Author Archive

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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For the past few weeks, meal-planning has made me anxious. I couldn’t think of any dish that would make me feel how I used to in the kitchen — relaxed, happy, a gusto. This is probably because our temporary kitchen had dull knives, no blender and two tiny pots that held four cups of liquid max. One can only make so many two-pot soups before wanting to throw herself into a heap on the floor. Grocery shopping stressed me out, too, because everything in New York is so damn expensive. I read labels and checked prices, but still felt like […]

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While going through some old stuff from high school and college last weekend at my dad’s, I found this book, which I thought I’d thrown out. I opened it and saw that I’d written on the inside. “This book belongs to: Lesley Téllez 6/26/91.” I was 12 years old. I loved this book. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls (a 1970s/80s-era update of the original 1957 version) was my first real cookbook, and I adored the hamburgers with smiley faces on the cover, and the baked bologna-and-egg cups, and the cool picture of a star-shaped watermelon-and-cottage-cheese salad. Granted, the […]

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It’s been 17 days since I had a corn tortilla, and finally, today, I gave in. I bought these Mi Rancho tortillas because they were the best I could find. (I’m in San Diego visiting my Dad this week.) They did not contain wheat or a long list of weird chemicals. (By the way, what’s up with corn tortillas containing wheat? That’s so strange, especially with so many people who are gluten-free.) I thought it’d be fun to start a series of American corn tortilla taste tests, so here are my thoughts on this one. Pros: Loved the phrase “real […]

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I’ve forgotten how easy it is to live in the United States. In the past 11 days, I have: – Thrown the toilet paper in the camode, not the trash can – Received emailed instead of paper receipts – Ordered takeout Indian and Thai takeout online with my credit card – Turned on the hot water and received actual (scalding) hot water in two seconds, instead of waiting and letting the tap run for two, three or four minutes. – Purchased a cell phone plan in 30 minutes, from the man who greeted us when we entered the store (instead […]

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