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Maya SF (Split from Sonoma/Santa Rosa thread)

As I was enterteining a friend chef from Mexico, we decided to go to Richard Sandoval's Maya in SOMA.

It was truly a dissapointing experience, wether from a Mexican cuisine perspective or not, the price and hype do not reflect the food quality.

Las quesadillas surtidas were warm not pipping hot, and the filling (rajas con queso y champinon) were too watery resulting in soggy empanadas. The queso cotija was commercial and flavorless, the salsas were limp, no zing of any kind (herbal, citrus, spice..)

The ceviche was a "higher quality" coctel de camaron.. meaning, the fish was cut into pieces and cooked and then placed in a tamarind chili sauce. The traditional coctel de camaron has Orange Fanta =) and this was not far from being that. Fish was overcooked and the marinade was either non existent or too light. The sauce was a bit more complex but it was missing something.. and it was served w/o any crackers or chips or something to sop up the juices.

I won't even get into the sopa de elote with a huitlacoche dumpling.

But what really shocked us was the two main plates: pipian verde (the special of the day) y costillas de puerco. The pipian came with a giant piece of pork which had no seasoning at all! The pipian was watered down and lacked its typical texture. The costillas came with a sauce that tasted exactly like the Knorr Suiza sauces you buy in a bottle with a sandy aftertaste that overpowered everything.

Service was great, however, friendly, on-top-of-it, knowledgable.

I know there is a desire for more upscale Mexican cuisine but the food should be good; traditional or not, it should be seasoned and presented beautifully (3 of our 4 plates came with the same green dust in the rim).



De Afghanan from Fremont - now in San Francisco and Berkeley

Did the chow-chow already happen? Or are people still interested?

El Cactus Tacos - Tacos Mineros?

Yeah, round this parts of Mexico they are called tacos de canasta and you buy them from the "canasteras" who set up shop in a corner street and sell all kinds of yummy tacos de canasta... de frijol, papa, de cabeza, de enchilada.. and of course, memelitas, enchiladas de mole (traditional: NO CHICKEN filling).....

Are Americans Scared of Their Food?

Fear is our bread and butter, not only with food. And by now, I think we are addicted to this hightened state of being, that even the smallest stimuli, makes us react and move from one state to the other. But I don´t´think this is new. I remember decades ago: sugar is good, is bad, fat is good, egg is good no, it is bad. For being one of the countries in the world with more education and access to information, it sure seems like we are also the most gullible. Where did personal criteria go?

Jul 21, 2007
mirilara in Features

A Serious Rarity

and if the the female cook is from oaxaca then she is oaxaqueña, not oaxaqueño. =)

Jul 16, 2007
mirilara in Features

Maggi Sauce... out of curiosity (moved from LA)

We use it a lot in Mexico. People put it in a lot of stews, on pizza, and of course, the most important use is to flavor micheladas: beer with lime, chili, salt, and... MAGGI!
At home we use it in our hamburger and meat loaf recipes.
We also add it to cream with a bit of parmesan to make a nice and flavorful dip that goes well with chips.
In comparing with other international friends, we found that Maggi, like Milo, has been absorbed into many developing countries cuisines. =)

Jul 12, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

You Could Argue That It's 50 Percent Humane

Yeah, just wrong. There are other ways in which the consumer can know the fish is the freshest!

Jul 12, 2007
mirilara in Features

Lindsay Gets Cleansed by Kombucha

This sounds like "tibicos." My mother bought some live culture (we lovingly call them "animalitos") that we have in a giant glass jar and feed them with "piloncillo" (one of the first products of sugar cane). We drink a glass every day = it is sour and fizzy and sometimes, it is so vinegary, I simply refuse to drink it. It could be a coincidence but my 60+ year parents heal better, feel better, and have fewer pains than before.

Jul 11, 2007
mirilara in Features

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

A couple of year ago, the Appleton Art Institute in WI, asked me for the name of Mexican artists for a "5 de mayo" exhibit (how ironic!).

I called up my father and we decided to make a piece on the taco, the national dish, the identification of mexicanity.

On one side of the fram was the Mexican flag all made with fruits and vegetables (and a giant skull, coz, of course, so much of our identity is also related to our connection with death and the spirits), on the other side were the names of 50 different types of tacos. Just 50, coz the others didn´t fit.

Next to the painting was a poem, a taco poem mind you, in both spanish and english. People were encouraged to write something down to be sent to our Art Center in Tehuacan, where we would later show the taco piece AND the tortilla piece (which was also shown in the palacio de bellas artes in Mexico City).

