Mexican Holiday food

Tamales, Sugar Cane, and Nuns

Frida Kahlo with poinsettias in her hair and parrot from Champagne Confetti Co. on
 Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Frida Kahlo.
Champagne Confetti Co. on

I’ve been busy with tamale making for the past three days. We added an extra day for the vegan tamales.

Tamale making (or tamalada) is something my family prepares for days ahead and that I’ve talked about in previous years.

For Christmas, there are ingredients we use for our tamale making session and for Mexican traditional beverages: Champurrado, Ponche, and Rompope. Personally, I don’t make ponche or rompope because I’d be in the kitchen for an additional day.

These ingredients are hard to find unless you live in Southern California. We have several Mexican supermarkets in the city where I live. There is no “Hispanic” aisle in these stores. The whole store stocks Mexican products.

It’s not unusual to see this:

Sugarcane used for Ponche Navideño. Tamarind and fruit is also used.

The sugarcane is used to make Ponche. If one wants an alcoholic addition to this beverage, you’d pick up these:

Rompope Santa Clara

Rompope is an eggnog-like drink with eggs, cinnamon, and rum. A couple of these and you’re not fit to make tamales anymore.

I enjoy the family time where we don our aprons, grab our butter knife or spoon to spread masa, and reminisce about Christmas tamalada’s past

Ingredients for vegan tamales: vegan masa, pollo asado vegan, vegan cheese.
Tamale making for the vegans in the family

After the hours of spreading masa on ojas (corn husks), folding, lifting huge pots with four dozens of tamales within, we sit and relax a bit. This is when I start making the champurrado.

Two hours later, the tamales are ready. We enjoy them with a cup of champurrado, this year doused with a little Irish cream, and enjoy a late evening movie.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and feliz navidad to everyone!

vegan champurrado, Irish style
Vegan Champurrado with vegan Bailey’s Irish Cream
Latino culture

A to Z Blogging Challenge: The Whole Enchilada

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Today is day five of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and the letter is E.

The first thing that comes to mind for E is Enchilada, as in the food, not the idiom of “the whole thing.”

Enchiladas are my mom’s favorite Mexican dish. It’s such a simple dish so I asked her why she liked them so much.

red chile enchiladas with Mexican cheese

“They remind me of my mother,” she said. “She made them a lot because they’re not expensive, just corn tortillas, chile, and cheese, oh and onion.”

Enchiladas were a poor persons food.

Mom does not like ‘fancy’ enchiladas made with meat. Nor the varieties such as Enchiladas Suizas (Swiss Enchiladas named because they have sour cream on top) or the “green” ones, with tomatillo sauce.

Once she ordered enchiladas at a restaurant. They responded they only had chicken enchiladas.

“Leave out the chicken and give me the cheese,” Mom said.

“We can’t do that, the chicken’s in the sauce.”

“Pick out the chicken and use the sauce for my enchiladas.”

“We can’t do that.”

“Give me the damn enchiladas then.”

Mom picked the chicken out of the enchiladas, forking chicken bits over to the side of her plate. “They could have done this if they wanted too.”

In Mexican cuisine, you can’t make a more traditional dish than enchiladas. First, they use maize for the tortillas, as in corn tortillas, not flour. Second, they use dried chile to make the sauce.

Today, you can find as many varieties of enchiladas, but the original dish reaches back to the Mayan people of Mexico. They first used corn tortillas dipped in chile sauce and wrapped around bits of fish. The use of cheese wasn’t one of the ingredients.

The first recipe was first documented by the Spanish conquistadores, who used other fillings for their enchiladas. Later, the dish made its way into the Mexican cookbooks of the early 1800’s and later the American cookbooks of the 1900’s.

And that’s the whole enchilada.