Taking on Tamales

Banana Leaf Wrapped TamalesPhoto by Ignacio Urquiza

Banana Leaf Wrapped Tamales
Photo by Ignacio Urquiza

Tamales are one of the staples of holiday menus throughout Mexico and to anyone of Mexican heritage, it is the single food that is inseparable from Christmas. I think it is important for Mexican restaurants to serve at least two or three different types of tamales throughout the holiday season, and those home cooks may find it a fun family activity to make them together, even in advance and then freeze them to use later. As described in the “Taking on Tamales” article written by editor Kathleen Furore of el Restaurante MEXICANO, Fall 2012, I suggest corn husk-wrapped Tamales Navideños with shredded, cooked turkey or chicken in a mole of ground toasted peanuts, sesame seeds, chiles anchos, mulatos and pasillas, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon and Mexican chocolate. Another recipe is a banana leaf-wrapped tamal, such as one from Veracruz pictured above, where the masa is filled with small chunks of pork, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chiles, and always, a tamal dulce recipe (sweet tamal). This could be tamales de piña con coco served with ice cream, toasted almonds or pecans, and fresh pineapple, or a sweet and spicy tamal recipe with canned pumpkin purée and spices mixed into the masa.

To read the full post and get recipes, go here.

La Cocina Mexicana selected for the Paris Cookbook Fair

We are honored that La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine has been selected as one of the cookbooks to be judged for the Gourmand’s World Cookbook Award. This international cookbook fair will be held in Paris next to the inverted pyramid of the Louvre Museum Feb. 22-24, 2013. The books on the list were selected for their potential and appeal to the international market.

Legendary 3-star chef, Michel Roux from the Waterside Inn, in his speech as President of Honor of the 2012 Fair,  explained that he thinks this fair is unique and well respected, and everyone, big or small is given an equal chance at winning. “Everyone gets attention here, and has an opportunity to get a close look at the culinary business. You can profit from the knowledge of professionals from all around the world in an absolutely unique way. Every young person who wants to be a professional in the gastronomy or culinary business has to be there.”

Mexican Cuisine’s African Roots

As a great deal of the historical information was cut from my new book due to lack of space, I was recently asked to include some of the background on Africa’s influence on the Mexican cuisine for the University of California Press blog and though I would share it and some of the photos taken by Nacho Urquiza of an African family on Oaxaca’s Costa Chica.

Antonieta Avila Salinas's Costa Chica Family

Antonieta Avila Salinas’s Costa Chica Family
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

African Influence on Mexican Cuisine
by Marilyn Tausend

I have been traveling throughout Mexico exploring the incredibly multi-cultured cuisine of its people for the last three decades. It was, though, only since researching the history of the African presence in Mexico for my newest cookbook, La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine, did I realize that during the many years I’ve been coming to the tree-shrouded small village of La Antigua in Veracruz, that I had often stood right in front of Mexico’s first slave market, now the site of the local school. During the seventy-five years or so after Cortés moved his small contingent of Spanish troops and other followers south in 1525 from Quiahuiztlan to this safer harbor, thousands of Africans were put on the block to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I since have visited many places in Veracruz where these slaves were relocated, some still retaining African names such as the nearby popular resort of Mocambo which means “sorrow” in the Congo dialect.[

Some African slaves also accompanied their Spanish owners during the exploration of New Spain with apparently the first African to set foot in these new lands being on Columbus’s second expedition. Twenty years later, the first black slaves in Mexico arrived with Hernan Cortés from the West Indies.

Read the rest of the article here.

