometimes non-edible items such as colored foil, feathers or sequins.

What are Sugar Skulls?

Sugar skulls are exactly that- skull-shaped sugar. Traditional Sugar skulls are made from a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into special skull molds. The sugar mixture is allowed to dry and then the sugar skull is decorated with icing, feathers, colored foil and more. While the ingredients of sugar skulls are edible (with the exception of the non-edible decorations you may add) the skulls are generally used for decorative purposes. However some small sugar skulls that are made with basic icing are intended to be consumed.

Where were the first Sugar Skulls made?

Dia de los Muertos was an Aztec ritual that celebrated the lives of those who have deceased. The Spaniards who invaded Mexico tried to eliminate this seemingly offensive month-long holiday with no success. Dia de los muertos was eventually merged with the Catholic All-Saints day and All-Souls day on November 1st and 2nd in an effort to make the holiday more Christian.

For the dia de los muertos celebrations the sugar is pressed into sugar skulls and each sugar skull represented an individual and the names are often inscribed on the forehead of the skull.

I usually buy the sugar skulls, then print the name or write it in a little papper cut it and paste the names of my family on them, and decorate my kitchen with this beautifull skulls!!

Starting the year 2011

I created a few goals and now I’m trying to get started on the right foot. Cooking that is something I love to do.

I´m very interested in the traditions of what in the world they welcome the year cooking?

And here are some interesting things I want to share.

I find it interesting that depending on the country or culture, certain foods, when eaten at New Year’s, are considered to bring good luck. The traditions may be different but the foods and the beliefs in the type of luck they bring are similar, worldwide. The foods range from cakes, grapes, fish, pork, greens to legumes. Here are a few examples of what’s eaten all over the world:

Special cakes are made between Christmas and New Year’s: In Greece, it’s vasilopita, a cake baked with a hidden coin; in Mexico, it’s a rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped cake, baked with surprise baby boy And decorated with candied fruit, that means that the 2 of February you have to invite all to eat tamales the day of the candelaria and present to the church a baby boy Jesus all dressed!; in Scotland, it’s a black bun, a type of fruit cake; in Italy, its chiacchiere, honey-drenched fried pasta dough balls. dusted with powdered sugar; in the Netherlands, Hungary and Poland, they are donuts; in Holland, it’s ollie bollen, puffy donut-like pastries filled with apples, currants and raisins.

Grapes (12 grapes — one for each stroke of the clock) are eaten just before midnight in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador and Cuba.

Pork generally stands for progress, wealth and prosperity. In one form or another, it’s served in the U.S., Italy, Sweden, Austria, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Cuba and Portugal.

Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils represent money. Brazilians eat lentil and rice or lentil soup; while Germans eat split pea soup with sausage or lentils with sausage; Japanese eat sweet black beans called kuro-mame. Italians eat cotechino con lenticchie (a large spiced sausage and green lentils). Greens such as kale, collards, cabbage and chard (because their leaves are thought to look like folded money) also symbolize financial wealth. Germans eat cabbage (sauerkraut); Danes eat kale (stewed and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon); while American southerners eat collard greens.

I learned about the southern American tradition of eating black-eyed peas (normally with cornbread, rice, ham and collard greens).

“Rosca de Reyes” Crown of Kings

This cake had to start in Holland, taking the figure of eight sides, and from there to other countries like Spain, where it jumped to Mexico, and it was here that went from cake and took the form of a crown, adorned with fruit representing jewels.

And now is one of our biggest traditions Inside the bread, there is a little ceramicin old times now a plartic doll or dolls which represents the Baby Jesus. The person who gets the pieces of bread with the Babies, must be the Godparents of the Baby Jesus in the celebration of the Candelaria, on February 2nd..

“El dia de la Candelaria” is the day of the Candle or Light, known as the Day of Purification. That day, the Nativity scene is put away with a party given by the person who got the Baby Jesus in his/her piece of bread during the Rosca de Reyes celebration. He or she will be responsible for making a “Ropon” or christening gown for Baby Jesus. Generally, they have a Dinner with Tamales (Tamales are corn bread filled with meats in a sauce or raisins wrapped in corn husks).

Some new pictures from the classes!

Hello

Here are some pictures from classes of January!!

Guacamole time!!

Cheers form Can cook in Cancun with a nice reposado Tequila!

The Mirror!!
La Tamalada y Candelaria!

Tradition and festivals, two things that are presented in the daily life of Mexico.

They combine the culture and religion of the pre-Hispanic people and that of the Spanish conquerors to create an aura sometimes of gaiety, melancholy or solemnity.

But whatever the mood there is always a ritual food to accompany and none so famous as Tamales and the feast of Candelaria. The preparation for this day begins on Jan.6 with the Rosca de Reyes and the suspense as to who will find the baby Jesus figure in the Rosca, for that person will be responsible for providing the tamales on Candelaria February 2. This marks, for Catholics, the presentation of the child Jesus at the temple and is the mid-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, a time to prepare the earth for the spring planting.

