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Cookbook Review - Truly Mexican
Once in a blue moon, as I browse through the cookbook section of a bookshop, I strike gold. I pull a book from a shelf and when I start to leaf through it, I feel a thrill, a sense of excitement. Roberto Santibañez’ latest book, Truly Mexican, fits into this category with the greatest of ease.
The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Verde Cocida
Salsa Verde Cocida, cooked green sauce, is made with tomatillos or Mexican green husked tomatoes and comes in many guises, from nothing more than boiled, puréed tomatillos, to considerably more sophisticated versions.
The Drinks of Mexico - Fresh Cucumber Water
The sight of the seller of “aguas frescas” or “fresh waters” is common on the streets of Mexico. His colourful wares are displayed in large glass jars, sitting on a bed of ice or in a refrigerated cabinet, and oh how fresh, healthy and pure they are in a world full of “soft drinks” and “sodas”.
The Chillies of Mexico - El Serrano
The bullet-shaped serrano chilli, small, slender and dark green, reminds me of a delightful Mexican song, which goes: “soy como el chile verde, picante pero sabroso”, “I am like the green chilli, hot but tasty”.
The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Verde Cruda
A raw “salsa”, made from tomatillos, the Mexican green husked tomato, is one of the pillars, and joys, of the Mexican table.
Tomatillo, the Mexican Husked Tomato
When is a tomato not a tomato? When it is a “tomatillo”, which translates as” little tomato” but does not refer to a tomato as we know it.
The Chillies of Mexico - Pickled Jalapeños
Jalapeño chillies make a regular appearance at the Mexican table as a condiment or relish, in the form of pickled chillies or “jalapeños en escabeche”. These sparky, tart pickles make their way into a great variety of dishes and their uses and popularity are endless.
The Chillies of Mexico - El Jalapeño
The jalapeño chilli, plump, smooth and glossy, has a lively rather than fiery ardour, and while it notches up a creditable 7/10 on the heat scale, it is often relatively mild, warm without too much punch - but be warned, it can sometimes be very hot indeed and catch you unawares.
The Chilli Pepper Man
From their sunny homeland of Mexico to the sweltering heat of Kerala or the sandy beaches of Thailand, chillies are associated with warm climates and exotic dishes flavoured with coconut and cumin, coriander and cinnamon: aromatic curries and stir-fries, mellow “tagines” and gutsy “moles”.
The Chillies of Mexico
Capsicum Annuum was first cultivated in Mexico around 7000BC and is the ancestor both of all modern Mexican chillies, and of the vast majority of chillies found today outside the Americas: all the hot cuisines of the world owe their fire and fragrance to the original Mexican chilli.
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