Monday, September 14, 2015

Mon 14 Sept - 13 types of chilli into one cooking class in Oaxaca

We have a big day planned with a 5+ hour cooking class starting at 11am so we had a small breakfast (we were warned...). 

Before we start...Some Mexican population facts for the day. 

Everyone we meet describes Mexico as a country of young people and it looks that way on the streets too. Lots of young people and families. So Di checked out some population stats of the 120 million people who live here.  It's true.  Compared to Australia the birth rate in Mexico is higher and the median age of the population is just 27 years old.  There is only 6.6% of the population 65. 

Compare this to Australia where the median age is 38 and the birth rate is 12 per 1000 p.a.  Australia has lots of baby boomers with over 34% of people over age 65.  So more grey hair in Australia.

But in saying all that our cooking class leader Agustin was a man who seemed to be in his 50's with some grey hair.  What a character. He's lived in San Francisco, Amsterdam, London and Berlin and had a great sense of humour.

He arrived before 11am and was limping badly due to a nasty fall earlier this week. Still he limped with us around the markets and got us to taste different things and he bought some ingredients too. Very interesting and fun. When we rushed ahead he would say "hold your horses mate" - he says Australians are his most common, and favourite clients,  More laid back.  We're cheap but fun. 

Some photos of our first houri in the markets. 
Agustin in the yellow and blue t-shirt. 

Our theme for the day fact 13 different types will be used.
Lots...dried and fresh. 

And salt made with fried crushed worms, Sal de Gusanto, which we tasted with Mezcal. 

Yummy Mezcal. 

Tomatoes and herbs here look and taste soo much better.

"Dick" chillies in the basket on the bottom right. They grow upwards. 

We also tried Mayrdomo chocolate and a nice pastry like a cannoli.  

Then into a taxi to the home of Agustin and Esperanza, which is above a restaurant he setup. Just the 2 of us in their kitchen. Esperanza was our Master Chef who patiently showed us how to make guacamole, 2 types of salsa, melitas tortilla, quesadillas, mole negro, and 2 types of stuffed chillies known as Rellenos.  Wow, and we cooked it all, just Lisa and Di with some help. 

Yep today we used 13 types of chillies all shown here. 

We started with guacamole and salsas. So much better freshly made and authentic. Esperanza in the background was great - very patient. 

Then onto quesadilla recipe.  Ingredients shown below include Epazote which we don't have.  It has a strong fragrance and flavour and has been compared to taste of citrus or mint. Hard to describe. 

Lisa makes the perfect quesadilla...

The finished product (appetisers only...more to come).

 We took a break and ate and drank outside. Cheers!

Back to work, mostly for Lisa. Di was suffering with a tummy bug from yesterday (we suspect unclean hands touched the grapefruit).  Agustin brewed a magic herbal local plant called Poleo and ensured that nearly a litre went down Di's throat.  Amazingly an hour later Di was back into the cooking. Great stuff. 

Back to Mole... Di watched Lisa prepare 25 ingredients for Mole Negro. Here's the list of ingredients but technique is also important. 

Lisa made a champion mole without any help from Di who watched and slurped the Poleo drink. 
Some photos of the steps along the away. Ingredients, first a nutty ground paste with lot of herbs and spices and plantain and bread, then in goes blended chilies. Finish with chocolate, salt and sugar to taste.  There are more ingredients than shown below...lots...

The nutty mixture is in the large pot and blended chillies in the blue pot. 

The result, a fantastic and amazing depth of flavour.

Di was feeling better in time for Chile Rellenos. Fantastic recipes for 2 different types of stuffed chillies. 

The finished products.

With Chicken Mole this was our final main meal (around 5pm). Yes, 2 plates each was definitely dinner.

Esperanza was brilliant so Agustin got to do the washing up with a smile on his face. The poor guy was limping so badly and is also drinking brewed Poleo. 

What can we say? Best class ever. All was delicious, especially the mole sauce (thanks Lisa, and yes Hans I have the recipe). 

The stomach bug had made Di quite weary, added to 4-5 hours in the kitchen, so we took a taxi back to our hotel around 6pm. An early night for Di. 

Lisa headed out for coffee and catch up on communications but by 8pm we were both exhausted and lying down. When you think cooks in Mexico make US$15 for a 10 hour day you can understand why it's something for young people. 

Buenas Noches. 

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