Costa Chica Fishing by Nacho Urquiza

Costa Chica Fishing
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

Barbacoa de Pescado by Nacho Urquiza

Barbacoa de Pescado (recipe page 167-168)
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

Caldo de Tichnidas, Costa Chica

Antonieta making Caldo de Tichnidas
Photo by Nacho Urquiza

La Vida Gallery

La Vida Gallery

La Vida Gallery Front Window
San Antonio, Texas

Matt Weissler’s La Vida Gallery’s hugely popular First Friday book signing will be held tomorrow with Marilyn, Jon Bonnell, author of Texas Favorites,and Ward Albro, author of The Day of the Dead/ Dia De Los Muertos. Event runs from 7-9 p.m. Unfortunately, Susana Trilling had a little mishap and will not be able to make it, but she will be traveling to San Antonio the first weekend in December. Have a speedy recovery, Susana, and thank you Matt for all your help.

TriniGourmet’s Review

Here is an excerpt from TriniGourmet’s review of La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine.

“Not only is it a loving record of the places and people she’s encountered in over 30 years of organizing culinary tours, she writes so evocatively that you quickly feel as though those experiences are your own!

Not simply a cookbook, La Cocina Mexicana, also strives to form a historical record of the cultures and landscapes of the many regions and peoples of Mexico. Infinitely more diverse than I was aware, this is not a cookbook for those who are looking for tacos, quesadillas, or a simple bean dip. It’s not that those are not available, however, Mexican cuisine is so much more. This is after all a country of 111 million people! Tausend opens our eyes, and palates, to the dishes of such indigenous peoples as the Zapotecs, Mayans and Otomí.

She also vividly describes and elaborates on the influence of not only the Spanish and French on Mexican cuisine, but also the Africans who were brought as slaves and whose place names and descendants still populate the Veracruz region, as well as the northern Pacific coast. In providing the idiom ‘you can find ah Trini anywhere’, the Roman Catholic priest for one of these remote Afro-Mexican communities was a Trinidadian priest by the name of Father Glyn Jemmott Nelson. You can view an interesting interview with him below.”

To read the entire review, go here.

Book Signings in October

San Antonio, Texas
October 5 – Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio Campus
Noon in the breezeway of the CIA’s campus specializing in Latin Cuisine
Historic Pearl Brewery complex, 312 Pearl Parkway. Telephone: 210-554-6400

October 5 — 7-9 p.m. La Vida Gallery
716 S. Alamo St. Telephone 210 224-3232

Austin, Texas
October 6 – 3:30-5:30 p.m. Restaurante El Naranjo with Chef Iliana de la Vega at 85 Rainey Street, Austin.
Telephone: 512 474 2776

October 7 – Noon-2 p.m. Fonda San Miguel, 2330 W. North Loop. Telephone: 512 459 4121

Gig Harbor, WA
October 21 – 2-4 p.m. Tides Tavern with Chef Ernie Davis, 2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 
Telephone: 253 858 3982

Seattle, WA
October 24 – 5-7 p.m., Flying Fish with Chef Christina Keff, 300 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle.
Telephone: 206 728 8595

Viva de Dolores, Mexico’s Day of Independence

Welcome to the first posting of Marilyn’s Blog. I know that many of you will be surprised that I am doing this, but with the help of my colleague, Kathie Vezzani, forward I will go into social media. I will periodically post events about my friends and colleagues in the food world, particularly as they relate to what is happening in the culinary world in Mexico. Please feel free to sign up and follow this blog and whenever a new posting is up, it will go to your email inbox.

La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine

Published by the University of California Press

My new book, written with Chef Ricardo Muñoz of Mexico City, is out in bookstores now and I am scheduling booksignings in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston in October and a couple of local ones in the Pacific Northwest as well. I will post later with the specifics. If you have already purchased the book and would like a signed book plate, just contact me and I will be happy to mail one off to you–and thank you for your support!

Do celebrate Mexico’s Day of Independence this September 16 with the traditional chiles en nogada, with the vibrant green, white and red of the Mexican flag, and Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), Viva La Mexico which was exclaimed on this day in 1810 in the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato by the Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo, starting the War of Independence from Spain. Every year, before midnight in Mexico City the bells are rung at the National Palace and the President repeats the cry to the huge crowd gathered in the zócalo. This same celebration occurs throughout the country.

You can find the recipe here.

Buen Provecho, and have a toast of tequila for Mexico.