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Author Topic: Food! Food! Food! The Good, Bad, Ugly, and Tasty steampunk treats and drinks  (Read 76911 times)
Hurricane Annie
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New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #550 on: December 09, 2017, 10:11:13 am »

I've recently moved to a new town, and there are no authentic taco places here. A forty minute drive takes me to a Mexican American district and a place called Los Arcos Market that has fantastic tacos, but it isn't a trip that I can make regularly. I might have to make due with those crunchy Old El Paso taco shells.

Sacrilege! Blasphemy! May your Lay tongue turn into Frito!

Seriously, you're much better off making them yourself. It's very easy. Buy or even mail order some Nixtamalized corn "Masa Harina" (Masa flour)  All you need is water, a flat surface and a heavy pan plus some wax paper or a ziploc bag to flatten masa balls. Deep fry if you want to with one of those cheap fryers. But in Central Mexico you don't eat them crispy anyway. Just cook them for 1-2 minutes on a hot flat griddle and roll yourself some soft tacos.

more blasphemy to make your  hair stand on end ...when I was 7 yr  and in standard 1  at school, our class studied Mexico, the teacher made tortilla in class.  She was a very uptight middle aged English woman.  They were  made  from plain flour and water , and cooked in an electric frying pan . In the moment they were quite delicious .  Not so sure I would be so keen on them now.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #551 on: December 09, 2017, 04:10:14 pm »

I've recently moved to a new town, and there are no authentic taco places here. A forty minute drive takes me to a Mexican American district and a place called Los Arcos Market that has fantastic tacos, but it isn't a trip that I can make regularly. I might have to make due with those crunchy Old El Paso taco shells.

Sacrilege! Blasphemy! May your Lay tongue turn into Frito!

Seriously, you're much better off making them yourself. It's very easy. Buy or even mail order some Nixtamalized corn "Masa Harina" (Masa flour)  All you need is water, a flat surface and a heavy pan plus some wax paper or a ziploc bag to flatten masa balls. Deep fry if you want to with one of those cheap fryers. But in Central Mexico you don't eat them crispy anyway. Just cook them for 1-2 minutes on a hot flat griddle and roll yourself some soft tacos.

more blasphemy to make your  hair stand on end ...when I was 7 yr  and in standard 1  at school, our class studied Mexico, the teacher made tortilla in class.  She was a very uptight middle aged English woman.  They were  made  from plain flour and water , and cooked in an electric frying pan . In the moment they were quite delicious .  Not so sure I would be so keen on them now.

Well there's nothing wrong with using an electric frying pan. It's not like people still kneel on the floor tending the fire under a table made from stone slabs (Comal) . Modern life requires modern implements. The normal way is a thin metal plate (steel Comal) or griddle over a gas or electric burner... I normally use a frying pan.

Flour is not wrong either. It's all about the proper context. The right stuff in the right tortilla. The Spanish brought wheat flour, and the wheat flour tortilla became a staple in Northern Mexico. Americans latched on to that and that is the ancestor of the American "Burrito" which basically is an oversize soft taco with flour tortilla. To-date both types of tortilla are available even in Central and Southern Mexico, with the flour tortilla being used mostly for breakfast, that is, serving the warm flour tortillas along with scrambled eggs mixed with shredded dry beef (machaca) or crumbled fried chorizo. Missing perhaps a bit of grease for the tortilla.

When making flour tortillas you'll need some lard or vegetable shortening for the dough, and oil for the pan; unlike maize Masa which needs no oil at all and no shortening of any kind. UNLESS, OF COURSE, the use oil is by design to make the thick tortilla-like Sopes or crispy tortillas as an appetizer. .
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 05:18:10 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #552 on: December 09, 2017, 05:34:43 pm »

And regarding those mixed wheat flour and maize tortilla monsters, the first time I heard from them was a couple of years ago. When I tasted one it carried a bit of the hominy maize flavour, but was moist like a flour tortilla. Didn't hate it but you understand that's definitely not an original.

The reason I think the Americans did that it's because it's nigh impossible to find less than a day-old tortillas in the US. Maize (Masa /hominy) tortillas are meant to be made the same day before the meal, and kept warm an moist inside a container of some sort or in a wrap of cloth. Hominy paste is extremely prone to drying very fast, and there's nothing worse than chewing on a rubbery and hard piece of tortilla.

The problem is that modern supermarkets want to store bread for several days, and that simply doesn't work with maize tortillas. The Americans ended up adding guar gum to make them pliable after the first day, but in return the tortillas are crumbly and gummy throughout their entire shelf life. I challenge you to roll a taco with a cold American tortilla. It's impossible,as it will break and crumble in your hand.

So Americans know and understand the flour tortilla, but SUCK at making and selling maize tortillas. The latest attempt is to genetically merge both...

It's partly because of modern life, but partly because of culture values. Some older Americans may still remember that milk was delivered to the house by the milk man. Well, it's kind of the same mentality with Mexican bread. Someone would go to the "Tortilleria" and pick a freshly made wax paper wrap with 20, 30, 50, or however many tortillas you needed that day. It was a daily exercise.

