Friday, September 14, 2012

A Mexican Meal to Die For!

 Diversity, what does that mean to us CIA kids? Well, it sure opens a lot of doors to international cuisine. I’m sure that I’m not the only student here who gets hyped up when I am told that I will be learning about a foreign specialty or recipe. After all, the U.S.A. is a melting pot and without knowledge of different cultures, what would be the definition of American food? 

This past weekend, I had the great opportunity to work alongside another Residence Assistant in my hall (Pick Herndon), Caleb. Now, I knew that Caleb was Mexican but I never saw him cook authentic, Mexican food. Our family meal was the perfect chance for him to show us what dishes he grew up with and man, was dinner tasty!

When I entered the kitchen, the air was full of smoky scents, reminiscent of hot
peppers.  Caleb was browning ground beef with onions and carrots and potatoes, making for a wonderful aroma that would persuade anybody to walk into the kitchen. I asked him what I could do to help out for dinner and he told me to start making tortillas out of the masa harina. I looked at him like he was crazy, an Italian working with masa? I had no idea what I was about to get myself into!

The masa that Caleb bought was very fine, sand-like and when mixed with water, created a play-dough consistency. The next step was to mold a small ball into a disk and flatten in with my palms. Caleb’s tortillas came out wonderful and mine looked like crumpled up pieces of dough stitched back together. Finally, after laughing at my lack of ability to form tortillas, Caleb invented a way to make the tortilla process much easier. He used a cutting board to flatten the dough from a ball into a circular, flat shape. The thinner they were, the more layers of dough would fluff up. We eventually griddled all the corn tortillas until light brown blisters appeared on each side. To keep them warm, we lined the tortillas with paper towels and kept it above the counter on a sheet tray.

The main entrée, chiles rellenos, was delicious, spicy and full of Latin flavor. Caleb had already made the beef filling which was savory and rich. We stuffed the peppers with this mixture and sprinkled cheese on the inside. The batter on the outside of the peppers was my favorite part.  I whipped some egg whites and folded in egg yolks. Then, we drenched each pepper in the foam mixture and fried them in oil on medium heat. As soon as each pepper was fried and crispy, more cheese was sprinkled on top and the whole tray of peppers was baked in the oven until cheesy and warm.

To top the meal off, Caleb made a cold oatmeal drink that was made with oats, ice, water and sugar. How refreshing! Paired with rice, salsa roja and spicy peppers, the drink in itself was delectable and cooled down our taste buds.  I am a lover of Mexican cuisine now, thank you


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