In the mercados of all Mexico you will see stands that specialize in the repair and dressing of the Jesus figures, many of them family treasures passed on generation to generation.
But of course it’s the tamales that are the most important, and a food that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Candlemas and Groundhog Day:
February 2nd marks the mid-way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox and has long been thought to be a marker or predictor of the weather to come, which is why it is also celebrated as groundhog day . In many places it is traditionally a time to prepare the earth for spring planting.
Presentation of Christ at the Temple:
February 2nd also falls forty days after Christmas, and is celebrated by Catholics as the “Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin” or as the Presentation of the Lord. According to Jewish law a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth so it was customary to bring a baby to the temple after that period of time had passed. So Jesus would have been taken to the temple on February second.
Día de la Candelaria:
In Mexico this holiday is celebrated, because candles were brought to the church to be blessed.

In Mexico Día de la Candelaria is a follow-up to the festivities of Kings day on January 6th, when children receive gifts and families and friends break bread together, specifically Rosca de reyes, a special sweet bread with figurines hidden inside. The person (or people) who received the figurines on Kings Day are supposed to host the party on Candlemas Day. Tamales are the food of choice.

Niño Dios:

Another important custom in Mexico, particularly in areas where traditions run strong, is for families to own an image of the Christ child, a niño Dios. At times a godparent is chosen for the niño Dios, who is then responsible for hosting various celebrations between Christmas and Candlemas. First, on Christmas eve the niño Dios is placed in the Nativity scene, on January 6th, King’s Day, the child is brought presents from the Magi, and on February 2nd, the child is dressed in fine clothes and presented in the church.

Candlemas or Día de la Candelaria is a very popular event of the North American country of Mexico. A major festival that bids adieu to the winter season, Candlemas is celebrated with pomp and gaiety.

There are different types of tamales made all over Mexico. Each region has a specialty based on traditions and available local ingredients. Most tamales are made from ground corn that is wrapped in a leaf and steamed or baked, but there are many varieties to choose from.

Few countries have such an extensive variety of tamales as Mexico, where they’re considered one of the most beloved traditional foods. Almost every region and state in the country has its own kind of tamal. It is said that there are between 500 and 1000 different types of tamales all around the country. Some experts estimate the annual consumption in hundreds of millions every year.

Tamales are a favorite comfort-food in Mexico, eaten as both breakfast and dinner, and often accompanied by hot Atole and Champurado , maize-based beverages of indigenous origin. Street vendors can be seen serving them from huge, steaming, covered pots (tamaleras).

In Central Mexico, the tamal is often placed inside a wheat bread roll to form a torta de tamal (also called guajolota), substantial enough to keep a person satiated until Mexico’s traditional late lunch hour.

Michoacán
The Michoacán region of Mexico makes a special variety of tamale called corundas. Corundas are easily recognizable by their distinctive triangle shape. They are wrapped in long, green corn leaves before steaming. Steaming in the green corn leaf imparts flavor and creates a moisture seal resulting in a more moist tamale. Fillings for corundas include locally grown vegetables and chicken.

Yucatán
There are three major types of tamales from the Yucatán region of Mexico. The most popular is larger than most and baked in large ovens or on the ground. Vaporcitos are another tamale variety; a thin layer of corn dough is smeared on a banana leaf and steamed. The third variety is called tamales colads. They are filled with chicken and tomato, and seasoned with seeds of the achiote plant.

Northwestern Mexico
Tamales from the northwestern region of Mexico are made in restaurants, for large communal weekend feasts. These large three- to four-foot tamales are called zacahuiles. Zacahuiles are made with coarsely ground corn dough filled with pork meat and red chilis, wrapped into a banana leaf. They are baked in large, wood-fired ovens that are usually found in restaurants.

San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
In the mountainous city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the Chiapas region of Mexico, they make a special tamale variety called untados. These tamales are made by filling a banana leaf with finely ground corn dough and stuffing it with pork and a mole sauce. This sauce has over 20 ingredients, including chilis, spices and even chocolate. The sauce gives the tamale a complex spicy flavor.

Oaxaca
Tamales from the Oaxaca region of Mexico also employ a regional mole sauce to add complex flavor. These tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and are usually filled with small black beans and an herb called chepil. Oaxaca is know for a few different varieties of mole, including black, green and yellow.

Veracruz
Tamale makers in the Veracruz region of Mexico use a special herb called hoja santa to season their tamales. This aromatic herb has heart-shaped leaves and is used all over Mexico in various dishes. These tamales are wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in large pots. This regional variety is commonly filled with fresh corn, pork or chicken.

Culiacán, Sinaloa
The city of Culiacán in the Sinaloa region of Mexico has a tradition of both everyday and special occasion tamales. Smaller tamales are made as snacks and street food. These varieties are usually vegetarian and filled with corn, beans or pineapple. Special large tamales are made for celebrations and parties. They are often filled with chicken or pork and a mix of vegetables.

