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Mexican Food. History and Geography

LOL... I got an email forwarded to a new email address from an old email address that someone had posted here on something I had almost totally forgotten until I was reminded how insulting (and incredibly wrong) that Diva person was.


Feb 09, 2015
camper in Home Cooking

Mexican Food. History and Geography

This is educational.
I would have assumed that beef was not that important to Sonoran food (and obliviously not to Baja food) due to the lack of grazing and the distance from the Llano.
We had some beef when I grew up.. cal-mex is probably right.
Mostly chicken
Lots of seafood

However it is difficult for me to accept "far off the mark" and "filtered" in the same response.

I could not be more sure of the influence of the Sonoran that the immigrants brought to Los Angeles foods or of their geography and tradition. Crossing into California, it seems to me, would not have varied their ways. For example there would not have been and still may no be Sonorans who re-fried beans as a side dish. Re-frying beans is what one did when one cooked too many the night before. It was a way to stretch the beans. Also you would be hard pressed to find a Sonroan immigrant then (perhaps today) that had ever heard of a flour tortilla. Sonornas also where not chilli-pepper hot in their condiments (relatively speaking). Hot chillies it seems to me were primarily a product of the far eastern indio and that, in of itself, is quite important. My experience is that even though the culture of my day "looked down" on the indio they inherited the bulk of their diet and therefore their cooking from the aboriginal culture.


Jul 18, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Mexican Food. History and Geography

Just so there is no further confusion on this point there would be almost zero chance that families and cafes in the three northern Mexican states mentioned that would stuff a chilli relleno with ground meat. Not even chicken.. only cheese.

I made a mistake.. I dissed Tex Mex. Tex Mex is not East LA. Tex Mex is not Baja. Tex Mex is not Sonora. Tex Mex is maybe in Chihuahua but I doubt it.

I am really sorry that I could not make this more clear. I don't know how I could have made it clearer. I am interested in "northern" Mexican food recipes and history

All this really points out how many experts there are in Mexican food when there is no such thing as all-encompassing Mexican food. All food is regional. What is American Food? New England boiled dinner? Texas Smoked brisket? San Francisco cioppino? sour dough?

Almost sorry I made this post.

Jul 18, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Mexican Food. History and Geography

Sorry if I offended... Yes I judged all Tex Mex based on that one meal. My bad. And yes I know the geography of the MX state. I pointed out, perhaps without skill, that the border north and west of Big Bend is not, to me, the same as everything else down stream. Chihuahua has the benefit of cuisine from the mild chilli north (Hatch) to the hotter chilli south, to the green gardens of the east along the river. Something Sonora does not enjoy and Baja would never guess. Thanks

Jul 17, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Mexican Food. History and Geography

Hello there
Some of you my know from my old posts that I was born and raised in East LA and have memories of home cooking (actually neighbor cooking as we were dust bowl Okie Gringos and the neighbors taught my Mom how to cook). Thinking about those times in the 50s I have developed a thirst for knowledge concerning the history of northern Mexican cooking. Northern would be Baja, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Predominantly poor people there but some of the best traditional dishes.. Mexico's version of Provencal food perhaps.

As an aside ---
I was in Houston some years ago and went to dinner with my Boss at a Mexican restaurant. Unsure of the names and description of some of the dishes I ordered a Chili Relleno dinner plate feeling sure it would be a comfortable dining experience. When I cut into my first chilli I was shocked to find it stuffed with ground meat. I leaned back and said, "well this is different.. Ive never had meat in a chili relleno before". My boss grinned and said proudly, "Tex-mex."

So this is why I didn't include any of the states along the Texas Border (North of Big Bend cooking in not influenced by anything except dust). South along the Rio Grand their cuisine is obviously a Mexican/gringo mix they are proud of

End aside ----

As for the states mentioned I find Sonoran foods to be the most eclectic. They, like Baja have a strong sea-food influence but seem most grounded in Corn dishes (Tamale, tortilla, etc) and vegetables out of the river basins. Meat is predominately chicken. Sonoran food also picks up a lot of the hotter chili dishes and goat from Chihuahua (don't you just love that name? cheee wa wa). Chihuahua has a ton of different chillies, lots of vegetables and beans along the rio grand and the meat is predominantly chicken with goat and beef... and cheese from the dairy along the river too.

So I am just blabbing here. I really would like to have more authentic northern Mexican receipts with maybe some specific geography and history. To me "authentic" means traditional family food and something you will probably not find in a Mexican restaurants north of the border.

Any takers? Any books?

Jul 16, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Fish Sticks--yes, fish sticks!

We are not near a TJs (three hour drive) but when we got there I bought the fishsticks and the cod as suggested. The cod is real good. The fishticks are like I remember as a kid but too small. Yes the breading is thinner but the ratio of breading to fish in not much better than store bought... but they are really tasty.

Jul 12, 2013
camper in General Topics

Trader Joe's Korean Ribs

woool...I didn't know what kimich was so I just put them on the charcoal grill and we two adults ate most of them... man these are good. Had new jersey style salt red poataoes with them and coleslaw from my own home grown head of cabbage.

Thanks for the ideas

BTW no instrutions on the package so that's why I asked.

Jul 12, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's Korean Ribs

We live out in the boonies near the Grand Canyon and driving to Vegas is about a three hour one way trip so we never pass up the chance to load our trunk with a few cases of three-buck-Chuck (used to be two, sadly). So anyway I am walking the isles and I spot frozen Korean Ribs. Now my dilemma is what to do with them?

Any meal ideas?
Anyone tried them?

Jun 22, 2013
camper in Home Cooking

Fish Sticks--yes, fish sticks!

I can find fish sticks all over the place and it doesn't matter to me if they are flaked and formed or solid fish. What I CANNOT find is the thin breading I grew up on. It was crispy not gooey with oil. There was a lot of fish you could see when you bit into one. I misssssssssssssssss them!

Dec 09, 2012
camper in General Topics

"to the tooth" is way over used.

I don't know how many people I have known who are pasta experts because they can pronounce "al dente" and then tell you what it means in English. Everyone is in such a hurry to be gourmet correct that they CONTINUOUSLY undertook all pasta they serve.

There are three degrees of done-ness recognized by most chefs.

1- al dente, "too the tooth" barley done
2- firm
3- soft

I will guess that 80% of the fine restaurants I have dined cook pasta firm because they would lose nearly all their clientele in Los Angels or Naples if they served it "too the tooth". Some Italian interpretations of "Al dente" means you have to have teeth to eat it. Old people can't gum it. Somehow this craziness persists... you are getting the finest pasta dishes made with firm pasta, not pasta that you are required to have teeth to eat it.

Exasperated home chef


Apr 19, 2012
camper in General Topics

Hoison sauce stiry fry

I live in small town of 5000 in Southern Utah. Big enough to have two Western Family contracted markets. We are lucky to have "anything" ethnic on the counter. Dynasty is all there is and is the reason I started making my own. BTW the nearest BIG CIty is a one hour drive to Page Az

So now that I have been informed I just bought three jars Koon Chun Hoisin Sauce from an on-line store. Should be here Monday and I'll report my taste opinion

Thanks for the help everyone

May 20, 2011
camper in General Topics

Hoison sauce stiry fry

# 4 tablespoons soy sauce
# 1 tablespoon peanut butter or 1 tablespoon black bean paste
# 1 tablespoon honey or 1 tablespoon molasses or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
# 2 teaspoons white vinegar
# 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
# 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
# 2 teaspoons sesame oil
# 20 drops chinese hot sauce (or habenero or jalapenos)
# 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

May 19, 2011
camper in General Topics

Hoison sauce stiry fry

I know how to make it and love what I make but it is a pain.So many ingredients and worst of all peanut butter that wont emulsify no matter how hard I shake it!!!!

Would love to have a good hoison sauce out of a jar but the Dyanasty stuff I got was pretty bad when I tried it.

Your suggestions for over the counter or internet bought?

May 19, 2011
camper in General Topics

In Remeberence of Mickey

In remembrance of the best domestic cook I have ever known, Mickey.

Her Thanksgiving dinners were always perfect. Perfect turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, home made cranberry sauce, and burnt rolls LOL. But the main thing I remember is her teaching me how to make gravy. Her gravy was always rich and dark and, as pop often said, “the gravy makes the meal”.

I learned to make her gravy by running back into the kitchen and watching and asking questions as she prepared. So here is her gravy recipe as best I can remember.

Put carrots and/or onions in the bottom of the turkey roasting pan. They will caramelize and add a rich darkness to the drippings which will color the gravy later.

After removing the turkey from the oven you will let it stand anyway right? So let your drippings stand too… let them cool down. You can’t make Mickey gravy in hot grease! Once the drippings cool mix in some flower and some water or broth or whatever. By letting the drippings cool the flower will mix in easily. It will not lump! I don’t know how many times I have heard, “my gravy is lumpy”. With near 100% certainty it is because, as Mickey said, “if it’s too hot it makes a bunch of mini-dumplings”.. or maybe that was Emirel on TV. Another way to do it is to mix a slurry of water and flour in a bowl and add that as you need to.

Anyway she just added flour or slurry mixing it slowly. She told me once she sometimes “cheated” if the gravy wasn’t dark enough by using a few drops of “Kitchen Bouquet”. hahahaha

Anyway I have been using Mickey’s recipe all my life. I have almost never had less than a, “great gravy” response from guests. Liz’s kids will be here for thanksgiving dinner and Mickey will have made the gravy in a way.


Cornstarch can be used in place of flour as it will emulsify much easier in hot drippings than will flower but has these problems:

It looks like corn starch gravy (glassy sheen)

It tasks like corn starch gravy (I can tell the difference)

If it gets too hot or cooks too long it will come apart.


Nov 20, 2010
camper in Home Cooking

Chinese vs Italian Pine Nuts (pignoli)..big price difference. Taste difference?

Ok.. time to gloat. Forgive me in advance but I live in southern Utah and have twenty or so pinons on my property. Had a very wet year and all of them are pregnant with lil cones right now. I expect to gather 10 or 15 gallons.
My favorite pine nut recipe follows:
Butter in a pan melted
add chopped onion
do the onion cooking thing
mix in raw rice and chicken broth
do the rice cooking thing

in separate "dry" pan add pint nuts over medium fire
keep moving them around... under no circumstances stop
They will begin to sweat a little oil and smell a little like popcorn
watch real close until they brown.. do not burn!
set aside

when rice is done mix in pine nuts and some melted butter and serve hot with your fav shrimp dish

Jun 01, 2010
camper in General Topics

Do you feel guilty when dinner doesn't include a vegetable?

I would if I was serving dinner to my vegan friends.

Jun 01, 2010
camper in General Topics

Are Sushi Overpriced?

I learned something reading this post even though I don't like sushi. I learned sushi is plural. I'd have never guessed. Maybe in conversation sometime I wont say, "the sushi here is supposed to be good".

Jun 01, 2010
camper in General Topics

fried gravy

All interesting and enlightening... thanks.
I don't think I would ever use corn starch for a gravy. It makes it look funny and doesn't have the same taste. And besides I don't need the instant emulsifying utility of corn starch since I think I have become good at mixing flower into whatever without it lumping. I remember watching Emril say, "let your drippings cool before adding flour otherwise you gonna make a bunch of lil dumplins".
So I always use flower.
I think my guest wasn't really talking about frying.. maybe like me she just mixes it and cooks it until bubbly and the raw flour taste has subsided and then slowly adds back the broth, grease, or milk. She just called it frying. I think frying is what is explained above.
As far as color, I never browned the flour to make color. When roasting I usually put a cut up onion and carrot in the bottom of the pan and they caramelize. It makes the chicken drippings naturally brown. My roast chicken gravy is always a little brown... even with milk gravy.

May 31, 2010
camper in General Topics

fried gravy

Hello all. I had guests for a dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy... simple fair.
One guest complimented the gravy and asked if I used corn starch. Does anyone use corn starch to make gravy? weird...but what do I know. We talked at some length about gravy making and he told me his mother "fried" the flour in the left over chicken grease.

Has anyone ever fried your gravy? what advantage does it hold?

Me I just let the roast chicken drippings cool down some, blend in some flour with a whisk, get the mixture a little hot and slowly blend in milk. Maybe that is fried? What am I missing here?

May 18, 2010
camper in General Topics

Best Instant Coffee

I love good coffee... I really dislike any coffee other than black... nothing in it except coffee.
But this does remind me of the 60s on the graveyard shift factory I worked in. They had a coffee machine that dispensed cocoa and chicken soup too. I became somewhat addicted to the coffee machine instant I guess. So that even today I prefer instant when I am working in my shop. It is so different that is just... well... so different!
Cant handle it for breakfast though

Nov 13, 2009
camper in General Topics

I Like Cheap Mexican Beer

I cannot be sure.. it was so long ago.. the 1960s
No Corona
No dos equis
Maybe Bohemia back then
Tecate for sure.. every neighbor drank tecate out on their summer stoop in east LA.
We spread lime over the top of the can to kill bacteria, nothing more.
In those days canned Mexican beer was an adventure.
Brew 102 was safer and it was made just down the street on Mission I think

Wondering if the ubiquitous Mexican lime slice came from bacteria infested cans

Oct 21, 2009
camper in Features

Mexican Everyday

The thing is, like bread, anything can be layered in a tortilla.
When I grew up we made tacos/burritos out of ANYTHING that was left over and hot on the stove combined our own personal taste or cuisine of choice blending salsa and tampico therewith.
One has to eventually realize that THAT is what tacos and burritos were invented for!

(I think I can remember making running-burritos out of potato, onion and chicken)

Oct 21, 2009
camper in Features

Mexican Food - wheat vs corn tortillas

I'm not sure what "rules" mean but I was raised in East LA in the 50s and there were almost zero flour tortillas at home or in restaurants. Everything was corn in various diameters and thickness and degree of cooking.

Just some nomenclature to consider:

A "taco" was a corn tortilla with anything at all you wanted to put into it and was folded up and eaten out of hand.
A "burrito" (little burro) was the same as a taco except for the way it was folded... just like the flour burritos today except it was corn and the top was left open and we kids could make one and go back out an play on the run. Nothing dripped out of it. You ate it from the open top down.

Mexican food has changed substantially in the last half century


Oct 02, 2009
camper in General Topics

Mexcian food defined [Moved from LA Board]

This post is for so many who try to define Mexican food and cant.
That is because no one can. You cant define Mexican food just like you cant define American food. New England boiled dinner? Kansas city BBQ? New Orleans jambalaya?

But I can tell you how I was raised and what we ate and then I'll tell you what I would like to call it.

I was raised in East Los Angles in the 1950s.
We ate pot beans more often than bean paste (often called refried) and use real lard for all frying.
We roasted peppers on the gas range.
We never had a flour tortilla but we had burritos (little burro) made with a corn tortilla.
If you put stuff in a small corn tortilla and just brought the ends together it was a taco.
If you use a bigger corn tortilla and wrap it up burrito fashion you have a burrito.
Still no flour tortillas.
We never smothered things in cheese and even when we went out to dinner on Brooklyn ave there was no such thing as a combination plate.
Nobody stuck a good dish under a broiler just to melt the cheese.
We had many kinds of homemade soups and lots or rice dishes.
Cheese enchiladas almost exclusively.
Enchilada sauces were not good with meats so just cheese
Meat was eaten in small portions or in stews and chicken was cooked most often with pork right behind it.
Carnitas is still my favorite.
We made our own tamales sometimes but could buy them on the corner any time we wanted them.
Same thing goes for corn tortillas.
A bottle of hot sauce or two were always on the table.
We used a lot of chilies and grew our own right along with the tomatoes and carrots.
There was always a bowl of fresh salsa on the table and each person used it as they liked... sort of like the way salt and pepper shakers are used.
Seafood was on the table often... shrimp and small perch and bass and the like and muscles which we took off the pier pilings in San Pedro.
We made and ate ceviche quite often.

But anyway, as you can see the cuisine is pretty basic but it was good.

I call this Sonoron Mexican food because I guess 90% of the East LA Mexcian population were from Sonora (or baja) or their parents were.

I don't know what to call the Anglo Mexican dishes you get in most restaurants today.When one advertises "Sonoran style" I know the menu will be mostly anglo designed dishes.

But I do know what I grew up with I can find it the small restaurants in Mexican neighborhoods.

That's all I wanted to say.

Sep 06, 2009
camper in General Topics