During the summer months, which is the rainy season, gigantic blackberries take over the culinary stage in the town of Valle de Bravo, Mexico. They can be the size of a plum, bursting with wine colored juice that is at once sweet and tart and addicting. Literally every morning, women come down from the mountains and valleys to the town’s market with buckets of these fresh picked gems. What to do with them? One of my favorite things is to use them as a topping for cheesecake.
My favorite mango, by far, is the one called Ataulfo in Mexico. It also goes by the name of champagne or honey mango in other countries. When ripe, its meat is intensely golden yellow with a nice thick bite. It is juicy and has a lightly tart, yet intense, sweetness that is hard not to love. Different from other mangoes, it is not fibrous at all.
More like a pound cake, pan de arena’s texture is really perfect. When you slice it, it feels like it came from a professional bakery. With just the right amount of moist and just the right amount of crumbly. It may be that because the texture is so evenly moist and crumbly throughout, it got named after sand. Its taste is also so well balanced. Just enough sweetness and a buttery taste that gets nuanced, but not over powered, by lime zest and lime juice. Yet it doesn’t taste citrusy at all.
These OREO conchas combine a craving from each country I’m happily torn between. Both cravings are responsible for many childhood memories. Both shine even brighter with a side of cold milk for sipping, splashing or dunking. Both are loved by kids, and both make us grown ups feel like kids when we bite into them. Both make the people we love feel cared for and deliciously spoiled.
I know my dad would love to have these Tequileras on the Backgammon table. They are a grown up sandwich cookie with deep chocolate flavored biscuits that aren’t too sweet, and the gentle bitterness of the cocoa comes through the slightest bit. Between the two crunchy, chocolatey biscuits is a rich, sweet buttercream made sophisticated by a dash of orange tequila liquor.
Why a malted tequila milkshake, you may ask? Because we can! And because it is outrageously delicious and silky and smooth and a true treat. And because we have so much to celebrate: Mexican cuisine is stepping out of the “ethnic” denomination and proudly stepping into the mainstream as people’s appetite has increased to the point of wanting to get to know it better…
Tres Leches is a classic. But a classic from where, you may ask? Ask an Argentinean: From Argentina, of course. Ask a Cuban: Sin duda from Cuba. Ask an Ecuadorian: Claro que from Ecuador. A Venezuelan? Por supuesto que es de Venezuela. Ask a Mexican…Of course, sin duda, claro que por supuesto que es Mexicano. No doubt, it is Mexican. ¡Si señor! You can go on and on…
Pancho Villa, one of the most renowned generals from the Mexican Revolution was wild about ice cream. It is even said he was most fond of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate. This historic photo, published in the El Paso Times, shows him sitting at the famous El Paso confectionery The Elite, right after having an ice cream.
Some Latin foods don’t need translating anymore. That is the case of churros. Crisp and golden on the outside, soft and almost moist in the center, and covered in a gritty mix of sugar and cinnamon. They have to be some of the most, if not the most, irresistible fritters.
Just four ingredients that you may already have at home make for one of the tastiest treats in the Mexican pan dulce repertoire: campechanas. Not all panaderías in Mexico have campechanas though. And not all the panaderías that do carry them have fabulous campechanas. In fact, I have found that campechanas sold on the streets tend to be the very best ones.