My relationship with flan got off to a rocky start mainly due to my high school Spanish teacher’s extreme disgust for the custard dessert. You see, I grew up in a non-Spanish-speaking community and when I was in high school, I had never even heard of flan, let alone tasted it. My Spanish teacher had studied in Spain, and she despised the dessert. She called it phlegm rather than flan. Her negative bias rubbed off on me and when I traveled to Spain as a 16-year-old, I mistakenly turned up my nose at beautiful piece of flan that my host family served me. I still ate it, but let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite. It was kind of eggy, and I wasn’t crazy about the texture. Continue reading
So here’s the deal…it’s the 3rd Annual #PaletaWeek over at Lola’s Cocina, and I had all intentions of making green, white, and red paletas to cheer on Mexico in tomorrow’s World Cup game against South Korea, but as I started to make them, I saw a bag of roasted cacao nibs from Oaxaca sitting on my countertop, and I thought, “Hmmm…I bet those would be pretty tasty in vanilla-laced almond milk.” So I stuck some on a spoon with a little milk, and wow! Yes! This is something that had to be shared.
But, I guess the more important question here is, how does one randomly have a bag of cacao nibs sitting on the countertop, and what are cacao nibs anyway?
Well, this spring Roberto and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to partake in the D. C. Chocolate Festival. It was quite amazing, and besides being able to try single origin bars from dozens of chocolate makers, we got to learn about single origin cane sugar with William Marx of WM Chocolate and about growing cacao in an agroforestry system like Agrofloresta in southern Mexico.
More importantly though, all of this chocolately goodness got me to thinking about making my own chocolate from bean to bar. I mean, why not? I had a bag of cacao beans sitting in my basement that I had brought back from my trip to Oaxaca last summer.
With each passing year, I anxiously await the arrival of spring more and more. I look for signs at every turn–from the appearance of the first robins to the green daffodil stems that pop through the snow to the blooming of the yellow forsythia.
I know that around Tax Day (April 15th) the grass starts to turn a rich green and the flowering trees begin to bloom, and by the time Cinco de Mayo is here the trees are lush with their emerald-hued leaves and the scent of lilacs floats on the soft breeze.
My heart always flutters a bit when I see the Manila/Champagne mangoes arrive at the grocery stores during this time, too. The sight and smell of them provokes a wave of emotion and memories. They remind me of my first trip to Mexico, and how I would eat them as an after dinner dessert, my hands sticky from their sweet juices. And, they remind me of my Mom, who became a true mango aficionado much later in life and would buy them buy the box-full when they would come in season.
If you’ve ever tried the slow-roasted citrusy pork dish, cochinita pibil, from the Yucatán peninsula, then you’ve certainly experienced the flavor or achiote or annatto seeds.
The achiote tree or bush is native to the tropical regions of the Americas. The fruit of the plant is very peculiar looking. The orange-red seeds grow inside hairy brown pods and have been used to color everything from lipstick to cheeses.
Although we were only in Puebla for a few short days, the food has been some of the most memorable we have eaten on the whole trip. My wonderful travel companion, Daniela of The Spiced Kitchen, always asks, “Do you think this meal was life-changing?,” and I honestly have to say that some of the foods we tried in Puebla were a big YES! to that question.
It has been a while since I have done an update. I apologize. The internet has been very spotty at some of our hotels, and it makes writing a blog post ten times harder.