Many years ago, I had a memorably boisterous dinner in the upstate home of a Colombian woman, surrounded by snow and filled with light. It was a blustery winter night and she served a huge clay pot of Ajiaco, a traditional Colombian chicken soup. There was something different about this soup, so I asked if there was a secret ingredient. Indeed, there was one flourish: an herb called guascas that imparts a deep grassy flavor essential to an authentic bowl of Ajiaco.
I am completely and utterly enchanted by this book. There is just something so personal and intimate about these hand-drawn and lettered recipes — it's like receiving a letter from a dear friend who's been living abroad. Every page is so colorful and vibrant, you can almost smell the spices.
At taco trucks, my drink of choice is always jamaica, that bright red brew that is a little tart, a little sweet and totally refreshing on a hot day. Made with dried hibiscus flowers, jamaica is easy enough to make at home, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered how much tastier — and even simpler! — it can be when you cold-brew it overnight in the refrigerator.
An unfamiliar fruit is a marvelous treat. Though I may not know what it's supposed to taste like, or even its name, I can never resist the opportunity to try something fresh and new. Such was the case with these mamoncillos.
I travel to Mexico a lot for my job — I’m a writer and I run street food tours in Mexico City and Puebla. The DF is usually my base, and whenever I’m there and itching for kitchen goodies, I visit Mercado de la Merced, a huge, chaotic market east of the downtown historic center. It has the largest and most inexpensive selection of cookware around. It's so big, actually, that you can get lost inside — thankfully most vendors are nice and will point you back to the Metro.
Here are four Mexican kitchen tools that I like to bring back home with me.
The world’s a big place and there’s good food to be found everywhere. Whether you’re into street food, morning markets, eating with local families or fine dining, there’s something for everyone. While others may travel to see a monument or world wonder in person, we base most of our travels around certain cuisines, or even one particular dish. Aside from the more popular food destinations such as New York City, Paris or Rome, there are hidden gems if you look hard enough.
Mexico City is my second home. I lived there for four years up until January, and I fell in love with its wild, chaotic energy. I fell even harder for the food — so much so that I went to Mexican cooking school and started my own culinary tourism business there.
In a few weeks I’ll make my third trip back so far this year. I pack lightly as a rule, but when traveling to DF, I always take a second fold-up bag to fit all my purchases. (They’re almost always food-related.)
I had only been living in the Bay Area for a few weeks — boxes still unpacked, favorite shoes still missing — when I boarded a puddle-jumper plane bound for San Diego to be with an old and dear friend while she got married. She met me at the airport with two other friends, and before heading to the hotel, before diving into pre-wedding prep, and before even catching our breath, we were off to get tacos.
My husband Mike brought many valuable qualities to our partnership: He's kind, charming, smart, and has good taste in books. He loves good food, and makes me coffee every single morning. And somewhere among the upper pantheon of his stellar attributes is also this: He can wrap a burrito so that you can eat it all the way down to the very nub, without it falling apart in your hands. Want to see how he does it?