Does authenticity matter? This is a question that was presented at the 5th annual Latin Flavors, American Kitchens conference, held at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus in the burgeoning Pearl Brewery complex October 3-5. It is a concept I have thought about extensively in regards to Latin American restaurants found outside of Latin America.
New York City is seeing a surge in new non-taco oriented inexpensive Mexican eateries. There’s La Churreria, serving churros, Pulqueria, serving pulque and other foods, and now Tortaria, a Mexican sandwich shop.
Mexican food is a complex cuisine with so many regional variations that it would be crazy to try to sum it all up in a book. So instead, what Roberto Santibañez did in his latest book “Truly Mexican”, was to focus in what he believes lays the backbone of Mexican food: its sauces and salsas. These are, according to Santibañez, what different dishes share in common. He doesn’t strive to offer a comprehensive guide of all Mexican sauces either, what he intends to do is to teach us the fundamentals, the basic techniques that will allow us to understand and enjoy Mexican cuisine, and in doing so getting the necessary skills to master other recipes as well.
I’m quite fond of eating fruit in salad form, though it usually ends up a soupy mess. Jicama, like apple, stays firm no matter how much juice is splashed on it and makes a nice bar snack as cubes when just drizzled with lime and sprinkled with chile powder. Also called yam bean or Mexican turnip, the sweet and starchy vine ripened jicima is often used in Mexican cooking.
I love tacos. Some might even say I’m obsessed with tacos. You could even go as far as calling me taco loco. I didn’t really even have a real taco until I was in my early 20’s. I grew up with Americanized Mexican food like Taco Bell and Chichi’s in Ohio and a good taco just didn’t exist. When I began a life of travel I began frequenting food stalls whenever I could and it opened my eyes to the vastness of the taco landscape. Now that I’m settled in Brooklyn, I make frequent trips to the taqueria. I’ve eaten a lot of bad tacos in Brooklyn, though the majority are as good as anything I have found in Mexico. Here are my ten favorite tacos in Brooklyn: