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The Verdad La Mexicana Comida Esta Out There….

1 Aug

So these three youthful Midwesterners are at NYC’s La Guardia airport baggage claim abuzz with anticipatory crackish then/Red Bullish ahora pre-embarking adrenaline rush exclusive to both visitors and residents of Gotham and maximum security prisons.


What today would have been a text and/or tweet shared among friends we the public actually participated – okay eavesdropped – in their animated public discourse.

And what today would have been a Yelp! search actually turned into a lively debate with real opinions shared from real live experience instead of online strangers.

To the dulcet caterwaul – with occasional thud – of a luggage carousel – this husky body politic weighed in on Chicago vs New York pizza: ‘I can’t wait to try Domino’s. I bet it’s way better here.’ ‘No way, ‘Yes way’ ‘No way’ ‘yes way’ ‘Chicago’ ‘New York’ Chicago New York and on and on and on and maybe text might have been less Valley Girly and distracting so the rest of us could focus on our opinions and obvious superior big city sophisticated taste, grab bags, turn up noses, bolt.


All but yo en verdad. Mi cargo fue returning con yo from Mexico. While the fuerte opinions blogged aqui suggest otrowise. I am still here to tell you the only reason Taco Bell en Mexico is better albeit more authentic than Taco Bell en Esatdos Unidos por que you get to order en Espanol.


And even though I’ve been called a snob because I refuse to eat @Chipotle – which is to Mexico as Red Lobster is to the sea – you can’t feed a more Catholic, democratic, open and omnivorous maw than mine. Beyond therapy for my PTAzMexSD, the entire purpose of this here blogging a la Marco Pollo is to document my quest for el Cocina Mexicana ultima outside the friendly confines of mi beloved Sonoran desert. I know it exists, even if I have to make it so in mi own cocineria por ejemplo:



I can’t believe you’re not Midwesternican pollo asado y chile verde y cream of chicken y corn tortillas that taste like dumplings y cheese casserolenchiladas


The chipotle variation (the chile not the chain)


North Carolina BBQ pork/Trader JoseNM salsa verde/avocado/refried frijoles/Trader Jose flour tort/burro


Elotes/frijoles/pollo asado tacos con cilantro y radishes from our urban parking garage rooftop garden

Or when I have to burn $5 on some breakfast burrito from Pret-a-Porte labeled ‘Southwestern’ because maybe that’s what Mexican food is like in France?


Egg Soufflé (Cage free) Refried Black Bean Salsa Red Peppers Cheddar Red Onions Tortilla Wrap


*To the credit of the Midwesterners who I had no intention of having personify the acronym IOWA (idiots out wandering aimlessly) the very same week I took again to wandering yet again NYC’s sts/aves rather aimlessly, confident enough in my Espanol lengua to order for lunch – much to the delight of the entire diner – a Cubana Torta’ (trans: Cuban Prostitue) and also overheard the following exchange along the way:

Scene: 8th Ave, Times Square, NYC before the greasy window of a Chinese take-out joint tastefully appointed with garlands of Peking Duck.


Cast: Two young men with Long Island accents sporting Yankees caps – backwards….of, course – studying the menu:


‘Peking Duck?’


‘How the fuck they know that duck’s

from Peking?’
And it probably tasted just as good as Long Island duck in Chinatown Chicago.

Painting the Joy of Cooking Brown con AzChiNMexi Mac y Cheese

2 Apr

If there is a more all-encompassing gring@ cookbook I dunno it. The revised version of The Joy of Cooking is that of which I blog, not mine. The pre-PC original – on the otro mano – could at least pass for aboriginal. Recipes for vermin, including skinning instructions – IMO – transcend borders and ethnicity.


Yet like every other cultural icon worth it’s weight in insensitivity – The J o’ C got censored/edited by the PC Orwell wannabes in the PC 80s/90s. (Exception: Speedy Gonzales.) Thank god the copy I inherited escaped a Fahrenheit 451 ending, though the dust jacket lost to a gravy spill and and several fingers of bourbon on the counter of Southeners who may or may not have had slaves in the family were absorbed into its pages and spine.



