serious love for all things "Mad Men," and we're sad to see the show's second season come to an end this Sunday. (Too soon!) Our favorite ad execs and their significant others would no doubt recommend a stiff drink to mark the occasion, but instead, we're following Don Draper to easy-breezy California for our Mexican-themed finale menu. (Warning: The following contains spoilers from previous episodes. You've been warned.)
In a recent episode, Don travels to California with Pete Campbell – the account executive everyone loves to hate – for an aeronautics conference. Looking cool yet out of place at the pool in his New York wool suit and fedora, Don tells Pete to stay focused on business, but after one presentation on missiles, he's ready to forget his own advice. A mysterious young woman named Joy – who makes his acquaintance only after being assured he's neither an astronaut nor an actor – asks Don to accompany her to Palm Springs, and he ditches the conference without a word. But as soon as they arrive at a lavish home, he passes out from heat exhaustion, or so he is diagnosed by a doctor wearing a tuxedo jacket and no pants. Don wisely refuses an unnamed injection. After a nap, he joins Joy and her strange friends for dinner, where he gets his first taste of Mexican food. (This seemed shocking to us at first, but the cuisine only gained popularity throughout the United States in the '60s and '70s.) The spread includes tamales, guacamole and rice, and Joy tells him he must try "a pepper, filled with cheese. And there's a sauce!" They toast (sangria?) and then it's back in the pool. The next morning, however, the intrigue of his new, mysterious friends has worn off and Don (or is it Dick?) decides it's time to go. They must be off as well. They're "nomads," Joy explains, and they're headed to Nassau. "Something about taxes." Today, these Mexican dishes are old favorites for most Americans, but still delicious as ever:
- Got a favorite guacamole recipe? If not, try one of ours, or one of these other avocado dips.
- Make a twist on the standard beans and rice with Gourmet's Mexican Rice with Mint, Bon Appétit's Rice, Pinto Bean and Corn Salad, Rick Bayless's Green Poblano Rice, or Heidi Swanson's Berry Beer Baked Beans.
- Homemade tamales are time- and labor-intensive, but oh so worth it. We've had success with Gourmet's Grilled Tamales with Poblanos and Fresh Corn. Or try Cookie's version stuffed with chorizo, or Conch Tamales with Jalapeno-Cheese Pesto from Nuevo Latino by Douglas Rodriguez.
- And don't forget those stuffed peppers! We're drooling over RachelleB's Chiles Rellenos Gratin.
- To drink, a classic sangria, or version 2.0.