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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

 

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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

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The chipotle variation (the chile not the chain)

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

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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?

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

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*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.

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

 

‘Peking Duck?’

‘Yeah.’

‘How the fuck they know that duck’s

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

Leftover T-Bird Green Chilenstein Enchiladasserole

6 Dec

Only caught a sense a local radio programme planned to run a piece about some gringo in NM who sent a batch of green chile seeds through the way back machine. His promise: a pre-genetically engineered chile verde = pure, unadulterated, virginal.

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By some reports our contemporary chile verde esta veritable genetic Frankenstein. Y what’s mas, the holocaust has been captured in glorious pixelated color, currently Netflixing. Oh my o my o mi dio.

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Am I alone in both my distaste and distrust the food superstition movement? Though I ‘spose it’s much more of a religious movement, how every time I log on to Netflix or NYTimes.com the documentation on why really only eating only Yeti is safe & ethical anymore grows quicker than AquAdvantage salmon.

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Yoo hoo, a-hem, yo, looky here overevolved Homo sapiens, did it possibly occur to you you are playing right into the hands of food? Look, I don’t want to eat ‘roided out chicken anymore than you do but we gotta keep eating up these mutants into extinction por population control RFN + once them chickens figure out how to wield a bat…we’re goners. chicken_slam_large_2

And C.) Back to the beginning, this supposed ghost of chile past. Pre-Colombian green sounds about as appetizing to me as authentic 1800s hard tack huslted up by a Civil War renactor. You know the breed, the Rebs and Union Oppressors who soak their coat buttons in their own urine, getting down to the last detail just right. Read: scary genetic freaks.

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Call this back to the cave cooking retro, call it vintage, call it pure, I call it playing God with horseshit. Fb Update: The entire universe has evolved several million times over since these supposed ancient seeds were unearthed, re-birthed and planted. Sin Machina de Tiempo: pass, me. Unless of course I can have my helping slathered on a loaf of SPAM. This paring  would be the closest and hopefully equally tastiest approximation of 2015’s T-Giving Leftover Casserole. Mi esposa went organic with the bird I went to the factory with a canned green chile, among other tinned ingredients:

Mira:

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Leftover T-Bird Green Chilenstein Enchiladasserole

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COMO:

Mix:

1-2 Cups leftover T-giving turkey: shredded

Above canned ingredients

Sauteed chopped onions and garlic

Salt, pepper, chile powder, oregano

Leftover turkey gravy

Layer in a buttered casserole dish:

Corn tortillas – Above mix – Mexi-cheese

Bake 350 covered in foil 25 min

uncovered 15 min

Under the broiler 5 minutes

Serve topped with sour cream, black olives, leftover canned cranberries

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Crank. It.

Mexi-Kim Dog Tacos

1 Nov

Fact: the taco truck spawned with the Intuhnet twin sons of different mothers, not the seminal Dan Fogelberg/Tim Weinberg yacth rock LP but both a ‘food truck nation‘ and this here IFLAG blog. Por que all that is true for our survival as a species anymore – until the Intenet rises up and wipes its butt with the last Will Smith standing – lives long and prospers here….wait for it: for eternity. Think Heaven without the streets paved with bling, and in place of gold:  porn.

Okay, how the hell did I end up there?

Intuhnet, sexy succubus of soul & spirit, you marvelously vast wasteland of sin and greed, endless source of ennui and LMAO animated gif, Al Gore’s evil devil child: I rebuke thee!

Back to the mere mortal vituals iPhotoed and inhaled ahora. And so it is with the beaming pride of a rival sibling – as in ‘take this and shove it in your pie hole taco trucks – you may be all way more mister popular and shit but those Korean tacos you sling aren’t fit for dogs as food or with dog filing.’ I’ve sampled Korean tacos far and wide (DC, Az, Chicago) and remained somewhat miffed and gyped. Reminds me of that failed metal/rap wreck: ‘Judgment Night‘. Tacos in the Mexican style and Koren BBQ pretty much make for eating perfection. Mira:

Confession junction: I know full well Korean tacos – which for the sake of hybridization and cultural insensitivity I shall refer to as MexiKim food from here on out – my lesser twin, fell from the womb into the Twitterverse o’ Southern California. Having never eaten MexiKim in the land of its origin, I ‘spose the jury is still hanging out. And hung it shall remain para me. My feelings about visiting Southern California aren’t far from those expressed by acrid poet Philip Larkin when asked ‘Would you ever visit the Orient?’ PL: ‘Only if I can leave the same day.’

So let us leave California to the guy from The X-files,, the poetry to Jon Wayne & my usual rootless blog piffle to the rest of the Intenet until Kingdom Come for the only MexiKim taco that matters, the reason I called y’all to gather aqui ahora:

 

El Mexi-Kim Dog Taco

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While I you may begin to wonder – because of the perponderance of Trader Joe’s products featured here – if I am not indeed Trader Joe himself. Alas, no estoy. (Y si, the irony that TJ’s has it’s origins in SoCal is not lost on mi.)

