Candied Jalapeños

I put these on everything. Tacos. Pizza. More tacos. More pizza. There are more options, but these are my two favorites. White people like to put these on crackers with cream cheese. It's actually delicious. But honestly, why eat crackers when you can have tacos or pizza?

There are a lot of recipes for candied jalapeños out there, most of them are pretty similar, I've tweaked mine just a bit and am pretty happy with the results. Most recipes I've seen for these start with two pounds of jalapeños. That's cute. Start with four. Since they need to sit for four weeks, it's nice to have a backup jar waiting for you in the pantry while you make a new batch. Or, like the Meyer lemon preserves, they make great gifts. But only give these to friends you're really fond of, because once your start they will keep asking for more. You're not just making topping, your starting a tradition, so be aware. Another reason to do this is because jalapeños are stupid cheap. I get mine at El Rancho Supermercado and they are usually $0.88 a pound so we're talking about less than $4 here. But that's enough talking, let's make these bad boys. Recipe and instructions below.

Serve with tacos, pizza, crackers, or just eat them out of the jar.

Pair with Left Hand Free, Alt J (Lido Remix)

Wero Kitchen Winter Playlist

Winter has come and Christmas is upon us! This is my favorite time of year. I'm a sucker for cold weather, coffee, and spending extra time with friends and family. I grew up listening to classic Christmas songs by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and in recent years my Puerto Rican friends have exposed me to greats like Willie Colon and El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico, and the two could not go better together. I've also included a few other artists I've been listening to this December. As always, a list of the songs can be found below, and the playlist can be found on YouTube here. Crank it up, pull out the champaign and enjoy.

Jingle Bells, Frank Sinatra

Winter Wonderland, Ella Fitzgerald

Aires de Navidad, Willie Colón

Alegria y Paz, El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico

Bomba De Navidad, Ismael Rivera

Medley de Navidad, Twice Música

Gracia Sin Fin, Evan Craft

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, Kings Kaleidoscope

Meyer Lemon Preserves

Last week we made Espresso Romano using our fresh Meyer lemons. Since we still have a bounty of citrus chilling on the table, let's make some preserves. Preserving fruit has long been a way of saving your bumper crop for use later in the year, and it's pretty easy to do. Preserves also make great gifts and if you make these now, come Christmas they will be ready for use. So let's get to it!

Before you get started, sterilize the jar you're going to use. They always come with instructions on how to do this but basically just boil it in water for about 10 minutes and then let it air dry. Next, cut your lemons into quarters if they are small or eights if they are large (I cut mine into eights because they were enormous) and remove the seeds. Squeeze the juice into the jar and then place the slices inside and spoon a generous amount of kosher salt on top. Repeat this process until you have filled your jar. Seal your jar and let this sit for at least 4 weeks. The result will be a salty-citrusy delicious bite. So what do you use these for? Great question. A lot of North African (Think Morocco) cuisine will uses lemon preserves, but you can use them in a lot of different dishes. Here is some inspiration from Bon Appétit and the Kitchn. Also, Pinterest. You know what to do. 

Spiced Meyer Lemon Preserves

Now, if you want to spice them up a little, you can add some additional ingredients. Same exact technique, but this time with the layer of salt I'm going to add pink pepper corns, clove, cinnamon stick pieces, bay leaf, and crystallized ginger. Don't feel tied down to any or all of these spices; substitute, add, or leave out any that you want. Experiment, have fun, and enjoy! 

Espresso Romano

When life gives you lemons, I guess make lemonade. When your friend gives you fresh Meyer lemons from their garden you should do something better, probably. 

Meyer lemons are native to China and are thought to be a cross between oranges and lemons. They are sweeter than run of the mill lemons and have a depth of flavor that is citrusy with pronounced herbal and floral notes. The skin is thinner and softer, and the fruit is incredibly juicy. The subdued tartness and complexity of flavor makes the Meyer lemon perfect for espresso Romano.

Espresso Romano (Roman espresso) is espresso with a twist of lemon zest and a little lemon juice. Awkwardly, it is actually not done in Rome (or Italy) at all. I asked several of my Italian friends from various parts of Italy and none of them had ever heard of it. The closest thing I found in Italy was moretta fanese which is a coffee based drink that features the lemon twist but aso anise, rum, and brandy. My friend Marco says this is a drink for sailors and seemed to think I'm too much of a featherweight to drink it. He's probably right. 

