Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And Again I was The Cook

Mexican food should be cheap, wouldn't you think? If that's what is cooked in Mexico and the Mexican folks can afford it, then it stands to reason a third world country living on beans and rice would be a food most of us could afford. Why, then, does a plate of it cost upward of 15.00 here?

I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for a year. South Central Phoenix was a haven for good Mexican food. Since I didn't speak the language and they didn't speak mine, I would point at the item on the menu and soon a wonderful plate of whatever entree I chose along with the prerequisite beans and rice and tortillas would be delivered. All of this for a little over 5.00 per plate and not only was I hooked but I was spoiled.

For a while I lived in Farmington, New Mexico and again the restaurants there offered more Mexican food at low prices.

Eventually my travels took me east and then south until I arrived for my third time in Louisiana. Cajun cooking and French bakeries offer some of the best food in the whole of the USA.
Until recently, absent from the scene here was a good authentic Mexican food restaurant. On the days we get a craving for real Mexican food, I find myself in the kitchen using the training I acquired from the husband's family in Arizona. I chop, grate, peel, mash and cuss.
You do remember from our previous discussions here, I don't consider myself a cook? I can think of a lot of places I would rather be then in a kitchen and you should see my kitchen. Miles and miles of beautiful granite grace the cabinets, a baker's dream. Granite is wonderful for rolling out dough. That's what my sister in law tells me when she visits. She likes to cook and I make sure she has everything she needs to enjoy herself in my kitchen. 
Yesterday I spied some beautiful Poblano peppers at the market and immediately I started craving Chili Rellenos. This afternoon I committed to creating. 

Every time I enter a Mexican food restaurant and note the prices on the Rellenos, I'm appalled. How could  a couple of chilli's stuffed with cheese and deep fried warrant that price?

Ah, tonight I again had a reality check. As I slid those peppers on a tray beneath the broiler and waited close by for them to toast, the minutes crept by. I opened the oven door and with tongs rolled them over and closed the oven door again and waited.  I noted the time this took.

Soon the peppers were toasted then removed from the oven, placed in a paper bag to steam till cooled. The next step is removing the skin and then slitting them open to remove the seeds. It's at this time, which is still early in the preparation of this dish, that I realize why the price on the menu is what it is.
I still have to shred cheese, whip egg whites, get a skillet of oil hot and then stuff, dip and roll those chilies before they are fried.

From the kitchen, halfway through this adventure, I sing out to the husband who is in the living room. "Hey, remind me to not do this ever again! The next time I get in the mood for Rellenos, we will visit that new Mexican food restaurant!"
I know there is a whine attached to that comment. Ask me if I care? By this time, the kitchen is a mess of bowls, plates and grease and I've been at this for way too long.
Not only am I the cook but the person that has to clean up this mess.
What took hours to prepare, is consumed in minutes and for the next 30 minutes I will be remaining in the "room of torture" removing all the evidence.

The Rellenos were great. I'm good for another 6 months and by that time I will have forgotten the trauma tonight. (Making note to self to reread this post in 6 months!)

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