But here is the recipe of my favorites ones, Sweet and salty Corn Tamales.

10 medium tamales

Ingredients:

  • 10 ears yellow corn (If fresh is not available use about 8 cups frozen)
  • As kneed store bought husks
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar (amount can vary depending on sweetness of corn)
  • 2 cups corn flour (tortilla mix)
  • ½ cup half-and-half or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Husks from ears of corn or dried store bought husks

Filling:

  • 6 ounces oaxaca cheese, cut into strips
  • 14 ounces jalapeño whole mild green chiles, cut in strips

Directions:

If using store bought husks, dampen with cold water and set aside, dampening makes them easier to use.

Cut the kernels off the corn ear, and blend them in the food processor or blender.
Using a mixer, cream shortening and butter in a bowl. Mix in the sugar, milk and salt. Add the corn, add the flour. Mix to combine. Take a spoon of the paste and drop it in a glass of water if it’s ready it floats.

Working with the corn husks, overlap two husks so mixture can fit between them. Spread approximately 1/4 cup of the mixture down the center of the husks, forming a rectangle. Place one cheese strip or more, depending on taste, and two chili strips in the center of filling. Spread more of the corn mixture over the cheese and chiles, covering completely. Fold the husks over the filling; tie with corn husk strips or string. Repeat with remaining husks.

Place tamales in a steamer rack over boiling water and cover. Steam for about 2 hours or until tamales are firm.

Buen Provecho to All !!!!

HOLY WEEK Semana Santa in Mexico

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is the week leading up to Easter. This is the most important holiday in the church calendar because it is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Since Mexico is predominantly a Catholic country (nearly 90% of Mexicans practice Catholicism according to INEGI), Holy Week is a very important holiday. It is also the release from the sacrifices of Lent.

For Mexico, the Easter holidays are a combination of Semana Santa (Holy Week – Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday) and Pascua (Resurrection Sunday until the following Saturday).

In many communities, the full Passion Play is enacted from the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgment, the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. In some communities, flagellation and/or real crucifixion is included. The enactments are often wondrously staged, costumed and acted, with participants preparing for their roles for nearly the full year leading up to Semana Santa.

The dates of Holy Week vary from year to year. Easter falls on the Sunday after the paschal full moon, and Holy Week is the entire week before that, though school students also have the following week off. Find out how the date of Easter is determined.
These are the dates of Holy Week for the next few years:

2011 – April 17 to 24
2012 – April 1 to 8
2013 – March 25 to 31
2014 – April 14 to 20
2015 – March 30 to April 5

Travel During Holy Week:

Holy Week in Mexico is both a religious and a secular holiday. Most schools in Mexico have a two-week vacation period at this time, effectively making this Spring Break for Mexicans (good time to not be on the highways – just stay put and enjoy the community of your choice during this holday season). This also tends to be the hottest and driest time of year through most of the country, making the beach a magnet for those wanting to escape hot city streets. So if you’re planning to travel to Mexico during this time, be prepared for crowds on beaches and at tourist attractions, and make hotel and travel reservations well in advance.

During the winter months, Mexico’s varied and beautiful coastal waters yield an unsurpassed assortment of delicacies from the sea. This is when pescados y mariscos - fish and shellfish – are at their finest and freshest. The seasonal bounty from the ocean coincides with the observance of Lent, a traditionally meatless time of year, and the demand for seafood, in this nation of seafood lovers, is higher than ever.

Rapid transportation and efficient cooling have made fresh seafood easily available all over the country. In mercados, supermarkets, and even at the backs of trucks, people are lined up on every meatless Friday, and all through Semana Santa – Holy Week – eager to buy and prepare the family’s favorite Lenten seafood dishes.

From the carnivals that usher it in, to the solemn processions that lead to its conclusion, Lent is the most ritualistic period of the Mexican religious calendar and, as always, food is an integral part of it. Each region has its specialties, and each cook her own personnal sazón – flair for seasoning; but whether the budget can bear jumbo shrimp or humble fish heads, something tasty will result when seafood is paired with Mexican herbs and spices.

During this season every Friday of Lent. After making the list of the food of the day I will get ready for the trip to the market, where crowds are gathered around the fish stalls, looking, sniffing, poking, probing, and finally making a choice for the day’s comida.

Semana Santa also has a strong culinary tradition, one that partakes of the popular food of the streets in a season when everyone seems to be outdoors.

Historian Jeffrey Pilcher cites a description of Semana Santa from the 1800′s era memoirs of Guillermo Prieto. “From Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday throngs of people danced through the streets, in a movable feast of popular cuisine. Thirsty revelers guzzled aguas frescas, refreshing waters flavored with pineapple, melon, tamarindo, and chia seeds, dispensed by women from palm-frond and flower-decorated stands”.