Preparing espresso Romano is pretty simple. Pull a shot or two of espresso (use a moka pot if you don't have an espresso machine) and serve with a twist of Meyer lemon and sugar. You can also squeeze a bit of the lemon juice into the demitasse and rub a bit around the rim. That little bit of lemon adds brightness to the espresso and softens the bitterness somewhat. It also looks classy. So sit back, enjoy a break in the afternoon, and enjoy. 

Meyer Lemons (preserves) PS-20.jpg

Serve with Perrier sparking water

Pair with Unstoppable, Lianne La Havas

Thanksgiving

This post will be pretty short, I just wanted to say that this year has been full of changes and challenges for me. It's been a bit of a rocky road. But in spite of that, and maybe also because of that, I have a lot to be thankful for. So I wanted to throw a party to celebrate Jesus and friends and family and food and to thank some of the people who have made my arrival to this new place a good one. And this is the result of that. Three turkeys, people from different backgrounds, countries, and political views all at the same table. It was crazy and fun and a lot of work, and one hundred percent worth it, a lot like this life we live. Happy Thanksgiving you guys, be blessed.

Psalm 136, selected verses

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

Un Mensaje a Mis Queridos Amigos

No puedo hablar por parte de mi país, ya ha dicho lo que quería decir, y lo ha dicho claramente. Me gustaría pensar que alguien habrá puesto una pistola en la frente de las personas que eligieron a Donald Trump como el cuarenta quinto presidente de los Estados Unidos de América, pero sé que no es el caso. Como país hemos elegido de convicción y propia voluntad, y eso es lo más que me duele. Desde el principio ustedes amigos siempre han dejado sus puertas abiertas para mi, y en cuanto a mi casa lo mismo siempre haré. No soy político; soy cocinero. ¿Qué más puedo hacer que seguir cocinando y invitando aquellos que están en desacuerdo a comer en la misma mesa? Es lo único que sé hacer. 

Hoy la mayoría ha elegido el odio, el miedo, la mentira, y la maldad como su representador para el mundo. No digo que todos que votaron por él son mentirosos o odian a la gente o son malos. Cada uno tiene sus razones por votar, y no pretendo saberlas. A juntar todos de un lado en un grupo grande de malvados es exactamente lo que hace el mismísimo presidente electo. Déjanos entonces elegir algo mayor, déjanos mostrar un ejemplo mejor. Que las fuerzas que presiden en la unidad, la bondad, la dignidad sean aún más prominentes y imposible ignorar. Que Dios nos guíe en como andar, como hablar, y como tratar a nuestro prójimo. Eso significa que yo también tengo que poner mi enojo atrás. Eso significa que yo también tengo que sentarme a la mesa con los que llaman lo bueno lo que yo llamo lo malo. Significa que tengo que escucharles de verdad, intentar entender lo que creen y el por qué, sus miedos y sus sueños. Y eso es difícil, amigo. Quiero responder con mi dedo arriba, porque también soy un ser humano con convicciones fuertes, con ideas y palabras que me guíen, con sangre que se hierva al escuchar comentarios ignorantes y falsos. Pero ¿a que final llegaremos con los insultos? Si podría hacer que alguien vea la situación de otra perspectiva diciendo "f____ you" lo haría con gusto ahora mismo. Pero no es tan fácil. Si realmente quiero unidad y dignidad para todos aquí, no sirve actuar como él presidente actual de mi país. Debo de seguir un mejor ejemplo. Debo de hacer algo diferente. El odio no acaba con el odio; lo aumenta. Y esa cosa diferente, yo creo, empieza en la mesa. ¿Quieres realmente vengarte de aquel que te opone? Darle de comer. ¿Quieres enseñarle una lección? Darle de beber. Hacer guerra en la cocina. No una guerra de palabras insignificantes y un sentido de superioridad, pero con amor y el deseo verdadero para su bien.

Nos vemos en la mesa. 

Latté de Calabaza

I was talking with a friend the other day about how excited we both are about fall arriving. It didn't take long before the ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte was mentioned. "I really like pumpkin spice lattes," she confessed. "But I don't feel like I should be judged for that." Call me basic, but I totally agree. The truth is, the pumpkin spice latte has reigned as fall's most popular beverage because it's freakin' delicious, and there should be no shame in enjoying it. Besides, who's going to tell you you can't like it? A bunch of white girls on Instagram drinking matcha lattes? Por favor

That said, don't go crazy. Pumpkin spice is delicious in some things, but that does not mean it should be put into all things. Pumpkin Spice salsa, Pumpkin Spice tortilla chips, Pumpkin Spice juice (whatever that is), Pumpkin Spice crackers, Pumpkin Spice "butter spread", Pumpkin Spice peanut butter, Pumpkin Spice beer, Pumpkin Spice soda. Stop it. 