Tacos are diverse in their fillings (taco de papa, taco de enchilada, taco de cabeza, taco de cazo), in the way they are cooked (tacos de canasta, empanadas crudas, tacos fritos de papa), their shape (flautas, dobladas de frijol), whether they are covered in sauce or not (taquitos ahogados, seco de machaca), and by its formality as a taco or not (heheheh)... plainly wether someone rolled it or folded it for you or not (like Eat_Nopal´s Taquiza).

Jul 03, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

For sure.

I did a little survey with the women from my town in Puebla, and their answers could be boiled down to what you say.

That is why the question just turns into a "I saw/ate/had/know/am."

Personal experiences, in fact, colors our entire cosmovision and, of course, our ideas of authenticity.

Jul 03, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

Well, cinco de mayo is in fact celebrated here in my home state of Puebla. However, it is not an actual celebration. There is an official/military parade to conmemorate the battle, like u said.

And yes, the US has many reasons to celebrate it because you are right, the US goverment was highly invested in the French-Mexican war (the US would be rather different had the outcome been different).

There are a lot of celebrations that do not end up becoming this big, particularly when the reason for celebration, in this case, the fact that this particular battle was won, are compartively small.

Anthropologists have studied this phenomenon of appropriation of "false" identity markers in the context of 5 de mayo. Although there was a huge corporate push behind what is now a big "american" celebration, like cristina says, the first people to celebrate it where in fact Chicanos.

In its early days, 5 de mayo, was celebrated almost as if it was Mexican Independence day. That is why so many Americans continue to believe it is something really big in Mexico: because Mexican-Americans/Chicanos used to use that day to celebrate. In many cities around the US you couldn´t even find a "Grito" celebration.

Jul 03, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

I strongly disagree with you.

There are at least 100 varieties of tacos in Mexico that are eaten at all chow times, in all kinds of establishments or non establishments, and in every single region of our country.

The "taco truck" is only one type of taco that it is consumed exclusively at night, but be sure, many more Mexicans eat tacos for dinner than people eat hot dogs in the states for lunch, and I can honestly say, there is no comparison.

The "taco" is our national dish.

Why? Because taco is just something inside of a tortilla, and judging by the 2 kilos (4.5 pounds) of tortillas consumed, in average, by a Mexican family, the numbers are high in the taco department.

Just because you did not find tacos in the "comidas corridas" you had in your visits does not mean they are not a huge part of our "authentic" food. It just shows that tacos are not prominent in comidas corridas.

Jul 02, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

It is also interesting to talk about what Mexican immigrants think of Mexican food.

The struggle for "Mexican" identity within Mexican immigrants to US has been happening since the beginning of immigration.

Mexicans first started celebrating "5 de mayo," even though it is not a holiday in Mexico, because they needed to have a holiday were they celebrated Mexico and Mexicanity without really affiliating themselves with Mexico.

To discuss access to new foods and cultures and they way they intersect poverty and need, we begin to understand that authenticity is a flowing and contextual concept, that only very few people are obsessed about.

Ask a Mexican what they think is authentic American, and they will have some ideas, despite the fact that most Americans think they are "undefinable" as a culture. Ask an American what is authentic Mexican, and surely, as we have this whole thread to prove, they will have some ideas, even though most Mexicans can only talk about what they know.

And then we can start talking about were "authentic" starts: indigenous practices BEFORE the conquista (extremly subjective)? authentic of the past 500 years? of the past 100? of the past 50? where does it start or end... this "authentic"?

I say, go out and eat. If it´s good, learn its history and understand where it came from. And then, keep eating.

Good food is not always authentic.... =)

Jul 02, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

Diane Kennedy met my grandparents when they lived in Zitacuaro. When they moved with us, she came too, to map the authentic recipes of the region, like Mole Miahuateco.

She is a serious woman, determined to truthfully record authentic Mexican cuisine.

She has BEEN/SEEN/TASTED/WRITTEN "authentic" Mexican food and "knows" it in depth, and through regional and familial diversity.

Sometimes the outsider gets to see more, because they are both interested and wanting to get "educated" on things that for many are mundane and common sensical.

So, yeah, this "güera´s" recipe book are absolutely the real thing.

Jul 02, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

I think regionality, as in all other countries and cuisines, is a factor when you are responding to the question, "What is authentic Mexican?"

There is no answer.

But the opposite, "What is NOT authentic?" might be easier to answer, if regionality is the context, as in,
-no yellow cheese
-no saucy carnitas
-no pinto beans
-no flour tortillas.

At the end of the day, however, who can be the judge of authenticity?

My sister received grant money to do a project with the "tortilleras" of Coapan, women who sell hand-made tortillas. The interviews and photo-documentaries slowly revealed some of the changes that have occurred just in the past 10 years (bags, plastic, metal stands, mixture, buses) that made some people say the work they did was not authentic. But ask them anytime, and they think it is damn authentic: they still get up at 5 to grind the corn, then still have to mix everything by hand, they still have to pack 100 pounds of tortillas and carry them around from house to house. So authenticity is, in fact, one of those things outsiders try to cling to. All cultures and cuisines are in constant movement and change.

We also have to consider the private/public divide. You can go to as many homes as you like and you'll find different recipes and methods, sometimes completely different foods from what you find in the restaurant. Is it not authentic? I think it is.

At the end of the day, food that tastes great is great regardless of its authenticity, and whoever claims to be an authenticity guru/police is a joke. Wouldn't that title be allowed to Mexicans? And wouldn't they also be mistaken when they spoke about other regions they didn't know?

So, don't worry about authentic. Particularly if you are not in the country of origin or in a part of that country exclusive for tourists.

P.S. Californian Mexican is perhaps the least authentic Mexican I've had in the States.

Wandering, I am

Jun 30, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

please, a definition of "authentic mexican"

We love to eat Taco Bell because it is so American. =)

I remember going to the States to visit the family and always saying I wanted Taco Bell. It wasn't until much later in my life that I came to realize that people thought that was Mexican... we just thought it was really yummy American food!

Jun 30, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

Fruit + Salt = ?

My mom always sprinkls a little bit of salt on her watermelon and I never really understood. But then again, I buy fruit cups from the street vendors, dosed with lime juice, salt, and chili. Mango, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple all taste f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c with a little bit of salt! =)

Jun 30, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

cookbooks: hidden gems?

I've made so many recipes from this book:
-- I love the Braised Pork Tenderloin with Star Anise, Sweet Soy, and Balsamic (page. 178), deep flavors, sweet, tangy, and just amazing.

--Vietnamese-Style Lemon Grass Chicken with Rice Vermicelli (page 169) this was a fun, and fairly easy meal that really packed a bunch of flavors.

-- the saté (pages 71-73), they were super fun, easy and i thought the proportions for the marinade were great.

-- all the sauces were superb.

Since I live in a small town in mexico, i don´t have access to a lot of the ingredients needed for asian cooking. However, I brought quite a few ingredients from the states. I only get cellophane noodles.. hehehe so i haven´t tried any other noodle recipe.

But having traveled throughout East Asia, I think this cookbook really delivers what it says it will. The recipes are well planned, easier (that the "traditional" way) and really great!

Good luck!!

Jun 30, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

Cool/delicious fruits from around the world?

I think most Americans that have visited do fall in love with Tunas, and I think it is the surprise factor, you know, looking at this green, almost spiny oval, and then voilà, this amazing green or red fruit inside. =)

Guanabana, is also pretty fun.
Dragon fruit, pitajaya.. it makes me smile when I walk by the marchantas in the market.
Nanches, they sell them of carretas in the street... never been a fan, per se, but it is good to see children eat them.

On nopales, since our marchanta brings them over every other day, I don´t think I wanna see nopales anywhere else.. hehehe!

But good luck with your cacti farm. Grow saguaros as well.. Or, de hecho, come down to Tehuacan, we have the largest endemic cacti biosphere in the world. =)

And we are the cradle of the corn! hehehe!

Jun 30, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

Cool/delicious fruits from around the world?

Yeah.. wierd, particularly because you simply do not expect it from what the fruit looks like.

Jun 29, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

Cool/delicious fruits from around the world?

-- Tunas, a fruit from the paddle cacti, are just beautiful things, with the texture of a kiwi, but with red flesh.

-- Chicozapotes, this amazingly black and tangy fruit that we use to make "petrol" hehehe.. which is pured chicozapote that is served cold, cold!

-- Mamey, which is a brown, heavy fruit with sweet flesh (and the insides of the giant seed can be used as mascara)

But by far the weirdest fruit I´ve had here is the "higo del desierto" a fruit that sprouts at the top of saguaro cacti. They look really disgusting.. but inside you find the sweetest treat: honey-like, molasses-colored, alegría tasting.