Same with the 19th C French-Mex bread, the Mexicans have mini Baguette rolls called "Bolillos" (pronounce the "ll" as a "y"). This is a daily staple in Central Mexico. All restaurants and eateries offer them as appetizers, and it's the daily bread of the poor. An alternative is a flat Ciabatta shaped roll made also like a baguette, that is called "Telera" the preferred bread for making "Tortas", the Mexican version of sandwiches. We owe that to the French. Since the 19th century, and throughout the 20th C you'd see men and women carrying baskets full of bread from house to house selling individual units. Or again someone would pass by the baker every day before the meal. It had to be done this way. Anyone who knows French Baguette bread know how hard the crust will get in one day. The shelf life of classical French Baguette bread is one day. No more. Same with tortillas-that's meant to be "daily bread"
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 06:01:53 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged
Hurricane Annie
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New Zealand New Zealand



« Reply #553 on: December 10, 2017, 09:05:55 am »



 In New Zealand, a small island nation in the lower South Pacific, Mexican food is relatively recent  arrival.    They are manufactured  here in bakeries, for the most part run by owners and staff from the Indian subcontinent.  Tortilla, taco, burrito  and similar wraps come in plastic  bags with an extended use by date  of a few months.  They come in different flavours. 

 The best  ones I ever had were  put together  by an older fireman friend down the station.  He added potatoes.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #554 on: December 11, 2017, 10:00:07 am »



 In New Zealand, a small island nation in the lower South Pacific, Mexican food is relatively recent  arrival.    They are manufactured  here in bakeries, for the most part run by owners and staff from the Indian subcontinent.  Tortilla, taco, burrito  and similar wraps come in plastic  bags with an extended use by date  of a few months.  They come in different flavours.  

 The best  ones I ever had were  put together  by an older fireman friend down the station.  He added potatoes.

It will take some time, I'm sure, but I've heard of expatriates going as far as Sweden to establish their downtown-style diners and eateries. The trick is that even expatriates won't know the whole repertoire - for that you need a real foodie, and even then, you have to make sure the business is viable. Mexico is a big country. You can't offer all the regional dishes and expect to turn a profit in a new market.

I consider that Asians in general will be able to put together Mexican food rather easily. Many foods were shared during the age of Spanish and Portuguese discovery. For sure Mangoes and Cinnamon came from Asia, Bananas from Africa as well as Tamarind which then moved to India.

All Chile peppers, Maize and Avocadoes come from Mexico, as well as Tomatoes (that's fight talk to Italians, but undeniable history). Potatoes (Sorry Irish and Germans) they come from South America by way of Mexico. Peanuts? From South America, also by way of Mexico - this should start a shouting match in a Thai restaurant, and possibly forced eviction from the premises - let alone Cocoa as well from Central America.  I'm not sure how aware people in Asia are about the true origin of many of their foods. Bottom line is that all the traditional Mexican ingredients in any dish are available in copious amounts in Asia, and by consequence Australasia. You just need to get used to making maize hominy and turn it into a thick paste - because you are going be using an awful lot of it - unless you find a reliable importer of dried masa (flour).

The trick is understanding the cooking tradition in Mexican food. The food is like their people, an amalgam of native and European roots. The Mexicans are no longer conquered Aztec, but the children of Aztec and Spanish, hence their food culture looks unabashedly Western. But I fear the execution would involve a learning curve for those people you mention, in part because the methods of preparation and presentation of Asian foods differ significantly from Western foods.

The three main components of Mexican Cuisine are: 1) native foods and methods (maize/ primitive flat bread and steamed cakes from Nixtamalised maize a/k/a hominy, plus sauces made from, chile peppers, avocado, tomato, and cocoa. 2) Renaissance Era European and Mediterranean foods and preservation methods (eg pork, sausage, chicken, pasta). 3) Modern Era (19th. C) Continental European (e.g. Austrian/French/Italian bread, pastries, desserts, cream-based sauces).

The first two components comprise 85-90% of the food that people around the world know about Mexico, in part because Mexican food is defined (and artificially confined) as fast food outside of Mexico. The remainder 15% is basically unknown outside of Mexico, even in the "best" Mexican restaurants in the United States and around the world.

If you have an understanding of the latter 2 roots in the cuisine (Renaissance and 19th C Western cuisine), it should be easy for anyone in Australasia to learn about the former root (Native) side from cook books, history books, etc, and then reproduce Mexican food. The only thing missing is information, really. I would assume it's much harder to cook Mexican food in the UK than it is in Australia, just based on the availability of ingredients. I'm assuming New Zealand should also have the same types of foods found in Australia.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2017, 10:21:26 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged
yereverluvinunclebert
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« Reply #555 on: January 10, 2018, 10:27:09 am »

Tortillas, tacos, burritos - all very nice - we need a steampunk slant for it to stay here (or a new thread for the general food chat) but regardless it will need a steampunk slant. Burritos with chicken and clock parts. Rubber Tacos cooked using  steam. Tortillas manufactured by big brass machines. Those are ideas not recommendations.
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