Without a doubt the greatest of all pumpkin spice treats is the pumpkin spice latte, but not the one from Starbucks which, by the way, is really, really bad for you. A 16oz PSL from Starbucks has 50 grams of sugar (that's 1/4 of a cup!), 240 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of total fat (8 of them being saturated fat, 40% of your recommended daily intake according to the label, and that's if you use 2% milk), and over 20 different ingredients, some of them less than natural. Just to avoid the insane amounts of sugar alone I would make this at home. And lucky for us, it's pretty easy to do. All you need is pureed pumpkin and a pumpkin pie spice blend. Now you can use a store bought spice spend but if you want it to be amazing it only takes about 5 minutes to make your own.

For this blend I used all spice, pumpkin seeds, cloves, black pepper corns, nutmeg, Mexican cinnamon, and fresh ground ginger. (NOTE: Mexican cinnamon is more like tree bark than a ridged stick and will break down much easier in your spice grinder than other kinds of cinnamon.) Place all your spices in a dry pan and toast on medium low for about a minute, or until fragrant and toasted (be careful not to get them too dark or burn any of the spices).

Next put your toasted spices in a spice grinder and and blend until well combined.

Pumpkin Spice WK - PS-7.jpg

Next, the coffee. For this to be delicious you just need good coffee, for this to be a latté you need an espresso machine. We'll get into that in another post.  If you don't have an espresso machine, don't sweat it, try using a moka pot. It's the closest you will get to espresso without laying down some serious cash. If you don't have one of those, just use your regular coffee maker.

Once you have your coffee ready,  mix about a tablespoon or so of your spice blend into one can of pumpkin puree and about a two teaspoons of vanilla extract and sauté for a few minutes until slightly darker and most of the squashy taste of the pumpkin is gone. Remember that pumpkin is a vegetable and definitely tastes like one until you doctor it up. 

Pumpkin Spice WK - PS-11.jpg

Next, blend some of this mixture with your espresso or hot coffee. If you have an espresso machine, steam your milk and your done. If you don't, warm your milk and mix in the blender with the coffee and pumpkin mixture until well combined. Now sit back, relax and enjoy. 

Serve with Topo Chico mineral water

Pair with Love Somebody, Ta-Ku + Wafia, (m)edian EP

Wero Kitchen Fall Playlist

Fall has arrived. It's time to get outside, enjoy better clothing options and spend evenings drinking coffee and listening to music. Here is a sampling of what I'm listening to now.

Shoutout to my boy Juan Duriez for hooking me up with some of the song selections for this season. For some more sick beats (did I just quote Taylor Swift?) You can follow his music page on Twitter @damnthemusic 

Full song listing is below, and you can also hear them on the YouTube playlist

Adios Afrodita - Alvaro Diaz feat. Deborah Blues

Para Que Sepas - Deborah Blues

Meet in the Middle - Ta-Ku + Wafia, (m)edian EP

Love Somebody - Ta-Ku + Wafia,  (m)edian EP

Caigo en Tus Brasos - Evan Craft (ft. Twice Música)

Far Lost Dreams (ft. Ending Heartfelt) - Montell Fish, As We Walk Into Forever

Flood Ash - Alert312, The Upside Eternal

Speaking Gently - BADBADNOTGOOD, IV

Floating Cube - S U R V I V E

Cheapest Flight - PREP

Discovering what was never lost

This post is going to be a little bit different as I'm not writing about food, but about writing about food. Feel free to come back to this post later if you're hungry.

Blogging and "Adverturegramming"

One thing I have noticed in the "adventure-gram" culture I find myself a part of is the obsession with discovery. It's not so much about knowing and experiencing something great anymore, it's about getting credit for finding it. We hold the treasure up high with the pretext of sharing it with others so they can experience it too; but let's be real, the flags we plant to champion our "discoveries" are in long inhabited lands with weathered flags all their own. Now, we never claim the thing itself as our own, but we seize the fame of having discovered it. Instagram is a great testament to this. Food and travel magazines do this. I do this. We want insider knowledge. But it's not enough to have it, we have to be the first to share it, to expose it before someone else does. It's not really about the the discovery anymore, it's about the discoverer. As writer G.K. Chesterton once mockingly said of himself: 

"I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what has been discovered before." 