Lent began this year on Ash Wednesday, March 9. Shortly before, certain food specialties began to appear in local markets. Vendors are currently offering very large dried shrimp for caldos (broths) and tortitas (croquettes), perfect heads of cauliflower for tortitas de coliflor (cauliflower croquettes), seasonal romeritos, and thick, But the list of dishes we typically have in this time of year are many, but here I present you a List of them. Bacalao Viscaina, Pescado a la veracuzana , Huausontles, Verdolagas en salsa verde, Pambazos, dried slices of bolillo (small loaves of white bread) for capirotada (a kind of bread pudding).

During Lent, the price of fish and seafood in Mexico goes through the roof due to the huge seasonal demand for meatless meals. The huachinango (red snapper) come from Mexico’s Pacific coast, for making the Huachimango a la Veracruzana.

Recipe of lent:

Romeritos A Sacred Mexican Dish

Romeritos are succulent, stringy-looking Mexican greens (Suaeda torreyana) that resemble rosemary and taste like spinach—which may be substituted. They are traditionally served at Christmas time and Lent.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of Romeritos (already cleaned are better) or Spinach
  • 1 ½ cup Peanuts ,Almonds, Nuts and Sesame seeds
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 roll of french bread toasted
  • 1 Tortilla toasted
  • ½ cup Raisins
  • 1 bar Abuelita ~ CHOCOLATE
  • 3 Chile Ancho
  • 3 Chile Pasilla
  • 2 Chile Mulato
  • 10 Nopal cactus
  • 2 pounds small potatoes cook.

Directions:

ROMERITOS: Clean and wash the romeritos with plenty of water to remove the soil from them.

Boil the Romeritos (herbs) in water, when the water gets dirty change it and keep boiling until the Romeritos are very soft. It takes like 30 minutes. Take them out of the water and let them drip. Shell the shrimp and ground them until they are a fine powder.

  1. If you don’t eat chile, wash the chilis and take the vains out, which is what makes them spicy.
  2. Boil the chilis with half an onion and a peeled head of garlic. When the chili changes color and gets soft you can turn the fire off.
  3. Boil the almonds so you can peel it (otherwise the mole tastes bitter).
  4. Toast the peanuts, the almonds, the nuts, the raisins. Then separately, each of them have their toasting time. Turn the fire down and add the sesame seeds, the sesame seeds jump, be careful to not get burn.
  5. Cut the Nopales in 1/2 cm aprox. Srips and boil them in water with salt. Only a moment, when they look yellowish and dribble take them out and let them drip and rinse.
  6. In the blender or food processor, start blending the ingredients you toast already. Don’t over fill the blender.
  7. Boil the chicken, you want the stock.
  8. Blend the chili with the chicken stock and add the nuts, the toasted tortilla, the toasted bread and the powder of shrimp
  9. In another pan put the ingredients of the blender or food processor. Move constantly, carefully, do not place your face close to smell it, the mole jumps. MOLE DOES NOT MIX WITH WATER IT MUST MIX WITH CHICKEN stock, or it will jump when you are preparing it.
  10. Add a spoon of bouillon of chicken powder . When the Mole is cooked, add 1 bar of chocolate Ibarra/Abuelita and taste it as you mix it to sweeten it to your taste with the chocolate.
  11. Add the Nopales to the Mole when this is boiling. Add the Romeros already cooked and stir and stir and stir the Mole. Taste it as you stir to adjust the salt, but you should not need more than two spoons of it.
  12. When it is almost ready, add the potatoes, you don’t need to peel them, around 10 minutes. Turn the fire off and let the Mole settle.

YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH MOLE TO FREEZE FOR LATER, JUST USE THE MOLE YOU NEED FOR THE AMOUNT OF ROMERITOS YOU COOK.

ROMERITOS: the plant grows wild, it is not cultivated. It has that name for the resemblance it has with rosemary.

Cinco de Mayo!!!

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that despite its origins in Mexico has become an incredibly popular one with Americans. Commemorating the Mexican victory over the invading French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862 (and Cinco de Mayo means “May 5th” in Spanish in case you were wondering), this holiday has taken on a different meaning in the US than in Mexico, where it is largely regarded as a local holiday. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in a variety of ways, from parades to performances and of course, Cinco de Mayo parties.

1) Although many people believe that Cinco de Mayo is a holiday, which celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain, this is not the case. While the reasons for this common misconception are less than clear, Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on May 5th, 1862; more than 50 years after Mexico’s declaration of independence in 1810.

2) Cinco de Mayo literally means “The Fifth of May” in Spanish.

3) Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more widely in the United States than in Mexico, where celebrations are largely confined to Puebla and Mexico City rather than being a nationwide event as it is here.

4) Cinco de Mayo events in Mexico include reenactments of the Battle of Puebla, with these reenactments occurring both in Mexico City as well as at the actual site of the historic battle.

5) The largest Cinco de Mayo parade in the world takes place in Los Angeles, California rather than in Mexico.

