Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Culinary Epiphany

I had an epiphany in the kitchen last night. A blinding moment of culinary clarity that brought with it a resolution...I will never again buy pre-packaged tortillas from the grocery store. Home-made tortillas are among the best things I've ever eaten in my life and may well be the answer to the age-old question as to the meaning of life. I'm serious. It could be that my taste-buds have been deprived by a month of eating chapatis (the sadly-inferior Indian version of the tortilla which lacks the key ingredient--oil--and is essentially just flour and water. Bleah) but those tortillas were truly divine.

The tortilla bliss came about because Joanna and I decided we needed a Mexican food fix last night and so tackled the problem of how to create a Mexican feast in a land without Mexican spices, tortillas, sour cream, or avocados. Nita Mehta to the rescue! She is a chef in Delhi who produced a whole line of cookbooks that help you cook foreign cuisine with Indian ingredients. She's got one on Mexican, Italian, Japanese, you name it. And so with her help, we produced bean and cheese burritos, salsa, and a pretty-convincing sour-cream substitute. It was fantastic!

Cooking over here is really a different experience than back home. For one thing, ingredients, as mentioned above, are limited and creative substitutions are required. We also only have a couple pans, most of them tin and cruddy. The "stove" is a gas-burner with two settings--inferno and off. This makes delicate frying (like French Toast, say) a challenge. But some things are great. Like the tawa--a round, flat, griddle-type object used to make chapatis and/or tortillas. I love it. I'm going to buy one and bring it home with me. And pressure cookers. Why did those go out of style back home? They're great. We flung the beans into the pressure cooker with some onion, garlic, and tomato and a short while later...VOILA! Refried beans! Amazing.

This morning I'm still feeling a bit of the happy Mexican-induced stupor of last night. It's great.


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At 4:58 AM, Blogger Emily said...

oh, mexican food! Why hasn't it come anywhere else in the world?? Old El Paso has started over here (along with another, slightly worse brand) but all they make are extremely expensive 'fajitas kits'. Luckily salsa can be located, but they want to sell sour cream in jars (although if you look it can be found elsewhere), and 'mexican' restaurants have never even HEARD of refried beans (I asked at one and was--after several minutes of explanation--brought a small bowl of kidney beans to smush myself). One day the world will see that tasty, low fat, high cheese content food should spread to the masses! But until then yogurt tastes just like sour cream in a taco, I promise.


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