Truth be told, my delve into the adventuregraming world started off as a joke among friends, it then became an experiment, then an obsession. To be clear I never would have kept it up if I didn't genuinely appreciate the artistic talent involved in these types of accounts. The photos are amazing. The quotes are inspiring. But getting into it, I felt like we're missing something. We don't read books anymore, we just read quotes. We don't form part of communities anymore, we just snap the good parts and ex the areas we don't see value in. We talk a lot about the love of things but it feels a little hallow. We only love places long enough to steal a quick pic and write a few words about how it made us feel (or, looking back on it a few days later, how we imagined one might feel in that place). The fact that we spend more time typing out hashtags then comments shows where our priorities are. To some degree it's impossible to avoid some of these tendencies, and they aren't all bad. I don't mean to over-exaggerate or impose too much philosophy on a trend or aesthetic, it has its place and I enjoy it. But if that's all we're about, it's kind of baseless.

The anti-conquest

This blog is, as I stated in the description, about food, the friends who have shared their lives and culture through that food, and how both have now become a part of my own life. These are things I will experience regardless of the existence of Wero Kitchen. To me, this blog is a fun outlet to organize experiences, recipes, and life lessons people have taught me. I will always travel, I will always cook, I will always take photographs. This is merely a public memoir of these things, because I think you will enjoy them too. I usually don't create anything new, I just show you what I find beautiful. I enjoy sharing these experiences from places you may not be able (or want) to go. The goal is somewhat of an anti-conquest. I go across the world (or down the street) to surrender my sensibilities and my tastebuds, and the treasures I take back with me are the ones I've been given as a gift. 

Food and Friends

When looking for flavorful things, I started in the home and on the street not because I expected to find them there, but because I did find them there. I like home cooking because I spend time in people's homes. I like street food because I love city streets. The first time I had paella in Spain was in a home, not a restaurant. The home set my flavor expectations for the dish. The same with mole, the same with carnitasflautas, tacos al pastor, etc. I experienced all these things on the street with friends or in the home first, and they set the standard. Restaurants are catching up, and doing some cool and innovative things, but the essence of these foods will always be with their origins. 

THE dignity of the street

There is a dignity to the street and the home that is experiencing a resurgence now. It was never lost, but it's in the spotlight now. TV shows, magazines, newspapers, even movies are dedicated to it, restaurants paradoxically offer "street food" on their menus. Some may lament this, saying it's becoming commercialized (yes, I have seen the "street taco" packs in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket, whatever that means). But it's not a bad thing, it's a great thing. Trends, whether we like the word or not, pioneer development and creativity. Granted, a lot of people on the bandwagon will only be there with a lemming status and there is a lot of bad food to be avoided, but that doesn't change the fact that a bandwagon moves forward. And besides, if someone tries something new just because it's trendy, they are still trying something new. As new dishes pop up on the scene, they become part of the culture of that community. Sure that changes the dish somewhat, but the dish also change the culture and the environment, and that's exciting.   

how to find the best food

There is an old Hebrew proverb that says it's better to eat a bowl of vegetables with someone you love than a delicious steak with someone you hate. There is a lot of truth in that. If you want to find good food, that's where you start. When you find a chef who cares about other people, you find a good chef. A chef who is trying to make a name for himself can make amazing and delicious food, absolutely. But there is something about pouring out your best for someone else, for their sole benefit, that adds a depth of flavor. That's why when I go to Mexico City, I don't stay in Polanco, the zona nice with the shining glass buildings and clean buses and secure areas. When I go, I stay in Neza where the cumbia from the neighbor's buzzy speakers shake the walls and the beat is punctuated by gun shots and stray dogs barking, because that's where my friends live. I've had near strangers open up their homes to me, sleep on the couch to give up their beds for me, prepare food for me when they don't have enough to feed themselves. They don't do this because I'm honorable, but because they are. They don't do this because I'm cool, but because they are. And that's the secret to finding the best food. Find the best people, let them be your guide, and enjoy the journey.

WK Summer Playlist

It's Summer, and that means good food, time with friends, sunny days and endless playlists. I've put together a Summer playlist for you guys, a taquito (if you will) of what I'm listening to now. I put them all together on a YouTube playlist, but you can find the list below as well. Happy grilling!

