Author Archive

Pati Jinich, a Mexican chef with a television show on PBS, almost spent her career as a Latin American policy analyst. (Which is crazy, because she’s excellent on TV: warm, charismatic, approachable.) Then, about eight years ago, while working for a Washington D.C. think tank and researching a paper on Peru’s Sendero Luminoso, she found her mind wandering to ceviches. She told herself: “This is nuts.” She quit her job and entered L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where she earned a degree in Intensive Culinary Skills. In March, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published her first cookbook, Pati’s Mexican Table, which […]

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This morning, at a coffee stand inside the Terminal del Norte bus station in Mexico City: Me: I’d like a cafe americano with milk, please. Young woman: We don’t sell an americano with milk. You can get a black coffee or a cappuccino. Me: Can’t I just get a small amount of milk in my coffee? YW: No. Me: What if I paid extra? It’s only a very small amount of milk that I want. YW: We don’t sell americanos with milk. Me: What if I paid for a cappuccino? And you could give me an americano with just a […]

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Breakfast in Mexico City is one of my favorite meals. Usually it’s a fruit plate or a glass of freshly squeezed juice, followed by a heavy, spicy, substantial dish that will keep you satiated until the 3 p.m. lunch hour. Pancakes in DF can be a dinnertime snack. The most typical Mexican breakfasts offer a lovely array of textures: the half-crunch, half-sog of a perfectly executed plate of chilaquiles; the spongy curl of a piece of chicharrón drowned in salsa verde, the toothsome bite of a grilled cactus paddle paired with a slab of queso panela. Everything comes with a […]

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Since moving to New York, Crayton and I have suffered from intense salsa deprivation. It took me awhile to start making my own because I kept looking for chile de árbol, the go-to red table salsa ingredient in Mexico City. But the chiles de árbol in Queens always looked stemless and old and sad. The best-looking dried chile in New York, hands down, is the chipotle — a fact no doubt tied to the large numbers of Poblano immigrants who live here. (Qué viva Puebla York!) The chipotle is hugely popular in Puebla. It’s served in salsa with tacos árabes, […]

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Until yesterday, I’d never smelled a handful of kaffir lime leaves. The ones I smelled were frozen, sheathed in a little plastic bag at the Inthira Thai Market in Woodside. Event through plastic the smell was unforgettable: sharp and green and sour like lime juice, with the flowery perfume of a lemon and maybe the grassiness of a curry leaf. I inhaled deeper and actually moaned a little, which might’ve scared my friend Vikas but I think made the Thai lady at the cash register smile. The market, just a few subway stops from my house, had other goodies. Little […]

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Just wanted to steer your attention to this quick piece I wrote for Culinary Backstreets, about mango season in Mexico City and what it means to me now that I’ve developed a mango allergy. Does this mean no more mango pico de gallo for me? Yes, probably. At least I still have avocados. I’ve seen mangoes a little bit here in New York, but it’s not an explosion like it is in DF. That said, I’m super excited to experience all the other great things about spring and summer here, like fresh tomatoes, corn and peaches. My local green market […]

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Tlacoyos are small, flattened masa pockets that are stuffed with either beans, cheese or fava beans and then grilled on a comal. They’re a Mexico City street snack made almost exclusively by women, and usually you can find them near any subway station, market or tianguis. A well-made tlacoyo has a crisp exterior, creamy innards and a tang from a drizzle of salsa and a handful of diced nopales on top. They’re also healthy, since most tlacoyeras don’t add oil. I have enthused about them before. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever made it clear that tlacoyos are actually […]

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I’d been kind of nervous about visiting Mexico City so soon after moving to New York. Five weeks in a new place is not long enough to put down roots, and a glimpse of my former life — a two-week glimpse amid gorgeous weather — might unravel the fragile routine I’d built for myself. I had already come to grips with the icy Queens wind (the secret is a warm coat with a hood), and the long hike up the subway steps (burns calories), and the fact that we can’t go out as much because everything costs too much money. […]

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One of my favorite places in the Centro Histórico is an old corn mill on Calle Aranda. It’s one of the few places left in the neighborhood that still grinds dried corn into nixtamal, the dough that forms the base of tortillas, sopes, huaraches, tlacoyos, gorditas and countless other Mexico City street foods. Nixtamal is made from dried corn that’s soaked in a mixture of water and a mineral called calcium hydroxide. The mineral, which can be white and powdery or rock-shaped depending on where you buy it, adds important nutrients to the corn and better enables our body to […]

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Today’s post marks an occasional series I’m launching on this blog called “Tastemakers.” It’ll be a series of Q&As with people doing inspiring things with Mexican or Latin cuisine, in Mexico, New York and elsewhere. If you want to nominate someone, email me. Margarita Carrillo Arronte is among the most well-regarded chefs in Mexico. She’s traveled the world and cooked Mexican cuisine for dignitaries and government officials, and her restaurant in Los Cabos, Don Emiliano, is well-respected and well-regarded. I met her for the first time a few years ago at a Slow Food dinner focusing on tamales, and she […]

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