6) Even though the events commemorated by the Cinco de Mayo holiday took place in Mexico, the battle had an effect on American history as well. Napoleon III was allied with the southern states in the US Civil War, which was going on at the same time. Hampered by the unexpectedly fierce Mexican resistance to their invasion, France was prevented from providing assistance to the confederacy, possibly affecting the outcome; or at least the duration of the Civil War. After the conclusion of the war, the US provided assistance to Mexico, sending supplies and providing a naval blockade to prevent the French from bringing in supplies or reinforcements, allowing the Mexicans to defeat the French more quickly.

7) Cinco de Mayo parades and other celebrations are held in just about every major city in the United States (and in many smaller cities as well), with events going on everywhere from coast to coast.

8) Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated (although to a lesser extent than in the US or Mexico) in other countries. In Canada, an annual Cinco de Mayo skydive takes place and most unusually of all, there is an annual Cinco de Mayo air guitar competition held in the Cayman Islands!

Cinco de Mayo Party

You yourself may be looking at the idea of hosting a party for Cinco de Mayo this year and if so, then you will want to prepare accordingly to make sure that everything goes according to plan. From decorations to music to the truly important elements like food and drink, there is a lot to think about. Unless you are planning to have your party catered, then you will definitely want to make looking for some authentic Mexican recipes to prepare part of your preparations.

Decorating your home for Cinco de Mayo parties is relatively easy; you can get things ready by putting up streamers and crepe paper in the red, green, and white colors of the Mexican flag. One especially popular type decoration for these parties is tissue paper flowers, which are easy to make – if you have kids, they will no doubt be happy to help make them. You can also set out items like sombreros, miniature maracas and small potted cacti, which can also double as party favors to give your guests as a memento of your Cinco de Mayo event.

Music is easy enough to get lined up as well. While you could splurge on a mariachi band for your party, it is easier (and much less costly) to pick up some music at a Mexican record store or online to set the festive mood for your party – and for dancing, of course. However, it is food, which requires the most time and effort for most hosts of Cinco de Mayo parties.

If you are not especially skilled in the kitchen, you could keep things simple by serving tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole. However, there are other Mexican dishes, which you can prepare which do not require you to be a master chef – and of course, if you can follow a recipe, there are countless choices available to you.

Since Cinco de Mayo celebrates a historical event, which occurred in Mexico’s Puebla state, then you may want to consider serving a dish, which originated in this part of the country, such as any dish, which is served with a mole Poblano sauce. This is a complex, richly flavored and spicy sauce that includes chocolate and dried chilies among its ingredients; it is a little bit of a challenge to make if you are new to Mexican cooking, but if you feel intimidated by the complexity of this sauce, you can purchase it ready-made from many grocery stores. But you better do it from scratch is not as difficult to do it!

For a great celebration here is My mole recipe

Mole Poblano

This recipe is a home mole done from scratch,

And at the bottom there is a recipe for making mole from a jar and adding some ingredients for making it nicer

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 chicken thighs (or use chicken pieces like legs)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 guajillos pepper, toasted boiled and seeded
  • 4 pasilla peppers, toasted boiled and seeded
  • 4 anchos peppers, toasted boiled and seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 can (14 oz.) fire roasted tomatoes, undrained or fresh roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of nut and almonds toasted
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (these are sold in small cans in every Mexican grocery store)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup dark Mexican beer or any dark beer would be fine (Optional)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 squares (1oz. each) unsweetened chocolate (for baking), chopped
  • 1 corn tortilla toasted almost black
  • 1 piece of loaf of bread toasted
  • 1 ripe banana or plantain

Directions

Heat a pot 1 gallon of water. Add chicken season the water with salt garlic and onion spices and cook for 35 min to make a broth, set aside. This stock is going to be used in any of the tow stiles you are doing

*All the above ingredients put them into the blender or food processor to make a paste it is going to be very heavy, so if you need add some of the stock you prepare earlier. Strain the paste if it is to grainy. When it is ready in a pan with a little canola oil Stir in the mole paste about 10 minutes then add the stock, let it reduce, what you want is a very silky sauce.

Check if it’s well season and let cook for 10 more minutes add the all ready chicken and serve with sesame seeds toasted.

For using the paste from the store, a mole of 300 grams 12 ounces

In skillet, sauté ¼ chopped onion, and 2 cloves chopped garlic. Cook and stir until they are soft and slightly caramelized. Stir in the mole paste and cook 3 minutes longer.

Add 1 cup of chicken broth, beer, another cup of chicken broth or more, sugar and salt. Bring to simmer, add broth as it starts to be thickened and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Add chocolate, stirring often until smooth. Like a silky sauce.

Aguas Frescas from México

Aguas Frescas, Fruit Punches

In Mexico for lunch in our homes, traditionally we serve 1 or 2 pitchers of water of season fruit. They are very known and in Mexican restaurants will have a good selection of aguas frescas available.

