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Posts Tagged ‘Mexican food’

Many people have memories of a favorite meal. I have memories of a favorite food; a food that I had every day so, while not “special” it was special to me and holds very fond memories for me.

Tortillas de harina. Flour tortillas. My mom made them every day, fresh for every meal. For breakfast we might have huevos con chorizo or plain old eggs or menudo, but we always had fresh tortillas. On the rare occasion that we had pancakes (only my Uncle Joe fixed pancakes for us) or French toast, we didn’t have tortillas and I found that I missed them and sitting with my mom at the table while she rolled them out and cooked them on the griddle.

I guess maybe that’s what was so special about them. My mom made them and I got to sit at the table to watch her make the masa and form the testales and then roll out the tortillas (she only made masa once a day, usually, saving enough for the later meals). As she rolled more out, some would be on the comal, cooking. The smell in the kitchen was of warmth and freshness and love as those tortillas de harina cooked. When the first was finished cooking, I would get to eat it as soon as it cooled enough but was still warm and fresh. While she rolled them out and cooked them, we got to talk. I would ask her what she was doing and why, not only about the tortillas but about whatever she happened to be cooking for our meal. I watched her closely, even when I was just a toddler, probably hoping that by watching I would learn. (And I did!)

Tortillas de harina are not only delicious with a meal, they can be a meal when you wrap them around the just right ingredients. Everything goes in flour tortillas. Everything. My favorites, besides actual food, include pieces of chocolate wrapped inside of a right off of the griddle tortillas…nice and gooey as it melts. And you’ll probably think it’s strange but my absolute favorite is arroz con leche wrapped in a tortilla de harina…arroz con leche is rice pudding…delicious!

That’s my favorite food…flour tortillas…especially as my mother made them all those years ago. There is nothing as delicious as those memories.

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Enchiladas

I think we all know them as tortillas with chile on them and filled with all manner of good stuff and topped with cheese. However, a friend’s recent Facebook post reminded me that I didn’t always know enchiladas as being stuffed and rolled.

 

Traditionally, an enchilada is just a tortilla fried and dipped in chile salsa and served flat and stacked. That’s what a true enchilada is. However, when people began adding stuffing and toppings to them, they evolved into what we know them now, although few of us know the extent of the variety to be found in enchiladas.

 

As I was growing up, the only kind of enchildas we had were corn tortillas fried then dipped in the salsa and then sprinkled with chopped onion and shredded cheese and stacked one on top of the other. No meat. No rolling up. Nothing fancy. This is how my parents had always known and had enchiladas and how we, all the kids, had them. In fact, this is how they were and still are served in many parts of northern Mexico…or at least those that have not yet been inundated with tourists. Then we rented the “apartment” side of our house to a couple and became good friends with them. The husband taught my mom how to make enchiladas stuffed with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, olives, and cheese, then rolled up and topped with more chile sauce and cheese then put in the oven to melt the cheese and kind of set all the ingredients. Very delicious. The only sad thing is that after that, we never had the also very delicious flat and stacked enchiladas that my mom used to make. In fact, I had forgotten all about them until my friend’s post!

 

Years later, when I married, my husband used to say that I should learn to make enchiladas suizas like his mother always made. I had never heard of them! He explained that they were chicken enchiladas topped with sour cream and avocado. That didn’t sound too good to me because although I love avocado, I dislike sour cream but I listened and thought about it. I just didn’t know how they were made. Then I found a cookbook with favorite recipes of home economics teachers. I don’t remember where I found it but it was one of those cookbooks put together as a fundraiser. As I looked through it, I found a recipe for chicken enchiladas that included sour cream and avocado as a topping. I was really excited to try it and when I made them, my husband liked them. A lot. So success! Or at least success until the next time we went to visit his mom and dad. He told his mom about the enchiladas and she asked me how I made them. I explained it to her and she said they weren’t really enchiladas because I didn’t dip them in chile salsa and that’s what made them enchiladas. So the next time I made them, I fried the tortillas and dipped them in salsa, just like I used to do with the beef ones I had learned to make, but I stuffed them with the chicken mixture (secret recipe which I let everyone in on if they ask) and served them with guacamole and sour cream on the table to be added by each person. Wow! The reaction I got was incredible!

 

It became my specialty dish. For many years I served them for the faculty at the kids’ elementary school for Cinco de Mayo and whenever asked to bring a dish to a luncheon or dinner, it was my chicken enchiladas that were most requested. And then, after my divorce, I became very active with my college alumni association and brought my chicken enchiladas to every function. I haven’t made them in a while but my son is visiting soon so maybe it’s time to whip up a batch!

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