Guest MumChef: Viva Mexicana
On the 18th August 2012 we are very lucky to have Maria Elena (Leny for short), the mother of one of my best friends from Mexico cooking for us! She is visiting from Mexico for the summer with a suitcase full of ingredients, and is a great cook...ably assisted by her daughter of course who will be contributing her version of ceviche amongst other things.
Mexico is a very large country, with almost twice the population of the UK. Consequently its cuisine varies greatly across regions. The northern cuisine is characterised by "fajitas", "burritos" and other relatively simple dishes, is probably the best known to the world, and ironically the simplest and less interesting. Of far greater gastronomical value are the cuisines of the centre (Puebla), the southeast (Yucatan Peninsula), and the coast (Veracruz being the prime example). Veracruz's cuisine has had many foreign influences due to it being a major port.
Chocolate comes from pre-Spain Mexico, and no festival is complete without Mole Poblano. Mole means "mixture" and Poblano means "from Puebla". For its preparation, this dish usually requires many ingredients and numerous people; in villages, each woman is allocated a task, some clean the chillies, other toast them other grind them; then there is the chocolate to mix and other spices to add. You can think of this dish as a dark -chocolate and chilli based chicken curry.
The coast of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico, usually offers fish-based cold dishes that try to refresh as much as they try to delight. Legend says that the word Ceviche means to saturate or penetrate, which rightly reflects the way raw fish is cooked in lime juice. Leny's family are from Xalapa, the state capital of Veracruz - and true to form, both her grandfathers were foreign, one from Spain and the other German. Plantain pudding is a typical dessert from the estate that her mother grew up on, and I can testify to her refried black beans which my friend recreates - the best I ever had.
From the Yucatan Peninsula (land of the Mayan culture), comes tonight's Pollo Pibil. Pib is the Mayan word for the traditional oven, which is still used in villages today. It is prepared by digging a rectangular pit about 1 meter deep. The bottom is filled with large stones that are heated with a wood fire. We offer our version of this dish tonight.
No Mexican dinner is complete without a Guacamole which means "Avocado Mixture". Guacamole is usually eaten in Mexico as a starter, as a companion to another entree and with tortillas on the side.
Here's the full fantastic menu they will cook:
Guacamole with Pork Rind and Tortilla Chips
Ceviche in baby lettuce leaves with Tortilla chips
Potatoes with poblano chilies
Mexican courgettes with sweet corn and onion
Stir fried mushrooms with onion and epazote
Chicken in Mole Poblano (chocolate and dry chillies curry sauce)
Pork Pibil (Yucatecan pork in a pibil marinade with achiote (annatto) and juice of seville or bitter oranges)
Mexican style white rice
Refried black beans
Mexican salsas (tomatillo and red sauce)
Flan (Mexican Creme brulee)
Price for this very special dinner will be £40 of which £35 will go direct to MSF.
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