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While I’m neither of Hispanic or Mexican decent, I’ve had a near lifelong passion for the culture and cuisine of our Southern neighbors.
Besides my early love for the Americanized versions of Mexican cuisine, my real passion for the authentic foods of Mexico began when my eldest sister moved away from the comforts of our suburban homestead in Michigan to the bustling metropolis of Mexico City–all on a complete whim.
Although my visits to Mexico City weren’t nearly as often as I would have liked, I had the opportunity to not only dine in some of the city’s BEST restaurants, but also to enjoy the native cuisine my sister discovered from friends, her new relatives, and even more importantly, her housekeepers, who also cooked many family meals.
As you might imagine, corn (maize), peppers (chilies), tomatoes, chicken and less-expensive cuts of beef and pork were staples that often found their way into the dishes my sister learned to prepare and shared with me over the years.
The big take away from those visits, and perhaps the dishes I’ve enjoyed ever since, are the native “peasant-style” ones that include fried corn tortillas; roasted chilies; and traditional herbs and spices like cilantro, garlic cumin, and chipotle. I remember them so vividly.
Those early memories inspired me to embark on my own Mexican sojourn. For a brief time, I worked in Cancun at the Camino Real Hotel, part of the Westin Hotel Chain.
The new island’s development was in its infancy back then. The “food chains” and “spring breakers” hadn’t arrived, and you could actually believe you were in Mexico.
I learned a dish or two there as well, some from the Mayans whose ancestral home is the Yucatan Peninsula where Cancun is located.
What I learned the most in all of those experiences is what I’ll share with you: Like ALL cuisines, the best dishes are often super fresh and simple. It’s why they last for centuries. It’s what makes them become part of the culture, part of the fabric of their heritage.
Look for ingredients and components made by natives (like Nino’s Corn Tortilla Chips), which we fry from tortillas made right in our Mexican Village. Always use the freshest produce, herbs, meats and dairy products. And keep it simple, rough chopped and “under-processed.” It’s not complicated. In fact, it’s everything but (which sometimes makes it complicated because WE tend get in the way of that on occasion).
Among my most favorite dishes is Chilaquiles, which is a peasant-style casserole dish using corn tortilla chips; pulled, cooked chicken; cheese; chilies; and cream. It goes well with black beans braised in a chicken broth and seasoned with cumin and chilies, and it’s very simple to make.
And speaking of our GREAT corn tortilla chips, I have a few more great recipes that use our tortilla chips RIGHT HERE.
If you aren’t in the mood to cook but would still like to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or just enjoy the flavors of Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine, we have a number of other delicious dishes and products in Nino’s Gourmet to Go Department, including:
● Chicken Enchilada Casserole
● Chicken Quesadillas
● Beef & Chicken Fajitas
● Homemade Spanish Rice
● Nino’s Mexican-Style Salsas
● Nino’s Homemade Guacamole
● Nino’s Corn Tortilla Chips
● Mesquite Chicken Roll-Ups
● Mexicali Dip
Disfrutar de su Cocina. Buen Apetito!