So no, this copy’s geneology is anything but PC or artery-friendly. Yet, again, I knew I had to blow the cobwebs off Ye Olde JoC for some non direction with the culinary kindling left in la casa of late. Being stranded aqui (esposa y dos los ninos viaje en FLA) during Chicago’s final four March Madness Blizzards stirred up a hankering for a casserole as warm and hearty as a sweater mi imagniary abuela might have knitted you, between slurps of beaver tail soup.


Fresh out of squirrel and ammo, I deferred to a pollo chi-chis, marinated and grilled, tossed in the obligatory sack ‘o NM chile verde, and got slightly carried away with the Mexican oregano to give an otherwise high gring@ dish some much needed color. The latter resuced the dish when any one of the main ingredients went missing, curiously rounding out each bite should a chicken chunk or green chile slip off the spoon.


Mi Imaginary Abeula’s Big Ol’ Feliz Casserole alias

Painting the Joy of Cooking Brown


El Mac y Cheese y NM Green y Pollo Sweater




Follow the instructions from Pre-PC J o C aqui


AZ/NM/Mexify con:

Pollo asado chunks (recipe is your call)

NM Chile Verde

Stir into the milk/egg “batter”

1 tsp Mexican oregano y 1 tsp NM red chile powder

Quatro queso Italiano blend + parmesean

Sprinkled topping: NM red chile powder/crunched up Donkey yellow corn tortilla chips.

Top Chicago Taco #6: El Piojo Pollo asado con faux-mole y sweat

3 Jul

Q 1: wouldn’t it be something if in our charts and stats mad mad mad mad World Cup world some mad mad mad mad statistician concocted a formula for measuring the statistical significance of match sweat?

A 1: No, you are right, that would be gross and has no place on a food blog.

Q 2: What can I blog but deranged contemplations under the influence of binge Fifa viewing and/or the sleep deprivation dementia which accompanies the arrival of a new son? (Hola El Niño dos, welcome to week two on el mundo and El Cupo Del Mundo 2014.)

A 2: Mas mad mad mad mad pensars, at once deeply profound and slightly culturally insensitive, por ejemplo:

1. It is not against Fifa rules to field a rhinoceros aka the The Belgian Lukaku


2. Now that the White House has made it a personal GOOOAAAALLLL to kick out some 100K Mexican/South/Central American immigrant children, come World Cup 2018 when faced with any opponent south of The Border Wall Team USA's fans will take to chanting 'Give us back our Latinos'

Get it? No? Then bone up on yer NED bike history with this here good book before reading any further:


3. NED Team Oranje’s Arjen Robben’s pre-match playlist:

Q 3: Doesn’t all this pensando make you hungry? Sweaty?

A 3: No, but eating this brilliant taco honoring the madness of El Tri’s El Rey El Piojo did/will/do:


Marinade boneless chicken breast overnight in this faux-mole:
1/4 cup olive oil
Tsp/tbsp chipotle powder
Tsp garlic powder
Tequila shot
Lime squeeze
Pinches of cocoa powder y cinnamon y Mexican oregano y allspice
Salt and pepper enough to taste

Grill @ 450 5 minutes per side
Cover w/foil, set aside for 5 minutes

Warm up corn torts on dry, hot skillet.

Top chopped pollo con finely diced raw onions y fresh porch garden to mesa cilantro and tu favorito queso blanco.

Photograph, eat, sweat, scream, repeat.


The Diff is the Riff

23 Oct

In the beginning…

IFLAG was founded on the principle that amongst the feeding millions there must be at least a couple of gringos like me whose culinary Corazon knows no love greater than that of the cuisine of Mexico – the Original Mexico, stretching el Norte to Oregon.


