About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, January 27, 2006
Tacos Anyone?
Tankeduptaco, that's a funny one; suppose a few readers think it was specially thought up for this blogspot. Not true. When my kids helped me to set up the computer a couple of years ago, they said I had to have a cool name for my emails and that name had to be unique. Thinking not so hard, came up with tank, my nickname from the past, as in built like a tank. From there, it was only a short step to tankedup, meaning full and ready to go. Then I added taco, one of my favourite foods, something simple and uncomplicated, with a never ending parade of fillings. So when I wanted a nome de plume for this blog, it was perfect. This blog is like a taco, full to the top with interesting fillings.

I've always liked Mexican food, it never ceases to amaze me, that from such simple ingredients, something greater than the sum of its parts emerges. One thing that irks me is that whenever food critics talk about great cuisines of the world, they NEVER mention Mexican food. Come on guys, what's wrong with you? In my world, Mexican cuisine is in the top three. Looking on my bookshelf, there are more French cookbooks than any other, next are Mexican cookbooks.

If anyone cares to leave a comment about their favourite cuisine and why, I will do a post about readers favourites.

So why do food critics dismiss Mexican cookery? I suspect it is to do with the use of chilies. For a start they can't drink their wines as the chile heat interferes with their ability to taste the wine, especially so with red wine. Capsaicin, the chemical responsible for chile heat, reacts with the tannins in the wine, rendering meaningful tasting impossible. The only wines that have any chance of showing anything are unwooded whites such as riesling, or unwooded reds in the beaujolais style.

If the critics cannot drink wine with their meal, half their pleasure has evaporated. The other problem the poor darlings have is if they aren't used to chilies, they cannot assess the food properly. Nuances that are apparent to any chile head are lost on them. So rather than admit that they are not equipped to critique the food, they dismiss it.

In supermarkets in my neck of the woods, in the gourmet section, the Italians are well represented with pasta and sauces, then would come Mexican, Indian and Asian food. I can't think of a single French item, for instance, that one could base a meal around. Supermarkets only stock what's selling and of the four cuisines mentioned, three of them are liberal with chilies and spices; this is the food the man or woman in the street wants to eat.

The glory of Mexican cuisine, is that a few ingredients have been coaxed into a form that is true to its peasant origins, but is capable of great sophistication. Think ceviche, mole, rellanos, fish in the Veracruz style. Think of all the different salsas, one small book I have contains more than thirty recipes alone. This cuisine is alive with taste, perhaps all it needs is a champion to show the world its proper place.
  posted at 11:11 am

At 6:15 am, Blogger Angela said...

Yay! for Mexican food! Definately one of my favorites. Living in Arizona has it's advatages when it comes to Mexican cuisine. My family eats some variation of Mexican food at least 2 to 3 times a week. I learned how to make homemade tortillas and red chile sauce at a young age. (And, when I actually take the time to make them, my hand-rolled tamales kick butt). I have to agree with you that it definately doesn't get the props it deserves. Maybe you should be the champion to show the world, Mr. Uptaco!?! :)

At 8:47 pm, Anonymous sateen sheet set said...

If the critics cannot drink wine with their meal, half their pleasure has evaporated. The other problem the poor darlings have is if they aren't used to chilies, they cannot assess the food properly. Nuances that are apparent to any chile head are lost on them. So rather than admit that they are not equipped to critique the food, they dismiss it.
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