Latino culture, Mexican food

A to Z Challenge: P is for Pepino and Q is for …

This is all you need for a cool summer appetizer: Pepinos con chile

P is for Pepino, a cucumber.

You know how certain seasons have smells associated with them?

Some of these are Mexican food aromas like Christmas is chocolately champurrado and steaming green chile tamales.

Summer’s fragrances in the kitchen are the sweetness of watermelon and lemony taste of crisp cucumbers. Since pepinos are plentiful in the summer, they make for a cool dish on a hot day.

The recipe is super simple:

Peel and slice 2 cucumbers into circles or spears, arrange on a dish with edges

Squeeze a large lemon or two limes over the pepinos

Dust the top of the pepinos with chile powder or Tajin

Refrigerate if you want colder cucumbers.

Cucumber water accumulates at the bottom of the dish, you can mix this with cold water for a cucumber drink.

Another version is a cucumber salad. Slice the cucumbers and quarter them, put them in a bowl, add lemon/lime juice, a dash of salt, chopped cilantro, and diced tomato, red pepper flakes or Tajin. Chill.

Onto the letter Q. Q is for Que and Qué?

¿Qué….? in a question usually means What? Quiero saber qué es….. (indirect question)

¡Qué…..! in an exclamation usually means How….! or What a ….! (the accent on the e means one’s voice raises higher).

que (relative pronoun used to introduce a subordinate clause) usually means “that”, but can also mean whichwho or what depending on the context. (no stress over the e).

And if that’s not enough to remember, the slang phrase “Que qué?” means “Say what?!

¿Que qué?


See you mañana.

Latino culture, Latino family tradition, Mexican food, Mexican Vegan food

A to Z Challenge: O is for Olla

A variety of cooking pots, photo by Scott Umstattd for


I’ve passed the halfway mark of the A to Z Challenge. Yay me!

Today’s letter is O. O is for Olla.

An olla (hoy-ya) is a cooking pot. The pot can be any of the sizes above.

In my house, when Mom asked me to get her olla, the conversation was some version of this:

 “Small olla, big olla, the medium one?

“The one for the beans.” 

“Big olla then. Just say the olla for beans.”

“You’ve sat at that table cleaning beans for ten minutes, which other olla did you think?”

On a cold evening when Mom had more days in the week left before her next check, we feasted on frijoles de olla and hot tortillas.

The recipe is simple but not quick*:

1 lb. pinto beans, soaked for two hours. Rinse first.

6 cups water

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno

1/4 yellow onion

2 tablespoons salt

Combine all in a large olla, add the water. When it boils, cover and reduce flame to simmer. Check after an hour; salt to taste. When they’re soft they’re ready.

Cumin is also used but I hate the smell so no cumin in my recipe. Salt pork or bacon can be added.

If I’m making chile beans, like I am tonight, I add cooked soy chorizo, “beefless ground” (Trader Joe’s) and powdered New Mexican chile. The no meat recipe is for the vegans in my family.

The simple dish looks like this:

Frijoles de Olla, homestyle pinto beans. Photo by gailanng

Buen provecho! (Bon Appetit).


Here are a few A to Z Challenges that I’ve enjoyed reading:

For funny and weird French expressions see Evelyne’s blog.

Margo’s View: that little voice.

A blog of great DorkyMom doodles.

Short-short stories from Trina Balaka Looks Back.


Latino culture, Mexican Cooking, Mexican food

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fideo, a Mexican side dish

A to Z Challenge for bloggers

Day Six, already? Today’s letter in the A to Z Challenge is F.

The first word I thought of was Fideo, not Fi-deo, but Fee-day-0; which is Angel Hair Pasta.

I was going to write about Fajas (girdles) or Flores (flowers) but food won out. So you know what’s on my mind.

Fideo is another ‘poor person’s’ dish, like enchiladas with cheese, but much easier and faster to make. However, it’s not the main meal, it’s a side dish.

Fideo may have been the first food I tried to make on my own, as a kid, for the family. I recall this dish as comfort food.

Some people called fideo the Mexican spaghetti, but don’t let a Mexican mom hear that comparison. Spaghetti is spaghetti and fideo is fideo: never the twain shall meet.

There are two types of fideo: seco as in dry and regular or ‘soupy’ as my mom says Fideo soupy (a great example of a Spanglish term to describe a dish).

Technically, it’s sopa de fideo.

Our household made fideo soupy only. The hot caldo (broth) was full of flavorful tomato sauce with onion and garlic flavors.

Dry fideo or angel hair pasta

This is how it looks when it comes out of the package. We never cooked the entire coils but broke them up into bite-size pieces, sauteed the fideo in hot oil, with onions, garlic, salt, maybe a dash of oregano.

After the fideo is toasty, you add four ounces tomato sauce and eight ounces of water, (you could use vegetable or chicken stock instead) bring to a boil, lower and test for to see if it’s soft after 10 minutes.

That’s it, the fideo is done.

Sopa de Fideo