Una Mañana - José José y Natalia LaFourcade

Recógeme en el Sol - Banda Radial

Azúcar Morena - Carla Morrison

Mi Lugar Favorito - Natalia LaFourcade

Most of it - Kings Kaleidoscope

En Esa Vida - UnCorazón

Day 1 (50 Days for Dilla Vol. 1) - Ta-ku

Se Baila Así - Mexican Institute of Sound

Ay Papa - Royal Highness

Vengo - Ana Trijoux

No Soy Una de Esas - Jesse y Joy

Siesta - HLXY KXSS

Dancing on the Moon - Isla Vista Worship

 

 

Gringas

Photos by Adrián Júarez

Photos by Adrián Júarez

"Creo que las gingas de tu país son mas guapas que las nuestras."
"I think the gringas in your country are more beautiful than ours."

It was a dark and stormy night... and we were hungry. But seriously, the first time I tried gringas, it seemed like the world might end. I was in the car with my buddy Noé driving down the street in Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico City on our way to eat dinner when all of a sudden a freak hailstorm, like none anyone there had seen in their lifetime, came out of nowhere. We took refuge underneath a small tree that sat alongside the street and waited for the storm to pass. All of the fallen leaves and twigs from the tree plastered on the car made it look like a taco sprinkled with chopped cilantro. Water and ice flooded the streets; everything was white. Neza York looked more like New York at Christmas than Mexico at the end of Spring.  "Vaya primavera," I said. 

 

When the apocalypse had come and gone, we went out for tacos. But not only tacos, gringas. You have probably heard that gringas means white girls. True. But the word can have another meaning here in CDMX. These are Mexican gringas, and they are gorgeous. Gringas (as a dish) consist of carne al pastor, pineapple chunks and cheese all grilled together in a beautiful, cheesy mass, and sandwiched in-between two toasted flour tortillas. For this post we have the special treat of having a pro taquero show you how it's done.

Shoutout to friend and master photographer Adrián Juárez for illustrating today's post. You can check out more of his work on his website: http://www.adrianjuarezphotography.com/ as well as FB and Instagram @adrianjuarezphotography

And an equally special shoutout to Pizza y Parilla Lily for letting us take photos at their taco post and for making some seriously delicious gringas. 

Night crew at Pizza y Parilla Lily | Ciudad de México  (I was under the impression that we were smiling in this photo, but was obviously mistaken.) 

Night crew at Pizza y Parilla Lily | Ciudad de México (I was under the impression that we were smiling in this photo, but was obviously mistaken.) 

 

HOW IT'S DONE

Start with the carne al pastor and pineapple, see last week's post on tacos al pastor for more info on where to get carne al pastor at home. 

Next add a nice thick layer of cheese on top of the meat on the grill. Mozzarella or Queso Oaxaca can be used (monzzarella was used here). 

Now start to mix and turn the meat on the grill as cheese starts to melt and combine.

When you have an beautiful monument of meat and cheese, toast your tortillas until they start to get a little crispy. Then scoop a generous helping onto the tortillas and then place a second tortillas on top. 

Now you might be saying, hold up, isn't this just a quesadilla? No. No, it is not. The gringa is defined by carne al pastor, pineapple, and cheese, nothing more, nothing less. The quesadilla is a completely different animal in that they could have any number of different kinds of meat inside, they often contain grilled vegetables, the fold of the tortilla is different, the cheese can be different, etc., etc. I don't think a redhead would appreciate you calling her a blonde, or a brunette a redhead. Same thing applies here. Gringas are special. Enjoy them, treasure them, but don't call them quesadillas. 

Serve with Coca-cola Mexicana

Pair with La Vida Contigo, Banda Radial

¡Buen provecho! 

 

 

Tacos al Pastor

Zócalo, Ciudad de Mexico

Zócalo, Ciudad de Mexico

It's been a while guys, I apologize for the extended absence things have been a little crazy. To a certain degree we expect life to give us lemons so we kind of plan on making lemonade at the end of the day, but it doesn't always work out like that. Sometimes life gives you an onion. What am I supposed to do with an onion? A lot more possibilities, but a little bit trickery to figure out. Life recently gave me an onion, so I made tacos with it. Actually, I did even better and went to Mexico City and had master taqueros make tacos with it. 

