Traditional Mexican Food Archive

Rustic quesadillas de xocoyol, in the Estado de México

This past weekend, I visited some new friends at their home in Xalatlaco, a small city in the State of Mexico. For breakfast -- a late breakfast for me, around 11 a.m. -- they made quesadillas de xocoyol. The plant, which grows in nearby corn fields in June and July only, has a sharp, citrusy,

How dried corn becomes masa, or nixtamal

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

Corn tortilla taste test: Mi Rancho

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

How to shape homemade corn tortillas, without a press

I'm still not an expert at making corn tortillas without a press, but I was in awe of this woman at the Mole Festival in San Pedro Atocpan. Her name is Bertha Reyes Romero and she was the quesadilla-maker at one of the restaurants. Her hands worked so fast that I asked if I could

How to peel walnuts for chiles en nogada, 19th-century nun style

Once I decided I was going to make homemade chiles en nogada this year, I became obsessed with peeling my own walnuts. Skinless, pristine walnuts are a requirement for the nogada, the creamy sauce that covers the Poblano pepper. The sauce must be white to reflect one of the colors of the Mexican flag; walnut

A portrait: my molcajete and metate

I finally brought them home from cooking school. On the upper-left corner of the metate, you can still see the stains from the cacao beans from the time we made chocolate from scratch.

The life of a nun in Nueva España

One of the things I’ve learned in my Mexican History and Gastronomy program is that to understand Mexican cuisine, you really have to know what was happening in the convents during the viceregal period. The viceregal period refers to when Mexico was ruled by the Spanish crown, from 1521 to 1821. Yesterday Edmundo gave us

Homemade pineapple atole

Part of me really did think that since I made pineapple atole before in cooking class, I'd be a whiz on it the second time around. That wasn't the case. In my own kitchen, without my classmates looking over my shoulder, I didn't dissolve my masa very well. I ended up with little hard bits

The perfect gift for a Mexican-food lover

Last week over lunch at El Cardenal, one of the restaurant’s owners, Marcela Briz, stopped by our table. Dining with me were some fancy guests -- Penny, two chefs from the States and Ruth Alegria. So Señora Briz graciously gave us each a little present: a lotería game she researched and designed based on traditional