eat drink talk: flavours of mexico
this is part one of two about courses at eat drink talk.
i recently spent a very enjoyable evening in a clerkenwell loft learning how to make authentic mexican food. i was at an eat drink talk class with jennifer klinec and it was great fun.
as we arrived – ten people, which was a nice size as it made the evening feel quite intimate and asking questions easy – we were greeted with horchata, a mexican drink made from almonds and rice which was particularly good once it had been spiked with some dark rum.
the menu for the evening comprised:
pollo en pipian
baja fish tacos with salsa negro
jicama and citrus slaw
flour and corn tortillas
plantanos con cajeta
sat around a large table, working in pairs, jumping between recipes to allow time for dough to rest, fish to marinade and goats milk to caramelise (well, turn to toffee but i’m not sure toffeeise is a word!) and sipping the wine we had bought with us, we easily worked our way through the recipes in the 3 hours allotted.
the recipes were all delicious and used ingredients which i was unfamiliar with, to create a more authentic, non tex-mex range of flavours. the pollo en pipian was a chicken dish served with a green pumpkin seed, tomatillo and radish leaf sauce; the salsa negro packed a real punch with its flavouring of chipotle chillies; i now know i like jicama (also called yam bean) which jennifer endearingly described as tasting as if an apple had married a potato; and the plantains with cajeta (goats milk toffee sauce) were a decadent end to the evening.
jennifer’s style of teaching is quite informal which i really enjoyed. we covered a lot of ground - techniques were clearly demonstrated and we discussed the more unusual ingredients/equipment in enough detail (including stockists, the cool chile company is a good place to start) to ensure people wouldn’t feel intimidated going shopping for them.
we also had conversations about broader issues such as how to shop for fish (know what type of fish you want (flat, firm, flaky, etc) but then be guided by a fishmonger and what is most fresh), what cuts of meat to buy (if you want flavour be willing to cook a muscle that works hard for longer), and where to get decent mexican food in london (the taqueria and green & red are the two at the top of my list to try), etc.
people also asked general questions – how to choose knives, woks and food processors all came up – and i was also able to make use of jennifer’s expertise to identify some mystery chillies which i’d been given by friends who were recently in mexico.
i came away from the class having enjoyed my evening, knowing where to source mexican ingredients and specialist equipment (a corn tortilla press has been purchased), with a selection of recipes which i know i could recreate and a confidence to try other authentic mexican recipes which i track down myself. what more could i ask for? other than time and money to spend on another class or two - the list always has several classes coming up which are singing a siren song…