Well, this hombre’s metaphorical heart, just as some prophetic poet waxed, has been ripped out by and sent on a journey around the world for good with last year’s arrival of the little buckaroo. Anywhere he goes so go I. The boy’s owns me like so many ex-Guvs’ Cook County Rolexes. And because this is I am more or less his father, I anyways owe to him a minimum of several thousand “HFS”s daily…and no, dearest CPS, I do not refer her to “Hos Fo Sho”. He hasn’t actually found the front door out. Mostly adventures happen here in Chicago, pops at the wheel to a soundtrack plucked on ukulele strings.



Don’t hate the game, hate the playa (as in Ice-T, not the beach – sorry Tyga.)

While nobody’s gonna hashtag me the Hendrix or Heifetz or Khorshid of the uke in this lifetime, my remedial musical skills somehow doubled down as this week’s muse.


Diga me: most pre-sampling popular songs can be realized on only three to four chords, quite often THE SAME THREE OR FOUR CHORDS. Across the decades I’ve listened to hundreds of thousands of songs and never really picked up on the profundity of this fact. What’s the diff? “The Riff”.


Uno, dos, one, two tres, quatro….

It should have been as obvious as the salsa on my sleeves, shoes, and son: Most Awesome Mexican-American dishes are made using THE SAME THREE TO FOUR (give or take a minor Aeolian augmented second note) ingredients. The Diff = The Riff.


Por lo tanto

Let us then riff on chicken, cheese, chile, beans, tomatoes, guac and tortillas (never to revisit this small beer metaphor again ever). These note’s I’ve riffed on pretty much every day since I heard the first three chords to “I Fought The Law” which is also “White Riot” and/or “Highway To Hell” which is also “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and/or “Bad Moon Rising” which is also “Blitzkrieg Bop” all of which sound amazing on the uke, as played by others.


The Main Ingredient


The Main Ingredients


The Power Chord: Greco-Roma Grilled Chicken Breasts

Marinade overnight in:

Trader Joe’s Olive Oil

Salt/Pepper/Mexican Oregano/Rosemary/Garlic Powder to taste

Pre-heat grill to 500-600. Grill five minutes a side, covered.

Major Chords

Tomato and/or salsa

Shredded cheddar  and/or smoked cheddar (from Tenuta’s in Kenosha)

Pinto beans (refried and caned or dry/boiled/salt & peppered)

Avocado and/or Guacamole

Roasted NM Green Chile and/or Roasted Jalapeno

Tortillas and/or Fritos

Minor Chords:

Roasted corn



The Hits

Thin Crust Smoked Cheddar Chicago-Style Mexican Pizza

Chic-Mex Thin Crust Pizza

Roasted Jalapeno/Chicken/Pinto/Cheese/Scallion/Heirloom tomato/upside-down Frito pie


Tacos Del Halsted con pollo y maize

Chi-mex taco

The Notorious B.I.G.

You Will Know Us By The Trail of Blue-haired Cross-dressers

17 Oct

You may know him as the tortilla/diaper model, having been featured on IFLAG last June. No need to name names. Protect him from the NSA and future stalkers and/or bullies. Besides, he only really answers to dog barks, wolf howls and food. I mention the little critter here because our canine conversations inspired me to set the alarm clock early enough to hammer out a catch-up post. I have approximately 90 minutes to complete a post chock full of sabrosa feedings (and feelings) before said boy starts howling for his Chi-Mexless mix breakfast. Such is the schedule of a new/old papa grande.


If you’re still with me, great, though I figured maybe the mention of dogs and wolves on a mostly food blog might send even the most adventurous eater running to the ASPCA. Other major turn-offs: diapers and hummus.


There is a method to all this meandering.

It occurred to me yesterday how vital reconnecting to this blog, and the English language as communicated by grown-ups, albeit at a 3rd Grade reading level. Too much son can turn the brain into Gerbers.

Running late to work and confounded by Ventra, Chicago CTA’s latest public transportation pass upgrade/get-rich-quick-scheme/fiasco I hoped on a DIVVY – CTA gem  – to pedal Wicked Witch of the West fast to work. (Note to DIVVY designers: a 4th or 5th gear please? And maybe slow down on distribution. Rode past three full docks last week. Hey CTA! Two words: supply & demand.)

I didn’t get all Wizard of Ozy and cackle and screeh “I’ll get you my pretty,” yet spending most non-work waking hours immersed in the vernacular of a toddler finally overtook me at a traffic signal. A young Taylor Swift fan pulled up next to me in her forest green Saturn, this blissfully mild autumn morning, windows rolled down, stereo crancked. Riding shotgun her fellow blissed out traveler, her rescue mutt, hung his head out the window for a good pant. Overcome by this still life, I began to bark and say “doooogie googie doogie poochie poochie pooh”. Taylor Swift yanked her pooch in by the collar, rolled up the windows and nearly knocked me off the DIVVY making a hard right away getaway from this barking loon.

If only this weren’t the second public baby-babble/holwing outburst this week.

Background: In a desperately hilarious sad sack SAHD tome I read prior to the tortilla model’s arrival the author slyly creates a mix CD of his favorite animal songs to play for his kids that also serves to provide the reader a hip-ness check list.

Cut To: Taking a note from this book (hyuck) and upping the ante, I created both a iApe and iDog tunes folders. Obviously Snoop is number one with a bullet (hycuk 2.0) with George Clinton riding shotgun. The lesser known – to my middle/indeterminate aged ears -is a ‘Big Bad Wolf” (NC-17 video closes out this post), which is, as they say on the BBC, “a real banger”.  Even though dance tracks are really songs and don’t really have choruses, this chorus of this song is incredibly danceable and sing-a-ble “The big bad wolf, hoowwoooooohhh”. The UK sausage comparison becomes obvious.

If you are still with me it’s obvious where this new paragraph is heading. So yes, with the tortilla model faced out, strapped into the Bjorn for all the world to fawn over and adore, we strolled merrily along north up Halsted street. Lost in the bliss known only to a 1 y.o . tortilla model and his pop aroused on such outings, I unconsciously broke out singing “Big Bad Wolf”, replete with howls and beats…at top volume causing a 6’3’ blue-haired cross-dresser to scurry, no, sprint through traffic towards safety.

Or the tortilla model might put it:

Q: Why did the blue haired cross-dresser cross the road?

A: The Big Bad Wolf.


All of this of course, an exhaustingly prolix explanation and/or excuse for the dearth of posts – it’s not like I’m not eating – while a lot of comida rico continues to go in my mouth all that’s come out – until now – is HOOOWWWWLLLLLll….anyway, onto the the vittles:

Colorado Cantaloupe w/ Lime and New Mexico Chile Powder

Rocky Ford Cantalope with lime and NM Red Chile powder

Inhaled this astounding combination daily in DF, 2000 – along with a considerable amount of smog. No better way to have melon. Same holds true for a Southern (as in Dixie) version: Honeydew w/ lemon and black pepper.

Taost and Hot Honey Monkey Toast



Layers: butter, cream cheese, raspberry preserves, green chile

Hot Honey Monkey Toast

Layers: butter, peanut butter, banana slices, hot honey

Pollo Asado del Magico Realisticimo

This one talks in stereo to your lengua – not unlike those parrots in Love In The Time of Cholera.

Seriously, if you can whip up a better marinade shoot me an email with directions: to you casa, for dinner, pronto….




Marinade boneless chicken breasts overnight in the following mix; adjust to your preferences:

¼ cup Trader Joe’s Virgin Olive Oil

tsp salt

tsp black pepper

pinch Mexican oregano

tbls red chile powder

tsp red chile powder (from same spice section as oregano: “ethnic foods”)

few shakes of garlic powder and Goya Adoba

juice of 1/3-1/2 lime

Splash of tequllla

The Next Day:

Heat grill to 500 degrees min

Let pollo reach room temperature

Grill covered 5 minutes a side

Remove from grill and cover with aluminum foil for 5 minutes

Serve chopped/sliced/whole/on a stick/in a tortilla/etc


Exhibit A: Torta


Layers: smushed black beans, tomatoes, PAMR, roasted jalapeno, avacado

Pan: La Boulangerie