Tuesday, April 12, 2005
New Mexican Food: The Rant
Now This is New Mexican
I love Mexican food. I LOVE Mexican food. I'm not referring to Chi-chi's or Taco Bell. Oh no. Pretty much I love Mexican food you can only get in Mexico or US states close to Mexico. Food you can't get in Boston. So most of the time, there is a small hole in my life, a missing piece in my daily food intake that if I lived elsewhere, would be taken up with sopes, sopas, carnitas, tortas and lots of proper salsa. There are a few decent places I can go when desperate (the best, imho, being Tacos Lupita in Porter Square.) But mostly I just suffer quietly, waiting for my next opportunity to find culinary bliss.
So when I make a plan to go to New Mexico, there is definitely a plan for eating this kind of food. And I've heard of this "New Mexican" food concept, extolled by many tour books. Ohhh the red chile or the green chile or the mixed red and green, called Christmas. Oohh, sopapillas. So I was eager to see what this was all about. I went there and ate them. I ate red, I ate green. I ate sopapillas. It was good. Red chile was especially interesting. Kindof bitter and fiery. But you know what, real Mexican is still better.
I'm not sure if I completely determined the difference between NM food and Mexican. New Mexican seems milder than Mexican, more beany and ricey. Although in some ways it is spicier than Mexican. Mexican food is not generally that spicy unless you are eating peppers, whereas this NM chile thing can be pretty hot.
Anyhow, one of my favorite places in town was Pepe's, above. That's my other theory, still upheld. The best Mexican food is the cheapest hole in the wall. Fancy Mexican (or NMexican) is kinda just expensive blandified Mexican. This was true in Mexico as well. Not sure why or maybe I just haven't gone to the right places yet.
These are proper tamales (dulce) from a Mexican place in Santa Fe (not New Mexican). They were fragrant and wonderful and one dollar a piece. Perfect in every way. Alicia's Tortilleria off Cerillos. It helps to speak Spanish to go there. Thanks, Chowhound for the tip! I also bought a dozen tortillas there (also one dollar), still so warm and fragrant it was all you could do not to just wrap your face in them and go to sleep.
Every proper New Mexican meal supposedly includes sopapillas. I think this is a very good idea. They end up being dessert, because you spread honey on them and they are very good and fattening and fragrant and like a big donut of love. Thus ends my New Mexican culinary sojourn. For now. I still have to tell you about Chocolatesmith.