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  1. Grilled beyond recognition at high heat TJ’s Korean-style Street Sausages
  2. Homemade jalenpeno/brocholili/mayo slaw – mix & add ingredients until slightly sloshy.
  3. Canned cooked hominy, drained
  4. Storemade guacamole and/or avacado slices
  5. Corn tortillas

You could do a lot worse than cueing up this pearl as the grill pre-heats:

Que Viva! Dia de la Muerte.Pilsen/Chicago/Illinois.2103

7 Nov

We got lost.  Dumb-ass smart phone map app fail. One way streets face off. Twilight stop & stop & go & then stop & go traffic some more. Hunger gnawing a second navel. Some more traffic. Heavy weather horizon. Did I mention the traffic? Prisons on the left of me, artist-style-loft condos on the right. Destination unknown.

And yet, who hadn’t been this feliz since the 1999 afternoon he bush-wacked, slogged, dog pedaled and finally ran from a Xalapa, Mexico bus terminal some 300km through monsoon and highway traffic to the slurp up the finest bowl of Caldo de siete mars that ever ran down a gringo’s face. Yo.

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If you go to Dia de la Muerte 2014 take no map or smart phone. That’s hubris. Welcome the God’s gifts and guidance. Trip the cumbia fantastic, d-load a Randy Salazar jr. soundcloud mixtape. Get thee to Pilsen y Little Village and tack around and around and around…round and round.

Por que? Yay Murales! No photographs for me, being behind the wheel con baby on board y en realidad didn’t bother. Photos no doubt rob such pinturas grandes of spirit. If you must, Google image if you can project your search results onto, oh, I dunno the side of a 5-story walk-up. (Gracis los dios del pinturas del barrio Chicago bonito.)

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Of course none of which was even the point of the pilgramage: as always, led by la lengua y el nariz, when we finally docked on a side street, under the watchful eyes of Chavez, Villa et al, and loped up to the community center hosting the evening’s events neither sight nor whiff of comdia de fiesta were to be had, instead angelitos y calaveras y catrinas by floated by the dozens. Another unexpected unearthly delight.

Mira…

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There was

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There was

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There was

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And then there was – of course – food.

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Honky Tonky BBQ, the neighborhood smoke house, provided the cocineria (y chorizo) while an incredible organization from Minnesota (whose name eludes me and searching the internet for tags led me to Jaime Oliver – c’mon Google, gimme a break) conducted by The People’s Cook concocted slightly amazing and no doubt supremely nutritious complimentary taco/burro/tortilla (El Milagro, mi favorito) Mexi-chago food things.

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While all ingredients have made their way onto many of my tortillas separately, admittedly, it never occurred to layer it up and leave out the cheese – which I did not even miss or notice missing until writing this nearly a week later.

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That heavy weather referred to earlier held out no longer and we scurried off to visit the highly-anticipated/touted/fullfilling Nuevo Leon, sadly missing the procession/parade. Let’s leave the restaurant reviews to the restaurant reviewers – and Yelp!.

Still, here’s a still life of shiny barbacoa tacos with sippy bottle.

photo 2y a dulce score outside the front door:photo 3En termindado though, a palarbra or two needs to be dropped about the to voy tortillas available for purchase at the cash register but not to be confused for the Nuevo Leon torts on your grocer’s shelf. My flawed biological RAM won’t permit access to previous post for the origin story. So tambien, a mover manning the unloading of the truck when we re-landed on the shores of Lake Michigan, I found out was from Tucson. As is my habit, whenever I move, and moved a lot I have, I set out, often before setting up utilities, to find hand/homemade tortillas y tamales. My average made Big Papi’s WS 2013 .688

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look like that of a Bad News Bear

images-1Until 2012-13. Until Leon, I hadn’t actually tasted a Chi-Mex home/handmade tortillas. (Tamale’s I’ll get to in another post). The New Lion’s stash lasted not even a week – I’ll be heading Pilsen way Friday for more, yeah, they’re all that and a baggie of burnt, chewy, dry, and free of that starchy/sickly sweet dang wang tang; the curse of pretty much every store-bought tort in the lower 48. Admittedly, they are a bit thicker than what I know and don’t make for very decent burros, but hey, so is/does/n’t Chicago.

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Here’s what got stuffed or inhaled alongside these worshipable torts lately:

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As the IFLAG blog slogan goes, too much thinking can ruin a good meal and I’ve obviously taxed both hemisphere’s for this post because I’m straying from the New Lion tort praise conjuring up comparisons to Salvadorian foodstuffs, thinking maybe these aren’t tortillas after all. Maybe if you read this and were thinking of heading over to Pilsen for a dozen you’d better not because at 5:45PM last Friday I cleared the shelf.  No, really, they’re awful. They crumble, are non-absorbent and aren’t even worth the lard they may or may not have been made with…and oh yeah, watch out for  the zombies.

When tortilla – loosely translated – means serape.

13 Jun

Mas tarde with los bloggings I’ve become so. Realized yesterday I posted Memorial Day munch dos semanas late. If only it were like my Mexican co-workers claim “You’re more Mexican than we are” and I been getting a serious manana on. (Though I heed to the call of the caguama often and am forever picking machaca out of my teeth.)