I also remember a fruit you had to suck on for hours and hours, releasing the gooey flesh, but i can´t remember the name.

And of course, I do love Durian. =)

Jun 29, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

A Cheeseburger By Any Other Name ...

I love matt´s. No dishes, great flavor, and no.. it is far better than a cheeseburger. I think they add a bit of bacon fat, right? After my friend and I boasted to our coworkers about eating a big fat juicy lucy, they informed us what it really meant. hehehe

Jun 27, 2007
mirilara in Features

Stewed Chicken Taco Recipe

Boil the chicken breats with some garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. You might want to add some herbs to your chosing.

Generally, Mexican cooks make chicken broth, and use the meat for the tacos.

And if you want the authentic feel, don't use sauced chicken. Just shred the meat, roll the rotillas and pan fry them. Cover them with cream, mexican fresh cheese and salsa (usually green).. yum!!!

Just had that for lunch today.

Jun 25, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

Making popcorn at home-preferred method?

We don't make stovetop popcorn any more but I used to love to make it.

Buy your kernels and put them in the freezer. If they are stale (you might notice a duller color) then sprinkle a couple of drops of water on them before freezing.

Get a nice pot and put 3 tablespoons of oil in.

Throw in 5 kernels and turn the heat high.

When the 5 kernels have popped (count them! that is the fun of it) throw in 1/2 cup of kernels, lower the temp to medium, and stay next to them, hearing them pop.

Shake the pot a couple of times during the process and when you think you might be close to finishing, turn the heat off and shake the pot a bit more.

Perfect each time.

Jun 25, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

Pollo & gallina?

In some Latin American countries the difference between pollo and gallina meat is much more marked, as is the case in Peru with aji de gallina and pollo chifa. Pollo meaning a younger, whiter meat, and gallina a yellower, fattier, and older meat.

But in Mexico gallina only means the live animal and pollo de dead one =) or cooked one.

Jun 24, 2007
mirilara in General Topics

Too many jalapenos

Grill them with red onions, then add a splash of vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme when they are done. You can put this on top of burgers, steak.

You can make chiles rellenos. I love the jalapeno variety, usually with tuna or you can insert a slice of manchego or some minced meat with onions and garlic. Put them in the oven or grill them slowly.

"Toreados," place them whole on a grill and roll them over until some of the skin gets dark. Eat them just like that next to whatever you are eating.

When you are making rice, place one or two whole chilis on top of the water and let it simmer with the rice. You'll love the soft chili, that adds just the right amount of spicyness to the rice.. Specially Mexican red rice.

Mexican eggs: chili, tomato, and onion... saute them with a bit of oil until the onion is transparent. Throw in the eggs, scramble. Serve with flour tortillas. Somehow, all the restaurants in this Mexican town, serve it with flour rather than corn.

You can also use them in southeast asian dips.

Jun 23, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

cookbooks: hidden gems?

One of my favorite books: "From Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes" might seems like one of those obvious books but it has turned to be amazing. I chose it over any of my other southeast asian cookbooks. Great easy and fast recipes that turn out fab every single time!!

Jun 23, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

Page format???

Same here BUT the page is not correctly dowloading for me! ick!

Jun 22, 2007
mirilara in Site Talk

Too much Eggplant!

Double baked eggplant: Cut in rounds, drizzle with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and a bit of parmesan cheese (the processed kind.. hehe). Bake them for 40 minutes. Take them out, let stand for about 5 min. drizzle again, and cook for 40 min. The double baking works wonders. I do these next to some red onions and peeled red peppers. I serve with a good steak and I have had people ask for seconds...of the veggies!! =)

The times vary according to your oven.

I also deep them. Cut them, dry them, cover them in panko or plain bread crumbs (if you don't have any) with a bit of paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper and deep fry! Yum!

Jun 22, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking

Canned chilpotle sauce ... what to do ?

Both of these might sound really tacky but i am a fan and I mean that whole-heartedly:

Mix with tuna and mayo and you have a cool filling for toasted crusty bread sandwich with chips!

If you have leftover sausages (heheh!!) you chop them up real thin and fry them with a lot of garlic and chipotle. Right after you take them off the stove squeeze a couple of limes on top. It is yummy!

I have made pasta with it, using some chorizo and basil. Make sure to have a very light salad to go with it!.

Oh.. and you could thin it with some water/chicken broth and make a sauce for a sunny-side up egg which is layered over a fried tortilla.

Let us know!

Jun 21, 2007
mirilara in Home Cooking