Traditional punches, fruit drinks and other non-alcoholic flavored coolers, known as aguas frescas (Spanish: water refreshments) in some parts Mexico, are a combination of Fruits, seeds or flowers with sugar and water, blended to make a beverage.

Aguas frescas are popular in Mexico. Some of the more popular flavors include Tamarind drink (made with tamarind pods), AGUA de Flor de Jamaica (made with Hibiscus), and Agua de Horchata(usually made with rice and cinnamon).

In Mexico it is common to find aguas frescas in these flavors:

Sweet fruits:

Canteloupe
Guava
Guanabana
Mango
Melon
Watermelon
Passion Fruit
Papaya
Tuna, the Mexican prickly pear

Sour fruits:

Cucumber
Lemon
Lime
Tandarine
Greapefruit
Orange
Pinapple
Tamarinde
Strawberry

With seeds or flowers:

Chia, with lamonade
Hibiscus tea
Horchata
Jamica

Hibiscus tea is the infusion made from the calyces (sepals) of the hibiscus sabdariffa flower, an herbal tea drink consumed both hot and cold Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.

Agua de Flor de Jamaica is usually prepared by steeping the flowers, in boiling water, straining the mixture, pressing the calyces (to squeeze all the juice out), adding sugar, and stirring. It is served chilled.

A study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension has shown that drinking hibiscus tea can reduce high blood pressure in people with Type 2 diabetes The study results showed the average systolic blood pressure for those drinking hibiscus tea decreased from 134.8 mmHg (17.97 kPa) at the beginning of the study to 112.7 mmHg (15.03 kPa) at the end of the study, one month later.

A study of 65 subjects published in 2009 found that 3 cups of hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 7 mm Hg in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive participants. In those with mean systolic blood pressure over 129 mm Hg, the reduction was nearly 14 mm Hg. The study’s lead author has noted that hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, which are believed to be the active antihypertensive compounds, acting as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.

A study published in 2007 compared Hibiscus sabdariffa L. to the drug lisinopril on people with hypertension. Hibiscus “decreased blood pressure (BP) from 146.48/97.77 to 129.89/85.96 mmHg, reaching an absolute reduction of 17.14/11.97 mmHg (11.58/12.21%, p < 0.05).” Blood pressure “reductions and therapeutic effectiveness were lower than those obtained with lisinopril (p < 0.05).” The authors concluded that hibiscus “exerted important antihypertensive effectiveness with a wide margin of tolerability and safety, while it also significantly reduced plasma ACE activity and demonstrated a tendency to reduce serum sodium (Na) concentrations without modifying potassium (K) levels.” They attributed the blood pressure reducing effect of hibiscus to its diuretic effect and its ability to inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme through the presence of anthocyanins.

Horchata

Has its origin in ancient Egypt. Chufa is one of the earliest domesticated crops and in fact, was found in vases and used in the embalming methods in the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. The Chufa nut was widely used in Egypt and Sudan. The Arabs dragged the plant by excessive force to Spain during the time of the Moorish kings (700 B.C. a 1200 A.D.). The eastern Spanish province of Valencia was the best environment for growing Chufa.

The honorary title “drink of the gods” pops up. Plus I feel really good when I plant my extra long straw in and vacuum my tanker dry.

Where the name comes from?

Here is a wild explanation of where the name “Horchata” came from. I found it on the internet, so it must be accurate, right??

Well, there’s an old story about a girl in a little town that offered some of the drink to the visiting King of Catalunya and Aragon. After
enjoying the drink, the king asked, “Que es aixo?” (What is this?). The girl answered, “Es leche de Chufa” (Chufa milk – which was its original name), to which the King replied, “Aixo no es llet, aixo es OR, XATA!” (This is not milk; this is GOLD, CUTIE). The word “Xata” in Catalan – which the King spoke – is an affectionate nickname for a child.

The fame spread throughout the country and the name of the drink started to be known in Spanish as Orchata. Later, the H was added to the beginning.

Sounds pretty convincing, no?

In Spain, it usually refers to orxata de xufa (horchata de chufa), made from tigernuts, water, and sugar.

The idea of making horchata from tigernuts comes from the period of Muslim presence in Valencia (from the 8th to 13th century).

There are 4 kinds of horchata

Chuffa from tigernuts

Rice horchata

Melon seeds horchata

And Almond horchata

When the Spaniards brought the drink to Mexico, the natives used rice and Melon seeds to make the drink.

In Mexico, horchata is made of rice, sometimes with vanilla and always with cinnamon.

It is well known in all the Mexican Countrie

Agua de tamarindo, Tamarind Water

Is an agua fresca drink from Mexican cuisine. It is made with tamarind after it has been boiled in water, has had its seeds removed, and has been liquified and combined with sugar. (If your mixture comes out too acidic you may need to dilute it more with water or use less Tamarindo.

