Mexicali Rose

Hands up if you wouldn’t care if you never ate Mexican food again.

It seems many Australians are distinctly underwhelmed by this cuisine. Some of the problem is to do with the fact that many of us have never been to Mexico. It is not on our border. We have not had exposure to it. Our ‘Mexico’ – our exotic, spicy, colourful near-neighbours –are, after all, Vietnam and Thailand, and we are joyously familiar with these foods.

Problem #2 is that the ‘Mexican’ food we find in many fast food establishments is not really authentic.

We know this for a fact because another group of people who do not eat Mexican food in Australia are those that have been to Mexico. They know that the fiery, over-chillied, salty, greasy food which passes for ‘mexican’ (small-m Mexican if you like) is not at all mainstream in Mexico.

Due to harsh reality, much real Mexican food has a default setting of ‘budget’.  In many recipes, rice, corn and beans plump out modest amounts of meat to deliver substantial meals to large families. A discreet sprinkle of chilli and spices – a little cheese – adds flavour. Herbs, tomatoes and vegetables give colour and texture.

Lori Horton, the author of Mexicali Rose, grew up in Australia but in a Mexican atmosphere.  Here family owned a string of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne, and it was there she learned the tricks and recipes she now shares in this book, named for their restaurant. It’s rich menu, vibrant with full-page pictures, tips and extra notes.

Now it is possible to find out how to make everything from frozen margaritas to Mexican meatballs, chocolate-rich chicken mole (pronounced moh-lay) to crumbed cheese jalapeno balls for your next party. And so much more.

There’s even the recipe for a Christmas drink – a sort of south-of-the-border rum-enhanced eggnog, called rompope. Who cares how that is pronounced!

by Lori Horton, published by New Holland Publishers, 2009, www.newholland.com.au, hardcover, rrp A$29.95.

 

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