Wordless Wednesday: Capirotada

Who doesn’t love capirotada? This traditional treat, a bread pudding-like dish often served during Lent, is typically made with toasted bolillo rolls (French bread is an acceptable substitute if you can’t get bolillos), a syrupy piloncillo sauce, raisins and cheese. Everybody has their own version and there’s no one way to make it. This version from El Bajío in Mexico City includes peanuts and queso fresco sprinkled on top, and was enjoyed on our last visit to Mexico City during the winter. I’ll be sharing a recipe here for capirotada just in time for Semana Santa and Easter.

  • How do you like to make your capirotada? What kind of cheese do you use and what kind of garnishes do you like?

Wordless Wednesday: Cucharas

I’ve always loved these little wooden spoons, each hand-carved and unique, that my suegra uses for serving salsa and other condiments. On my last trip to Mexico City, I ran out of time to scour the tianguis looking for a set of my own spoons for my newly-purchased salseras (little hand-painted clay dishes for salsa or other condiments) like the ones my suegra has in her kitchen. She had a few sets of these little spoons and gave me three from her own collection, telling me she could always go buy more. I miss her today. Sometimes it’s so hard to live nearly 1,700 miles away.

  • Has a family member ever sent you home with something that belonged to them because you loved it and they wanted you to have it to make you happy?

Travel Tuesday: Escape to Guanajuato

It’s no secret that I love Mexican playwright Tanya Saracho’s work. This past weekend I was in the third row of the opening night of her newest show, El Nogalar, playing at the Goodman Theatre through April 24. It was so amazing, I’m going to have to go back to see it again. I cried, I laughed, and at the end I was sad it was over. My only regret about the show is that there is no Act II; despite the 1 hour 40 minute run time with no intermission, I could have watched that story continue to unfold for a few hours longer. You can listen to Tanya talk about the play in a clip from Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight show from last week.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tanya last year for a feature in Café magazine, in which she was named one of the publication’s 2010 Latino Luminaries – an award for Latino leaders who served as inspiration and for the contributions made in their respective fields and communities. And she’s so brilliant, even the New York Times has taken note.

So suffice it to say that I was absolutely thrilled to see a travel piece in the April issue of Chicago magazine about Guanajuato, featuring Tanya as the trusty tour guide. Originally from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Tanya is a longtime Chicago resident. The article touts Guanajuato as “the anti-spring break,” a different alternative to visiting Mexico than just heading to typical places such as Cancún…. 

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Happy National Paella Day! {RECIPE}

Yesterday was National Paella Day, so in honor of this fantastic holiday, I’m going to share a recipe! (OK, so it’s probably a made-up holiday, but what better excuse to share a paella recipe and give away a paella cookbook?) Our family has roots in Spain, and we love paella! My suegra actually has a family tree written out on a huge parchment scroll tracing back every generation to before they arrived in Mexico via boat from Spain. It blows my mind that my name is now on that scroll and someday, my children will be on it, too! I’m a big genealogy nerd, so I love digging into our family roots and learning as much as I can, especially when it comes to cuisine!

I recently had the pleasure of taking a paella class with Chef Tim Cottini at Chicago’s Café Ba Ba Reeba, one of our favorite places for Spanish tapas and paella. In fact, José says he thinks they have the best paella in the city, so when I told him I was thinking about taking the class to learn their recipes, he practically forked over our credit card on the spot to reserve my space!

I learned a lot of new tips to make my paella GREAT. I’ve made paella in the past at home (and you may recall we ate it in Cuernavaca last year at a dinner party), but it was never what I’d call awesome. I experimented with different ingredients and portions but it lacked something. I suspect in part because I never had a proper paella pan. I think Chef Tim helped me acquire my paella mojo, though! When I recently made a recipe that I learned in the class at Café Ba Ba Reeba, it had José begging for seconds. He ate the leftovers the following day and said he couldn’t wait until I made it again. … 

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Wordless Wednesday: Todos los sabores

TAMARINDO | PIÑA | MANDARINA | MANGO | GUAYABA | FRESA

This past weekend I noticed that one of my local (non-Mexican) grocery stores carries an impressive selection of flavors of Jarritos! They have almost every flavor that exists – in fact, I couldn’t even fit all of them into one photo. I love these fruity refrescos, especially the limón-flavored one with a taco! Que rico, ¿no?

  • What’s your favorite flavor of these refrescos Mexicanos?

¡Feliz cumpleaños, Benito Juárez!

Feliz cumpleaños to one of Mexico’s most famous presidents, Benito Juárez, who was born on this day in 1806. This monument pictured above, gifted to the city of Chicago in 1977 by Mexican president José López Portillo, stands along Michigan Avenue in the Plaza of the Americas next door to the Wrigley Building and across the street from the Chicago Tribune.

Often regarded as Mexico’s greatest and most-loved leader, Juárez died of a heart attack in 1872. If you need to brush up on your Mexican history, read about Benito Juárez and what he did for the Mexican people both before and during his presidency. You might also be surprised to know that he spent a short time living in New Orleans from 1853-1854. Juárez came from a Zapotec family in Oaxaca and served in a variety of political positions during his career. Today, there are numerous monuments and locations dedicated or named in his honor. In Mexico City, the international airport is just one of many, many locations named after Juárez.

Check out some additional photos and details about the Chicago monument on the Public Art in Chicago blog.

  • Do you know of a monument or location dedicated to Benito Juárez? Leave a comment with where it’s located!
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