TACOS

But that's enough kitchen metaphors. Let's talk about tacos. If the only taco options you have ever been given were "soft or crunchy?" please allow me the pleasure of showing you something magical. Real tacos. Real tacos are not just for Tuesdays, they are for any and all days; they are for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anything inbetween.  And with the limitless varieties of tacos, they are the perfect culinary starting point on your latin journey. Since tacos are kind of a big deal, I'm splitting this up into two posts. Post one (this one) will give you some background on a Mexico City classic: Tacos al Pastor. Post two (next week) will show you how to make them. Listo?

WHAT AM I EATING

Tacos al pastor are one of my all time favorite street foods and consist of seasoned pork topped with pineapple, onion, cilantro and lime. The fresh cilantro, sweet pineapple and crisp, acidic lime are incredibly refreshing and pair perfectly with the savory pork. The pork is traditionally cooked on a vertical spit called a trompo (Spanish for "spinning top") with a pineapple skewered on top, letting the juices drip down onto the slow cooking meat as it spins round and round in a tantalizing taco dance. 

Super Tacos Las Chupa Cabras, Coyoacán CDMX   |  Photo © Pako Escobar

Super Tacos Las Chupa Cabras, Coyoacán CDMX  | Photo © Pako Escobar

The very first time I had tacos al pastor was (of all places) at a fútbol tournament in Jackson, Mississippi. The tacos were served out of a food truck (or more accurately a truck that was serving food) parked alongside one of the fields. They had a three foot portable speaker connected to cell phone blaring bachata and reggetón with the bass on blast and a small chalk board with a menu full of tacos I had never heard of before. I barely spoke Spanish at the time and was new to the taco scene so I asked the taquero what he recommended. "Tacos al pastor, wero" he said. "Dame tres," I responded. I had no idea what I was eating, but I was hooked after the first bite.

WHAT'S IN A NAME

The name is kind of curious, it translates literally as "tacos of the pasture" or "pasture style tacos", which is odd because they are pork tacos and pigs aren't pasture animals. Some believe that the name is tied to the the origin of these tacos, way on the other side of the world in the Middle East.

Kebap El Sultán, Alicante España |   Photo: Roberto Auz

Kebap El Sultán, Alicante España | Photo: Roberto Auz

Hold up. Middle East? I thought we were talking about classic Mexican tacos! Let me explain. So in the Middle East and Europe you will find something called Döner Kebap. Kebap is strikingly similar to tacos al pastor in that it consists of thinly sliced meat cooked on a spinning vertical spit served as a street food. Kebap is almost always lamb or chicken but beef kebap is not unheard of. Pork, however, is not too common for obvious reasons. Kebap is topped with a number of things such as sliced cabbage with carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, etc. and then slathered in white and red salsas, some spicy, some not. It was a favorite of mine while in Spain because it's delicious, fast, cheap and available on most street corners. Ojo, whenever I try to explain Kebap to someone the usual response is "Oh, so it's like a gyro." No. They look similar, but the flavor profiles and cooking methods are worlds apart. Kebap is not a gyro, just like you are not your cousin Jennifer.   

HOW IT GOT TO MEXICO

The generally accepted story is that Middle Eastern migrants to Mexico took the Kebap tradition with them, as it was blended into the Mexican culture the lamb meat was substituted for the more affordable and easily accessible pork meat and tacos arabes were born. Tacos arabes are similar to tacos al pastor in the use of pork cooked on a trompo but instead of a traditional corn or flour tortilla a type of thin peta bread is used, the meat is also seasoned differently and has a distinct taste. Tacos arabes then eventually developed into what we now know as tacos al pastor.

Pizzas y Parilla Lily, Nezahualcóyotl, CDMX |   Photo © Adrian Júarez  

Pizzas y Parilla Lily, Nezahualcóyotl, CDMX | Photo © Adrian Júarez 

HOY EN DIA 

Depending on where you go, tacos al pastor will vary quite a bit. Sometimes the pineapple is just on top of the trompo and not diced in with the meat. Sometimes the pineapple is on the table with the salsas and guacamoles as an option. Sometimes it's cooked in with the meat on a grill and not even on a trompo. There is no one way to make them. They are a reflection of Mexico City: ever changing, ever growing, ever developing. Mexican writer Juan Villoro said it best

"El Distrito Federal y la zona conurbada se han transformado a tal ritmo que el espacio no puede ser visto como una categoría fija. Estamos ante una metrópoli nómada que migra hacia sí misma.
The Federal District (Mexico City) and conurbation have transformed at such a rapid speed that the area cannot fit into any fixed category. We are before a nomadic metropolis that is migrating towards itself." 

