A little Mexican in the kitchen.

I've been saying for a while now that I need to learn how to cook more Mexican food. Firstly, I feel I owe it to my heritage - especially as the relatives that could teach me are still alive, well and very, very Mexican. My dad's side of the family, including my grandmother, lives in Monterrey, Mexico - located in the state of Nuevo León, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. The other reason for wanting to learn is because Mexican cuisine is, without a doubt, the most delicious food I have ever tasted. And in this country there seems to be a lack of quality Mexican restaurants, so if I want to eat it, I'll have to learn to make it myself.

One simple way to Mexican-ize a meal is to add guacamole. Guacamole is easy to make, requires very few ingredients and is insanely delicious when served fresh. There are tons of recipes out there for it, but I tend to think the simpler the better. Here's the way I make it - with just five ingredients:

1. Scoop out the contents of your avocados into a sturdy mixing bowl. My proportions aren't set, but I tend to use about three avocados for four people when the guacamole is an accompaniment to a meal. I would use more if you're serving it on its own, as a snack with chips. To make the avocados easier to scoop, I usually make criss-cross hatch marks with a knife first (CAREFULLY!). Mash the avocado pieces with a fork. 

Tip: It's best not to over mix the avocado at this stage, even if all of the pieces haven't broken up. The dip will smooth out each time you mix in new ingredients. Plus, I prefer the guacamole to have a little texture.

2. Add plenty of chopped garlic (about two big cloves for three avocados) and enough salt to taste. A garlic press is a good way to get all the flavor out of the clove. Mix well.

3. Add a good amount of finely chopped cilantro (coriander). Cilantro is strong so start with a few leaves and add more until it suits your taste. Again, mix well.

4. Finally, I add a handful or two of chopped tomatoes to give my guacamole color and texture. If the tomatoes have a lot of juice, scoop out the insides first or the dip will be too watery. Gently fold the tomatoes into the guacamole so they are evenly distributed.

It may not be the most complicated of recipes, but it's a good start and I can easily find any excuse to pull it out. My ultimate goal is to master all of the amazing dishes that remind me of my childhood visits to Monterrey - including my abuelita's home-made tortillas, which were freshly baked on an open flame with each meal.... *sigh* One step at a time.

Next up, the Enchiladas I cooked up the other day. They may have been slightly anglicized, but they were still scrumptious, truly, truly scrumptious.

Finally, in travel news, Owen and I have officially bought plane tickets to Laredo for April!!! Now there's a place for some good Mexican food. Reeeally looking forward to that :)



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