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Traditions of taste

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By Jesus Adrian Ledezma

Chiles en Nogada

Legend says that in 1821 General Agustin de Iturbide planned a celebration like no other when the Spanish Crown recognized Mexico as an official independent territory.

By coincidence, his event occurred the same day the general celebrated his birthday, so the Augustine nuns (no relationship to the general) prepared a dish to please the “National Liberator.” They used a recipe that they had been cooking for years, but this time they added some new elements to commemorate such an important festivity.

The result was Chiles en Nogada: chile poblano peppers stuffed with a ground beef stew in a creamy walnut sauce, embellished with red pomegranate seeds and parsley leafs.

The platillo was very symbolic because it had the colors of the new Mexican flag: verde, blanco y rojo. The nuns were so committed to pleasing the general’s palate, they used the most typical ingredients of the region, which reached their best taste by the end of summer.

Chiles en Nogada is the traditional dish during the month of September. It’s part of the independence celebration and a way to savor, through its sweet and salty flavors, the glorious moments in the history of the Mexican nation.

Where:
Barrio Café
2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix

La Hacienda
7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale

Pupusas

Stuffed with beans, cheese, chicharron or mixed; hot or cold; with curtido (pickled cabbage) and hot sauce or without them; made at home or at a restaurant, the world of pupusas is simply delicious.

The Pupusas are thick grilled corn tortillas filled with a variety of ingredients and topped with tomato sauce and cabbage slaw spiced with red chilies and vinegar. Archeological research shows that the Salvadoran’s national dish was created by the Pipil tribes almost two thousand years ago.

Sadly, the Pipiles villages disappeared after a volcano eruption, but this platillo’s recipe remained alive for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the pupusas spread across Centro America, becoming so popular that every November the 13th Salvadorans celebrate the National Pupusa Day.

In El Salvador this dish is not only important for its nutritional, social and cultural value, but also for its successful commercialization, which has contributed to the economy of the country.  Although the pupusas are based on corn and cheese, new ingredients have been added throughout the years, including salmon and lobster. This proves that as we and our world evolve, so do pupusas.

Where:
Eliana’s
1627 N. 24th St., Phoenix

Restaurante Salvadoreño
303 E. Southern Ave., Ste 113, Mesa

Churrascos

Las Pampas, the great wide plain areas that connect Argentina, Uruguay and southern Brazil into one beautiful landscape, are the territories of the legendary gauchos (cowboys), the European immigrants who lived off the land and worked the cattle. The Gauchos were (and still are) identified by their woolen ponchos, bombachas (loose baggy pants), nomadic lifestyle and churrascos: cuts of meat grilled in its own juices over a wood burning fire.

This cooking tradition made its way outside this region and today is very well-known across the Americas and Europe. A churrasco is usually served with green salad, mashed or fried potatoes and sometimes a fried egg. The dressing por excelencia for steak and chorizos is chimichurri, an Argentinean sauce made from parsley, oregano, garlic, onion and olive oil.

The sauce’s ingredients are also a reflection of the Argentinean society, which is a mixture of Spanish and Italian elements. The Gauchos gathered to celebrate with family and friends their appreciation of the land.

By cooking churrascos they added flavor to their festivities without ever thinking that in the future that sabor would be shared by other generations who, in return, would make of churrascos a Latin American tradition of taste.

Where:
Steaks R Us
2740 S. Alma School Road, Mesa

Black Angus
Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, and Chandler

Outback Steakhouse
Phoenix, Glendale, Surprise, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Chandler

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