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20151019_193012As we head down to Mexico, all that was going through my mind was, please let me find something that wasn’t chilli (although this dish has been adopted by the Mexicans, according to my research – and we always assume it is from Mexico) – Tacos or fajitas…it’s not that we don’t like these things, but wanted to cook something very traditional to Mexico and not something we cook routinely but just as tasty but that we hadn’t had before..

United Mexican States is known to us as “Mexico” and belongs to North America as a federal republic. Mexico is the 5th largest country in the Americas and being almost two million square kilometres  which is over 760,000 sq mi. It is also the 13th largest independent nation in the world, the 11th most populated country with an estimated 120 million inhabitants. The majority of the people speaking Spanish. Its capital is Mexico city and the largest city. It has  one of the world’s largest and most diversified economies, with an abundance of natural resources such as silver and oil.

Mexico was once home to many civilisations such as the Aztec, Maya and Toltec. The Spanish Empire colonised and occupied the area around 1521 until 1821, which then saw the area became Mexico following identification of the colonies independence. Unfortunately economic instability fell upon Mexico. However,eventually, in 1917 the countries current political system arose.

Mexican cuisine should not, ever, be confused with Tex-Mex cuisine which in certain parts of the US and Canada is called Mexican Food.                                          Mexican food was initially a beautiful fusion of native Mesoamerican cooking, with influences from Europe, especially the Spanish elements that came to be after Aztec Empire was conquered in the 16th century. The fundamental staples are indigenous foods such as beans, chilli peppers and corn. The Europeans introduced foods too, but importantly were the meats which are eaten from animals – poultry,beef,goat, pork and sheep – cheeses and lots of herbs and spices. The Spanish did try to levy their own diet and food on the country, but failed, and ultimately the cooking methods and foods became mixed and eventually Asian and African foods were introduced.

Real Mexican food is quite unlike the dishes found in most Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in many other countries. I am told if you stick to a few simple and customary dishes that are almost always fantastic and not too spicy. You’ll find values much higher than if you search the menus for something familiar, and today/this evening is what is what I intended to do this evening and find a family dinner that wasn’t what were used to, something different and something tasty…….Mexican Meatball Soup. The recipe looked simple and perfect for a weekday evening meal with the family.

As I drove home Ian had already begun to prepare the dish and, again, as I walked through the door could smell the flavours…albeit of the chopped ingredients, but there is nothing more home coming than smelling food being prepared.                           The dish comprised of making little meatballs with minced beef and mixed together with seasoning and onions and left in the fridge for about 20 minutes. They were then, just simply, placed in a pan of boiling water with more seasoning and a little onion and cooked until they popped to the top of the pan…

20151020_182630Rice and onion were gently fried and after about 4 minutes added to the meatballs along with the the rest of the ingredients..

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20151020_182623The aroma coming from the cooking pan was amazing. I have to admit the pan looked very bland and lacked colour and was at this point was very unsure what we had put together. Ian had already commented it looked like it lacked something and was soooo tempted to add colour/chilli or something  to give it a boost…

But we didn’t…….                                                                                                     So then finally, before serving, the last couple of ingredients were added – see recipe and by adding these the colour transforms the dish to something that looks less bland, and to something ready to eat. The bouquets from the dish filled the kitchen, as well as other places in the house… Unfortunately, the pictures taken of the soup before it was served weren’t very good and not fit for purpose…..Trust me when I say the finished dish did look better than anticipated. As suggested, we served this hearty soup/broth with traditional tortilla – warmed through

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Mexican food is far more varied than people think. It changes like dialects. I was brought up in Jalisco by the sea on a basic diet – tomatoes, chillis, peppers of every size and rice, which is a Mexican staple. The Pacific coast has a huge array of seafood.

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Family Verdict:  OK.lets see!     So as hubby had cooked this, and saw every step, he did admit he was unsure about the dish……However, I quote “Better than initially thought”.                                   Son – No 1 – on arriving home, “Smells amazing” and again, when the dish was served, he was very unsure….. although like his dad, better than anticipated.             I thought it was tasty, the flavours were lovely and everything we eat doesn’t have to have chilli in it…The dish was filling, delicious and very much a dish you could knock up again for a family midweek meal

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