Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cooking for Thanksgiving: multicultural flavor

There are a few countries in the world where on one day the entire population gathers for dinner to enjoy a feast that is essentially uniform throughout. In the United States, this curious event has been happening for four centuries, and without doubt Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to enjoy delicious food and huge servings without feeling guilty.

Reinventing the taste
Emmanuel Montes, originally from Tamaulipas, Mexico, has been constantly reinventing his family´s Thanksgiving dinner, building it around tamales, whether they are cooked in banana leaves or cornhusks. "The tamale is the main attraction on the plate; no doubt it is what represents us," says the Chef, who prepared a sampling of his cuisine in his restaurant Casa Frida, in Tulsa, OK.
 "The custom is that it be a pork-filled tamale, whose flavor is heightened because of the banana leaf," says Montes. "It can be served with a green sauce. The color comes from the poblano chili, which provides just the taste, but not spiciness; the consistency is achieved with white fresco cheese and sour cream."

Those who prefer the chicken tamale can eat it with Montes´secret ingredient: pipi├ín sauce, a tasty blend of pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds and peanuts. His version is not the traditional red or green sauce, but a blend of both, between spicy and sweet. 
"It is not conventional; it is a blend of flavor and regions. It has something from Veracruz (Mexico)," said Montes, while he suggested dipping a bit of turkey in that sauce. "That way we go from predictable turkey to a very authentic one, on that is very us."

And of course, there is no dinner without dessert, which is why Montes presented one of his specialties: chocoflan, a spongy dark chocolate cake with a thick covering of caramelized flan or custard. "Preparing this dessert is like doing magic," he said. "The mix of ingredients are so different that many people do not expect that the result will be something that you just can´t stop eating."

Photos by Juan Miret

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