You can fine the tamarind paste in tai food stores and concentrates of tamarid in Mexican grocery stores

Chia

Chia is a seed that in Mexico many years ago we us it in some drinks like lemonade, it was well known to be very good resource of nutrients so our mothers gave it to us when we were growing.

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala Folklore attests it was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Colombian times, and was so valued that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. It is still used in Mexico and Guatemala, with the sedes sometimes ground, while whole seed is used for nutritious drinks and as a food source.

The word chia is derived from the Nahuatl word chian, meaning oily.

In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing up to 5% of a bread product’s total matter.

Chia seed may be eaten raw as a whole seed, providing protein, fats and fiber. Chia seeds placed in water or fruit juice are consumed in Mexico and known as chia fresca.. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits.

They were grown and eaten by ancient civilizations such as the Aztecs and Mayans. In fact, “Chia” means strength in Mayan. Today, they are a diet staple of the Tarahumara, an ancient Mexican tribe, who reside in Copper Canyon. The Tarahumara rely on these seeds to enhance their endurance by naturally hydrating on runs of 20, 50, or even 100-miles!

What are the nutritional benefits of Chia seeds

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Endurance enhancing
No cholesterol
Extensive hydration properties
Anti-inflammatory properties
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
High soluble fiber content helps to reduce your sweet tooth cravings
Chia contains 20% more protein than found in other grains
More natural anti-oxidants than blueberries
Digested and absorbed easily
Helpful for weight maintenance or loss

Chia seed facts

The chia plant (Salvia hispanica), sometimes referred to as chia sage, originated in the central valley of Mexico and is a member of the mint family.
Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.
It was the third most important crop for the Aztecs, who recognized it as a “superfood” and prized it so highly that it was often used as currency.
Aztec warriors and runners are believed to have sustained themselves for an entire day
on just a tablespoon of chia.
Chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food, including flax seeds.
Chia seeds are about 20% protein.
When soaked in water for 30 minutes, chia seeds form a thick gel. This gel also forms in the stomach when chia seeds are consumed. That sounds bad, but researchers believe it actually slows down the rate at which digestive enzymes turn carbs into sugar, making it especially beneficial for diabetics and others with blood sugar issues. Chia is hydrophilic and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. This makes it helpful in maintaining body hydration, something that is especially beneficial for athletes who need to remain hydrated during races and endurance activities.
Chia seeds are so high in antioxidants that they do not spoil easily and can be stored for long periods, unlike flax seeds.

References:

“The effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on hypertension in patients with type II diabetes”.

"Hibiscus sabdariffa L. tea (tisane) lowers blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adult”.

“AHA 2008: Hibiscus Tea Reduces Blood Pressure”.

“Hibiscus Tea Lowers Blood Pressure”.

Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It’s a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels : Grossman, Anne Chotzinoff; Thomas, Lisa Grossman ISBN 0393045595

Valencia & the Costa Blanca, Miles Roddis, Lonely Planet, 2002, ISBN 1740590325 Google Books

MTV Spain, Fernando Gayesky, Elizabeth Gorman, Kristin Luna, Andre Legaspi, Frommer’s, 2007, ISBN 0764587722 Google Books

Herrera-Arellano A, Miranda-Sánchez J, Avila-Castro P, et al. (January 2007). “Clinical effects produced by a standardized herbal medicinal product of Hibiscus sabdariffa on patients with hypertension. A randomized, double-blind, lisinopril-controlled clinical trial”. Planta Med. 73 (1): 6–12. doi:10.1055/s-2006-957065. PMID 17315307.

México Celebrates Life

Our tradition of commemorating the dead is one of the most endearing and widespread in our country. Is eminently religious Christian foundations not only taken from the custom of “honor the faithful dead”, but retains many of the characteristics of the funeral ritual practiced by our pre-Hispanic ancestors. The rituals of “Velacion” the placement of altars and offerings in homes and cemeteries to pay homage to the dead, are the result of a complex network that brings together various cultural traditions: on the one hand, the native pre-Columbian and on the other the Christian Spanish conquest came with us, besides themselves from other groups in Africa, Asia and Europe who migrated to Mexico during the colonial and later in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

The Day of the Dead in Mexico is not a mournful commemoration but a happy and colorful celebration where death takes a lively, friendly expression. Indigenous people believed that souls did not die, that they continued living in Mictlan, a special place to rest. In this place, the spirits rest until the day they could return to their homes to visit their relatives. Before the Spaniards arrived, they celebrated the return of the souls between the months of July and August. Once arrived, the Spaniards changed the festivities to November 2nd to coincide with All Souls’ Day of the Catholic Church. Presently, two celebrations honoring the memory of loved ones who have died take place: On November 1st, the souls of the children are honored with special designs in the altars, using color white on flowers and candles. On November 2nd the souls of the adults are remembered with a variety of rituals, according to the different states of the Mexican republic.