Si solamente.

No no no…the raison de slacking is El Nino: Oscar. This mighty little despot of 9 months dictates what content his parents can or cannot provide every second of every day.

Too, The Spittin’ Image puts a WWF-sized mandible claw on the contents to his padre’s stomach. It’s all-hands-on Oscar all the time. Adios to tostadas and hard shell tacos to say nothing of chicken wings from Buffalo, fried chicken from The South Loop and hot buttered popcorn from the microwave; the shrapnel of the crunchy tortillas a formidable choking hazard, the slick grease and incendiary sauce of the fried and the nuked a lethal lotion and/or lubricant.

So I’m stuck. Not with discontinuing to feed my inner Mestizo, rather at how to transition from the myopia of new-Dad drivel (diapers, drool, sleep deprivation) to happily happening upon a tortilla on the grocer’s shelves in the Barrio Nuevo that I want to share with all new parents.

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A analogous segue coming to mind confounds same said Mestizo (a palabra) unrecognized by MS Word spell-check) which is that of me the conquistador who discovered gold in the New World, or in my case, Lakeview/Halsted/Boystown crossed by Quixote (a word recognized by MS Word).

Then there’s the second option of taking the name of these near perfect tortillas as a starting point and the fact that the family has taken to attending church smacks both of blasphemy and cultural insensitivity. Neither the Lord nor La Primera Madre appeared on a tort before me. Though, it is something, to my narrow-mind, of El Milagro that at long last, actually about 10 months, flat, floury, foldable, formidable, fabulous, functional, fun. what the “f” (yes, a toddler brings out the cornballer in me).

On a scale of 1-5, El Milagro “burritos” fall right at 4.7. .3 points off for chewy texture and a starchy finish both of which I forgive as this loss is made up for in circumference and diameter. (Size matters in the new hood (adults only link) and El Milagro is the super-heavy-weight chompian ’round these, er, parts.) These blanca beauties are the gigantest. What this means for this new Dad is a return to carne adovada, chile verde, and margarita. With a tighter seal than a face lift (and flyer than a space ship) one can now lose the “itto” and mow through burro after burro without risk of dripping or dribbling piping hot cheese/grease/mole/tequilla onto counter, arm, floor and/or Oscar.

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Nuevo parenting also causes mild cognitive impairment. I so want to recall the name – or link to – a book detailing the advances of pre-Columbus Day Americans. We all learned how the OAs (Original Ancestors) created calendars, experimented with human flight and human cuisine – cut off from Western influences AND Daniel Bourdain. What I wonder is, is if the author uncovered, as I have, how pre-Columbians also invented the edible diaper.

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Behind the tortilla curtain

4 Aug

Not the steel curtain separating the El Norte from Mexico.

Not the film of the book starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Costner either.

Nada. No. Nyet. The Tortilla Cortina of which I blog separates NM torts from AZ ones.

Mi compa del Mexico Nuevo para Nogales, Arizona’s cousin has a saying about the thick, billowing, puffy, chewy round white flat four things that are NM’s version of tortillas, “They’re a waste of flour.” This may be a bit of a stretch.

Or it may be that NMTs aren’t stretched out enough.

No matter. I reserve a soft place in my otherwise cast iron stomach for nearly all variety of tortilla so long as they are as they go by their god-given name, in other words: “un-wrapped.”

So much depends

upon

a white

tortilla

glazed with

(insert ingredients here)

beside the rice

and beans.

Por ejemplo, NM torts make excellent paper towels. They wipe up nigh every last drop. Your own personal Brawny Man in the face of a shimmering plate of carne adovada. When your casita crock pot de carne adovada (recipe to come) burbles “Let’s Eat,” Phx has several outlets where one can score super absorbent semi-fresh ALB Tort Factory torts.

Newsflash: soon the same thing can be said about Bangor, Maine:

(Not “Let’s Eat” but Alb Torts go global blah x 3.)

AZ torts are flatter, wider, drier, grittier and tough enough for even the deep fry baptismal necessary up from which rises the golden chimichanga. (Kinda like our summers.) A safe place to stuff your stuff (and face) with your saucier fillings like green and red chile, chorizo, and clam chowder. The larger circumference provides the tort for essential folds to prevent contents from running down your arm and/or into your lap. (If you are thick enough to try a Chowderitto, send video to: azfeed2002@yahoo.com)

Red Eagle Brand, a local maker/distributor regularly supplies most Phx grocery stores with a variety of sizes in white as well as high hosanna masa maize amarillo (yellow corn). At the home base or operations, El Porvenir sells fresh torts and tamales to go.

 

 

Go forth. Be ready to strap on the feed bag. Don’t be fooled by the factory/filling station façade. Be surprised as I to graze on a full menu of  top-notch AzMex“food”.

 

 

 

Though the owner will tell you straight up (just like she told me when I said, first time I stepped into the dimly lit shop, “I didn’t even know you served food.” ):

“TORTILLAS ARE FOOD.”

Indeed.