Have you maxed out on al pastor or carne asada tacos from your local taco truck? Then you need a trip through Boyle Heights to remind yourself just how diverse and versatile tacos can be. That is what I did last week, along with professor Sarah Portnoy’s USC Spanish class on Latino food in L.A. We visited three terrific spots: Mariscos Jalisco, Santa Rita Jalisco, and Guisados.
Last year’s Feria de los Moles (or Mole Fair) at L.A.’s Olvera Street drew 30,000 people — and with good reason. The annual event, now in its fifth year and happening Sunday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., celebrates this classic Mexican dish with food, music, dance, workshops, and even a friendly competition. Admission is free.
Olvera St.: Authentic Mexican enclave? Whitewashed tourist attraction? Olvera St. is not one or the other. It is both, and in that mix represents a fascinating model of what it means to be at the center of such a pluralistic, multi-cultural city as Los Angeles, in the exact spot where its history, present and future intersect…. [read this post in both English and Spanish]
Last week, we told you about 10 spots for terrific Mexican tamales in L.A., from King Taco to Rivera. What we didn’t say is that the tamale is so versatile that hundreds of varieties exist within Mexico alone, not counting nouveau creations with ingredients like foie gras and truffles. Turn the page for 10 other fascinating facts about tamales….
At L.A.’s Mexican restaurants, the classic combination plate — you know, the No. 5 or the “Macho Combo” or the “Pancho Villa Platter” that serves up a burrito, taco, tamale and chile relleno topped with yellow cheese along with refried beans, rice and flour tortillas — tends to be ridiculed in this epoch of obsession with “authentic” Mexican dishes. So we must choose. Sometimes the tamale plate wins out, especially for those of us who don’t have a Mexican grandmother at home turning out tamales from a family recipe perfected over generations. After all, Mexicans have been making tamales in the Americas since the pre-Columbian era. Perhaps your abuela even makes her own masa. Then there are the tamale fillings: maybe pork stewed in a red chile sauce, or a 100-ingredient mole.
Diana Kennedy, the Mexican cuisine authority and cookbook author, doesn’t often travel outside of Mexico, where she lives in rural Michoacán a few hours from Mexico City. For the past 65 years, Mexico has been her home, and a laboratory for her studies and writings about Mexico’s regional cuisines. So her appearance last Sunday at the L.A. County Museum of Art for a brief talk and book signing presented a rare opportunity for Angelenos to meet the woman who’s often called “the Julia Child of Mexican food.” Like Child, Kennedy has shared her vast knowledge on a topic that had previously been both exotic and esoteric in the United States. Her latest book, Oaxaca al Gusto from 2010, ismuch more than a cookbook. The 450-page tome presents a study of Oaxacan cultural history illuminated by glorious photographs, many taken by Kennedy herself…. [keep reading]
Most diners at Bäco Mercat have probably tried to guess chef Josef Centeno’s upbringing from what they see on their plates. Jonathan Gold has observed that the menu mixes “flavors from Italy, France and Western China, Georgia (U.S.) and Georgia (eastern Europe), Tuscany and Peru.” In fact, the chef comes from San Antonio, Texas. Hence, the new restaurant he plans to open next fall: Bar Amá. The menu? Tex-Mex, the food Centeno grew up with…