Tacos al pastor are kind of like that. They are recognizable, undeniably Mexico City, and ever evolving. Next post I'll show you how to make your own.

¡Hasta pronto!

The Wero Kitchen is Relocating

¡Hola a todos! Quick update for you guys. The Wero Kitchen is relocating! I'm going to be MIA for a few weeks while I get everything settled, so hang tight! The place where I am going is a beautiful land flowing with cilantro and cebolla, a land of tacos, taquitos, and all the other glorious foodstuffs from above you can imagine. I'll have more details and a post up when the kitchen is unpacked. Until then, I'll be eating out. 


Renato Bialetti

Renato Bialetti died today at age 93. 

Renato Bialetti (the son of Alfonso Bialetti, inventor of the Moka Express in 1933) died today at age 93. I wouldn't have known about it but for my friend Marco (we'll see if he'll share some amazing Italian recipes with us later on in the blog). I was having a coffee this afternoon, and using my Bialetti Moka Express when Marco gave me a call. I had sent him a picture of the Moka Express a few minutes earlier. "Ah! So perché mi hai mandato questa foto" (I know why you sent me that photo) He said, "Bialetti!

Since I had know idea what he was talking about, he then sent me this article from Corriere della Sera (it's in Italian, but if you can read it I recommend it) which talks about the Bialetti family and their impact on home brewed coffee and style. While Renato didn't create the design (his father did) he was really the one who pioneered the business and make it popular worldwide.


La moka di Renato Bialetti, a suo modo assolutamente innovativa, è diventata un’icona in tutto il mondo, tanto da essere esposta come un’opera di design al Moma di New York e alla Triennale di Milano.
Renato Bialetti's Moka, and its absolutely innovative way [of making coffee], has become a worldwide icon and is to be exhibited as a design work at the MOMA in New York and Milan's Triennale.

Soon I will have a tutorial on how to use the Moka Express, but for tonight we will remember the family who created the brilliant device. 

Tajín Citrus Salad

I was introduced to Tajín in the icy frontier of Alaska. Not exactly the first place I would expect to encounter latin cuisine.

My good friends Juan and Marie (not María) made a variation of this recipe on one of my trips to Anchorage and it has been a personal favorite ever since. The sweet and tangy citrus pairs perfectly with the salty, mildly spicy Tajín, with the lime juice trying it all together.

If you have never heard of Tajín, it is a Mexican seasoning made of dried chili peppers, salt, and dehydrated lime juice. You can find it in any Mexican grocery store and more and more I am seeing it in the "Latin/Ethnic Foods" asile of the supermarkets such as Kroger.

There are a lot of variations to this dish. I've had it it with cucumbers, oranges, mango, or a mix of any of the two. Today we are going to make it with oranges, red grapefruit, and pomelo. Pomelo (or Citrus maxima if you want to be fancy) is basically a big, mild South American white grapefruit.

If you are using mangos, or your oranges are particularly sweet you can omit the brown sugar from the mix. The sugar helps cut through some of the sour bite of the citrus fruits, especially if you are using grapefruit. This dish is a Summer favorite, but the spice of the Tajín makes it great for winter citrus as well.

Pair with WEPA, Royal Highness

Any other fruits or veggies you have tried? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

¡Buen provecho!

 

Pour Over Coffee

If you have been Instagram for longer than 5 minutes, you have seen pour over coffee.

Pour over coffee is all the rage these days, and for good reason. It's simple to do at home, requires minimal equipment, and produces a great cup of coffee, which is probably why people have been using the pour over brewing method for over a century.

The first time I experienced pour over coffee was in London in an Honduran girl's house with two Argentine guys (most of what happens in my life sound like the start of a bar joke, welcome aboard). My buddy Adri asked if I wanted coffee and after a midnight flight from Spain, a two hour bus ride into town and a contemptibly short nap, I was quick to accept. He proceeded to make a pot of pour over coffee using a cloth bag and a stove top pan. "What in the world is that?" I thought. "I guess they make coffee like tea in England." Wrong. But I learned, that's the important thing. 

So let's make some coffee! First off, equipment. You are going to need the coffee dripper, a coffee filter, something to pour the water from, and I highly recommend a coffee grinder.