The celebrations of Day of the Dead or All Souls Day are referred to differently in some of the states. yucatan it is known as Hanal Pixan which means “The path of the soul through the essence of food;” in the highlands of Michoacan it is known as Jimbanqua or the party honoring with flowers the people who died that year; in San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and in the southern part of Oaxaca it is known as Xantolo and Day of the Dead in the majority of Mexico. Whatever name is given, this is an ancestral tradition that blended with Catholicism to create a special time and space to remember and honor the loved ones by offering them an ofrenda, the fragrance of the flowers, the light of the candles, the aroma of special foods and the solemnity of prayers. It is also a time to joke and make fun of death through “calaveras”, poetry allusive to a particular person, generally politicians; sugar, chocolate and amaranth skulls which are given to one another with their friend’s name so “they can eat their own death” and special crafts allusive to different aspects of the living, with skeletons representing daily activities.

People start getting ready for the celebration on the third week of October with the harvesting of the cempasuchitl flower, also known as the flower of the twenty petals or the flower of the dead which is sold in the market place or Tianguis, where the family goes to buy everything that they will need to put on the altar. On the altar they will place the ofrendas of fruits, vegetables and the special dishes prepared for the soul to enjoy the essence of the aroma of the food. This altar will also have items that once belonged to the deceased.

The altar includes four main elements of nature...

Earth, wind, water, and fire.

Altars have many different meanings, like the representation of the monarchs butterflies, with the flowers of cempasuchitl, the flower of the twenty petals that represents the fire of the soul of the warriors of the people that died.

In pre-Hispanic era monarch was the subject of study, worship and respect Mexican name like Papaloapan (river of butterflies) or Papalotepec (hill of butterflies), reflecting the importance they had the monarch butterflies. The ancient Aztecs believed that when the butterflies came, it meant returning the souls of the dead and rested on the wings spirits of Aztec warriors.

In ancient times the butterfly was transformed into a goddess, which in turn was a symbol of love, goddess of flowers, vegetation, representing the fire and many other functions.

With the Cempasuchitl flower we represent the monarch butterflies as the fire soul of the dead warriors.

Each November, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies from the U.S. and Canada arrive in this rugged, mountainous region in Michoacán State, about 60 miles west of Mexico City. The phenomenon, often equated with the annual movement of some 1.3 million wildebeests in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, is considered one of the greatest migrations on earth.

The migratory route of the monarchs is believed to be thousands of years old, and legends about the butterflies are rooted in native Mexican culture. Because the monarchs first arrive in November around the Day of the Dead, a big national holiday, many villagers believe that they carry the souls of the departed revisiting the homeland. “It’s got to involve a capacity to respond to celestial clues, and the ability to follow the sun but correct for the time of day”

Bread for Dead for the long trip!

The bread is used on altars prepared for the spirits of the dead so they can have some sustenance for the long trip.

The bread can be formed into different shapes and is commonly decorated with sugar. Bread is ALWAYS placed on the altar and not removed until the visit to the cemetery for the soul. A loaf of bread is also traditionally given to visitors who come home during the time of celebration. The must common shape sold in the Mexico City bakeries is round and decorated with a cross in the shape of bones covered with sugar.

One of the many recipes!

For the dough:

2 tablespoons of anise seeds
2 packages (1/2 ounce) of active dry yeast
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons of orange blossom water
1 tablespoon of orange zest, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4-5 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour

For the glaze:

1 egg, lightl beaten combined with 1 tablespoon of water

For the toppings:

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup of sugar

Bring 1/4 cup of water to a boil and pour over anise seeds in a heatproof bowl. Set aside until cool, about 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, combine 1/2 cup of warm water (110-115 degrees) and yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and bubbles, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Strain the cooled anise water into the yeast and discard the seeds. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, yolks, eggs, orange blossom water, orange zest, and salt to combine. Using a mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment on low speed, add four cups of flour, one cup at a time. Continue to beat on medium, until the dough just begins to pull away from sides of bowl.

Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in remaining cup of flour, as needed, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball place into a large, greased mixing bowl, immediately turning over so that all sides are greased. Cover with a piece of lightly greased plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. At this point it can be refrigerated over night and brought to room temperature before proceeding.*

Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into equal parts or keep whole to make one large round. Pinch off 1/4 of each piece for decorations. Line a baking sheet with a non-stick liner or greased parchment paper and set aside.

Pan de Muerto

Form the large part of each piece into a ball. With the flat of your hand, push each ball down the dough to form a circle about 1 inch thick and place on baking sheet. With the remaining dough, form one small ball, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches, for each round and one long rope of dough to shape the “bones”. In the center of each round, make a small indentation, form the bottom side of each ball into a point and attach to the round. Using the long rope of dough, cut off pieces as needed to form into long bones and attach to the ball in the center so that they radiate outwards. Repeat with each round.

Lightly cover and set aside in a warm, draft free place until doubled in bulk, about 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Gently brush egg glaze over dough and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes for small pieces and up to 45 minutes for larger loaves. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Immediately brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Set aside to cool.