For the dripper, I love the Hario V60 which you can get on Amazon for about $15. There are metal, ceramic, and glass coffee drippers, choose whichever you like best as they will all produce a great cup of coffee.

Let's talk for a second about grinders and why you should get one. You can use a simple blade grinder not only for pour over but for regular drip and French press as well. I promise you will noticeably taste the difference in your coffee if you grind your own beans at home versus buying pre-ground. Plus, who doesn't love the smell of fresh ground coffee? You can get the Krups blade grinder I'm using today for about $20 on Amazon. 

As far as pouring the water, nothing special is needed. Most professionals will use a gooseneck kettle because it gives you a lot of control while pouring the water and will evenly brew the coffee (it also looks cool on Instagram). These will run for between $35 and $70, so if you don't want to shell out the extra cash just to pour water, a tea kettle or literally anything else that will pour the water and has a relatively thin spout will work just fine.

For the filter, you can use paper or cloth. Paper is easier to find and clean up, plus you don't have to worry about flavor contamination or molding as you do with cloth filters. There are filters specially designed to fit pour over drippers, but your standard coffee filter will work just fine.

Set up your coffee dripper on top of your cup or coffee receptacle and put the filter in place. Before you add the coffee, pour some of the hot water through the filter. This will eliminate any papery taste from the filter and also warm up your coffee cup.

Grind your coffee (about two tablespoons of whole beans for one individual cup should be fine) and place into coffee filter, using a brush if needed to get the coffee out of the grinder. You want a relatively coarse grind that will feel gritty like sand to the touch.

Slowly pour the water over the coffee, moving the spout around in a circle to evenly drench all the coffee. 

At this point the coffee will rise to the top. Stop pouring the coffee and wait about 30 seconds. You will see bubbles in the coffee and it will look kind of foamy, this is called "bloom" and is caused by the releasing of carbon dioxide gas when the ground coffee reacts with the hot water. The fresher your coffee, the more "bloom" you will see.

Continue slowly pouring the water over the coffee, pausing as needed to allow the water to drip down into the cup, until you have finished brewing.

One of the great things about pour over is that you can make a single cup and not waste any coffee. To really get a great coffee experience, try buying whole beans at your local roaster (ask the barista for help if you aren't sure what kind to get). If you want to order online, Madcap is one of my favorites. They have a great selection of seasonal coffees and ship the day after roasting ensuring that everything is really fresh. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the coffee.

Serve with breakfast, pastries, or your favorite book

Pair with American Girl, Ta-Ku fr. Wafia





W E R O

Welcome to my kitchen.

While traveling I've been called a lot of things. Some call me rubio, others gringo, others still gringo loco. I’ve been told I’m a latino born into a white man’s body, or that I'm white chocolate. The Mexicans say I have a Spanish accent, and the Spanish say I have a Mexican accent (I have no idea what I sound like). The Spanish think I'm French, the French think I'm German, and the German... well they think I'm German too. One family called me Daniel for six months before I was able to convince them that my name was actually Nathanael. A flight attendant once called me Neralamissio (I guess she thought I was Italian?), the baristas at Starbucks write my name on the cup as "Matt Daniel"... the list goes on and on. 

Of all the times I've been christened over the years, the first name that was given me was el güero (pronounced [weh-dow] and alternatively written wero) which can be roughly translated as white guy or blondie. It's what they called me on the soccer fields behind the middle school where all the Mexican and Guatemalan guys played on Sunday afternoons. I was (and am) a terrible soccer player, but I went every week to practice my Spanish. I learned a lot of slang, swear words and bad grammar, but also that everything you're taught in the classroom is not enough to truly communicate with someone from another world. Language, culture, food, friendship, they are all tied together, all pieces of a puzzle we call community. 

Wero became a familiar greeting to me, transitioning from the soccer field to the kitchen of the Mexican restaurant were I worked. The cooks were kind to me, a rare blessing in the fast paced kitchen and I functioned as a kind of living bridge between the two cultures, with the hinged kitchen door as the portal. Every morning I would step inside and hear the familiar chorus ¡Qué onda, wero!  (What's up, blondie!) amidst the clanging of dishes, poor renditions of popular banda, and tales of love and loss (real or imagined). 

This blog is about food, the friends who have shared their lives and culture through that food, and how both have now become part of my own life, and hopefully now yours. You will find recipes, reflections, travel stories, and of course a plethora of photographs. I hope you enjoy cooking and exploring with me.  ¡Buen provecho!